Does your website take forever to load? When you only have a few seconds to grab a client or customer’s attention, then this can a problem. While there are numerous causes for a slow WordPress website, I am going to cover a few easy ways you can speed up your website today.
The Quick and Easy Ways to Increase Your WordPress Site Speed
1. Use JPGs Not PNGs
While it’s true that graphics often look better as PNGs, they can seriously slow down your website since they are bigger files. In general, the only PNGs on your site should be the graphics that require a transparent background like your logo and a few icons. They should always be sized appropriately to cut down on space too. In all other cases, it is best to upload JPGs to keep your site running efficiently. Just be sure to upload a JPG with decent resolution, as you don’t want to appear unprofessional with grainy photos on your website.
2. Compress Your Images
It’s generally a good idea to compress your images (JPGs and the PNGs you must use) prior to uploading them to your site. This is especially true if you are using a high-quality JPG, say from a stock photo site, that is rather large. You can do this quickly and for free on compressor.io.
Alternatively, if you have an independently hosted WordPress website you can install a plug-in that will automatically compress images (and even resize) upon upload. This can help increase your site speed by ensuring you do not have giant images and graphics bogging down your site. I personally like the Smush plug-in and have paid for the pro version on my personal sites.
(As a designer, I have a large amount of images on my site, but you may not need the pro version).
3. Delete Old Unused Images and Graphics
Your media folder on your website should not act as your photo storage. Its purpose is strictly to house graphics, images, audio, etc that is in use on your site. If you uploaded graphics and images that are no longer in use, delete them. Freeing up space on your site like this can increase your overall site speed.
Images are the first three for a reason- get those worked out first.
4. Delete Any Themes Not In Use
On your WordPress dashboard scroll down to Appearance > Themes and take a glance at what you have loaded on your website. If you have unused themes, you’ll want to remove those. I have an exception and I always keep the latest WordPress default theme, my parent theme, and my child theme. I keep the default theme in case I need to manually update my current parent theme and thus need one to temporarily activate. However, this is only my personal preference.
Not only do unused themes slow your site, but they can also be a security risk if you do not keep them all updated. Yikes! So it is better just to remove them and hopefully increase your site speed.
5. Use a Cache Plug In That Works Best For Your Site
A cache is a reserved storage location for data. Essentially, your cache holds your website information so it loads even faster for those visiting the site.
The first thing to note is that you should only be running one cache plug-in at a time on your WordPress website. There are many caching plug-ins and the right one for your site depends on your host. For example, Cloudways hosting recommends their Breeze cache plug-in and Siteground hosting recommends SG Optimize. While you could opt to use a different cache plug-in besides the hosts, it might not be as efficient in increasing your site speed. In this case you should do your research before you switch.
6. Keep Your Site Updated
I’ve said this before, but your website is like a plant, it will need some care even after the designer hands it back to you. Just like watering a plant, one of those essential tasks is updating your website. You will want to keep the PHP, WordPress Core, plug-ins, and theme updated. Often this is simple for the WordPress, Plug-ins, and themes- only requiring the click of a button. Updating the PHP can be a bit more complicated and you may want to seek technical assistance from your host.
Don’t forget to keep a backup of your site prior to pressing update. This way if something goes wrong you can always revert the site back to its original state. I like using the Updraft Plug-In to make sure I always have a backup.
If updating your site sounds like a chore you do not want to deal with, then consider hiring a website maintenance service. Monthly fees are typically about $50 and they care for your site and the needed updates.
I always refer my clients to a few website maintenance services after I have built their site to ensure it continues to work for them into the future.
Bonus Way to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
(A Little Harder, But Totally Worth It!)
While the following two suggestions for increasing your site speed are a bit harder, they can be totally worth it.
7. Change Themes
Changing themes typically leads to a total site redesign, but it can speed up your website if you have a heavy theme. If your theme is no longer able to be updated, then you will definitely want to change themes, preferably to one that has support, is light, and easy to update.
The Number One Way to Increase Your Site Speed: Get Quality Hosting
The expression you get what you pay for is very true when it comes to hosting. Hosts that offer shared hosting (like BlueHost) tend to be much cheaper, but you will pay for it in site speed. Instead, you can independently host or choose a hosting service like Cloudways where you can have your own servers. This process can be a bit complicated, but worth it. If it sounds like too much, then I have also found that Siteground is a decent shared hosting option that is very user-friendly.
Please note these are only my personal choices, and you if you choose to work on your own without a designer you will want to do your own research choosing hosts and ensuring your site will run efficiently.