5 Quick Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

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No one likes waiting around for a site to load, so much so that 40 per cent of people abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load.

Slow page load speeds are especially crippling for eCommerce sites. Almost 80 per cent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with a site’s performance are less likely to buy from the same site again, while a one second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16 per cent.

Even Google factors site speed into their algorithm when ranking websites. So if your site loads too slowly you can expect your Google rankings to fall, and in turn attract less traffic to your site.

So what can you do to make your site faster? Here are a few simple ways to keep your page load times low and your visitors happy.

P.S. I’ll be exploring site speed in more depth in a couple of weeks so watch this space.

Use a Great Caching Plugin

If you’ve got static images, CSS and Javascript on your website that rarely change, browser side caching can help make your site snappier.

Caching involves storing parts of your site so they only need to be loaded once instead of every time a user visits your site. Caching is especially helpful for your return visitors, as well as others who visit several pages of your site.

W3 Total Cache is a popular caching plugin for WordPress used by sites like Mashable (their CTO created W3TC), Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot and WPBeginner. The plugin promises a 10 times improvement in overall site performance when fully (and properly) configured.

WP Super Cache is a more user-friendly alternative and you don’t need to be a server expert to set it up.

Compress Images

Images are usually the largest files on a site so if they aren’t compressed they can take ages to load.

Luckily there are some great tools out there to help you compress your files.

WP Smush.it, now managed and supported by WPMU DEV, automatically strips meta data from JPEGs and removes unused colors from indexed images.

Tiny PNG is another great tool, which allows also strips un-used colors for lossy compressions.

If you use a lot of images on your site, you might want to implement lazy loading. The Lazy Load plugin allows you to only load images above the fold when a new visitor arrives at your site. Images load once a user starts scrolling down the page. This technique not only speeds up page load times, but also saves bandwidth for users who don’t scroll all the way to the bottom of your pages.

Minify HTML, CSS and Javascript

In other words, remove all white space from code where possible.

While spaces and tabs make code more readable for humans, servers and browsers couldn’t care less as long as it’s valid and executes without error.

Rather than manually sift through your code with a fine tooth comb, plugin’s like WP Minify and W3 Total Cache can handle this at runtime.

Cut Down on HTTP Requests

Every time someone visits a page on your site, the corresponding files must be sent to that person’s browser, including images, CSS files andJavascript library references. So if you have a HTML file, two CSS files, five Javascript files and eight images, that’s a total of 16 files that need to be loaded.

By reducing the number of objects in your site’s pages, you can minimize the number of HTTP requests that are required to render a page, speeding up load times.

One way to do this is by simplifying the design of your site, and combining files such as scripts and CSS. The minify section in W3 Total Cache allows you to add your CSS and Javascript files so you can easily combine them into one file.

Optimize Database Tables

Optimizing your database tables is like defragging your computer or changing the oil in your car – it will help free up space and keep your database running smoothly.

You can optimize your database tables manually using phpMyAdmin or with a plugin.

WP-DBManager allows you to optimize, repair, backup and restore your database.

There’s also WP-Optimize, another database cleanup and optimization tool. This plugin also lets you remove post revisions, comments in the spam queue, un-approved comments and items in trash.

Conclusion

This is a quick round-up of simple measures you can put in place to speed up your pages.

Optimizing your site can make a big difference in site speed, encouraging them to stick around and engage with your content.

These tips shouldn’t take very long to put in place and for the effort you put in you’ll get a speedier site and happier visitors.

How do you speed up your site? Tell us in the comments below.

Image credit: Picjumbo.

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