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How to Speed up Your WordPress Website [5-step Technical Guide]

How to Speed up You WordPress Website A 5-steps Technical Guide-howtohosting-guide article image

Speeding up a WordPress site or blog may be easy or difficult, depending on the site’s complexity. However, there are some easy-to-use technical steps administrators can take to improve the back-end engine’s performance and boost the loading speed of the visitors. They are regarded as technical because they rely on core modifications to the installation itself.

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website – Video Guide

What Affects The Speed of Your WordPress Site?

The speed of a WordPress site may mean different measurements. What is usually referred to as “WordPress speed” is the loading speed the visitors perceive. It is not a single factor that is determined by a single operation or value.

From a visitor’s standpoint, the request they make to the WordPress site involves typing the address (the URL) in a browser’s address bar and hit the “Enter” key, seconds later the page should load. However, behind this, there are several important factors that every computer user should know.

There are the so-called “user conditions” that affect the loading speed of a given site and generally, the website administrators cannot influence them. Such factors are the following:

  • Internet Speed – To a large extent, the most limiting factor is the line connection that is given to the users by their Internet Service provider (ISP). This includes both the stability and access speed to the given site.
  • Hardware – Slower computers or devices may not render the site fast enough; this is dependent entirely on their hardware.
  • Web Browser Conditions – Some web browser settings, particularly those that cover proxy servers and advertising blocking, may inhibit the loading of certain elements. This can cause considerable slow-down in the loading of WordPress blogs.
  • Security Programs – Some security-related programs may severely disrupt the normal functioning of web browsers and the loading of Internet sites. The likely culprit is an aggressive firewall configuration that may block certain domain names associated with content-delivery networks, which are often used by Internet sites for speed optimizations.

When discussing WordPress speed enhancement, administrators typically differentiate between core WordPress engine and third-party additions optimizations.

The first part designates common tips that can be implemented in just about every site powered by the blog engine technology, while the second indicates actions that the administrators can take for any third-party installed extras: plugins, themes, etc.

Step 1. Remove Unused and Non-Optimized WordPress Plugins

Remove unused plugins from the WordPress blog installation. This is because they take of the delegated files space given by the hosting provider. While most hosting providers give a substantial portion of it, this may be an issue with smaller packages.

Also, to be listed and loaded by the WordPress blog engine, they also need to be registered in the database and linked to the main core. This creates excessive database requests, which may slow down the loading speed even in the front-end.

On the other hand badly-optimized plugins should also be removed (or replaced). They are regarded as low-quality versions, that despite the addition of new functionality, really have a detrimental effect on the overall site’s performance. There are several signs that reveal if a plugin behaves in this way.

The most common one if a site or portion of the site slows down immediately after this plugin is configured and activated. The other is when the users attempt to use its functions and notice any issues when interacting with the site. If they are acquired from the main WordPress plugins repository, the website owners can check existing reviews and the rating bestowed by other users.

This may serve as an indicator of the perceived quality of an extension. We recommend that thorough research is done before installing plugins, especially on production machines. Ideally, a test should be done on a testing machine, and the performance and operation of the site should be carefully reviewed before it is installed on the production server.

Step 2: Prioritize Google Fonts Usage

a tip about loading fonts

The use of fonts, loaded from the Google Fonts repository, is a practice that is used in many WordPress themes. Usually, the theme developers choose several families of fonts to suit the graphics and blog type.

A tip that is generally ignored, but is very important,is to prioritize loading the fonts before other content. This involves editing the main variables that are part of the current theme, to load the Google Repository and the desired fonts.

These lines of code should be placed at the beginning of the relevant configuration files to ensure that they are loaded before other important elements.

Our analysis of many sites found out that this is not done in many large sites, which is perceived to be a serious issue. Several scenarios can arise from improper use of Google Fonts loading.

An example issue is when a wrong page is opened in a web browser. During its loading in the web browser window, the content will be displayed using the default system font and not the Google Font associated with its developers.

While the page is loaded, the users may not perceive the site as to the quality and may stop the site and point themselves to another option. This will affect the bounce rate and subsequently lead to a possibly substantial SEO ranking drop.

There are several reasons why one should use Google Fonts instead of the standard ones provided by the core WordPress engine. The most crucial distinction about them is that they are practically a library of licensed fonts that can be used by site developers for free.

This collection includes many optimized font families that are specifically used for web display, and as such preferable for WordPress integration.

They can be easily loaded by calling the specified Google Fonts API and directing it to the chosen fonts family. There are also two ways of adding them, which can also affect the loading speed.

The first technique relies on the direct loading of the Fonts through the online catalog. Google provides a convenient code block that should be inserted in the wp_enqueue_style() function of the current theme.

This is done by navigating to the WordPress administrative panel and going to the Appearance tab, from there on choose Editor and choose the file. Add in the font code as shown by Google’s screen.

The second mechanism of integrating them involves using third-party Google Fonts plugins. There are several ones available on the repositories — free and paid options are available.

Some of the tips that we can offer WordPress blog owners in this regard are the following:

  • Font Weight Limiting — Only the most widely used font weights should be loaded in the code snippet. Loading a complete font family is usually unnecessary and will require far more resources than a selected group of font types.
  • Local Fonts Hosting — In some cases, fonts can be hosted locally as opposed to the use of the Google Fonts remote repository. If a fast server is used, this can make boost the performance.
  • Google Fonts Specific Advantages — Many of the popular fonts hosted by Google’s repository allow people with disabilities to load the site correctly in their browsers.

Step 3: Images Optimization

Images and graphics elements constitute the most significant resources loading in most WordPress blogs. For this reason, their optimization should be one of the high-priority tasks when speed issues arise.

The most common sense for a slow-loading blog is typically low compressed images which are not suitable for web use. The choice of the most appropriate format depends mostly on the type of website and whether or not the images are animated and their intention.

For general-purpose images we recommend administrators to rely on progressive JPEG images. This is a new technology that is applied to a well-known format. When such an image is placed in a blog, it will show itself right away and start loading the complete data during the page load.

In practice, users will perceive that everything has loaded instantly. However, the complete loading takes place in the background as the site is read.

Progressive JPEG files are a better proposition than comparable formats when it comes to small-size images. Users will not be able to make out that the initial frame is pixelated and is loading in the background.

Other techniques for optimizing image resources include dynamic loading, a popular feature implemented in most modern themes.

This dramatically saves bandwidth and makes the sites much faster to load. If such a technique is implemented, only the shown resources in the current scroll of the site will be loaded. If the users navigate to another portion of the site, then at that time, more images will be loaded.

It’s also essential to ensure that good compression is maintained throughout the site. Most of the graphics editing programs have a particular export option called save for web that allows for the proper optimization.

This will spawn a dialog box in most programs, allowing the computer users to choose the level of compression and fine-tune it in percentages.

A good rule of thumb would be to implement these changes in theme JavaScript code. This will remove the reason to add in this functionality via a third-party plugin.

The WordPress developers should make sure that the largest image on a given page, post, category, or section of the blog is loaded first. This is very important as this indicates to Google that the site is specially optimized.

These types of images should also have the appropriate alt description tags, as well as implement the correct size (as detailed in the previous section) and position in the site. This is usually done automatically in most modern themes, while in others, this is typically an option that can be considered.

Step 4: Resources Optimization

optimization tip

One of the most effective ways to lower the WordPress loading speed for the visitors and increase the underlying engine’s performance is to decrease the number of optionally loaded resources. This is a case when WordPress site administrators use more complex themes or page builders.

As part of these mechanisms, many images, fonts, and JavaScript are loaded into the sites. And even though they are unused, they are still made part of the loaded code every time the visitors request the page.

This creates an enormous performance hurdle for the servers, especially if the blogs serve hundreds of visitors each minute. Several main types of resources should be reviewed and decreased to the maximum extent possible:

  • Images – This is one of the most important types of resources that should be lowered to a minimum. The exact strategy for how to do this will depend on the blog-type and the overall theme design. For example, some designer themes may add a particular graphics image when they enter a horizontal line tag. This can be disabled, which will withdraw the potential loading of the same image on many pages by all visitors. Furthermore, images should be carefully reviewed on a regular basis to remove duplicate content.
  • Fonts – Many of the larger themes load several whole font families automatically during the site loading. Unless all font weights and variants are used on the blog (which is rarely done), the unused ones can be safely omitted. Refer to the theme documentation to see how this can be done.
  • JavaScript Code – Badly optimized JavaScript snippets can actually severely lower the performance of the site. Normally when placed, the web browser will run the subsequently: a single section will be loaded, and the next one will not run until the first one has finished execution. This creates a long execution chain that can block if certain snippets do not run accordingly.
  • CSS Code – Similarly, the theme CSS code should be as minimal as possible. Most web developers follow a rule of thumb because all required scripts are declared in the main theme file so that the individual posts and pages are stripped of any unnecessary code loading.

These tips showcase some of the essential optimization techniques for vital WordPress resources.

Step 5: JavaScript and CSS Specific Optimization

A significant difference in site loading speed and engine performance is whether or not the CSS and pages JavaScript code are “minified”, this is a particular procedure that involves the reduction of requests and processing.

Minification in WordPress development refers to the practice of devising a site to insert specially-optimized code. It is referred to minified as non-important data is omitted: unnecessary lines, spaces, and characters from the lines of code.

This actually makes no difference for the webserver interpreters, results in smaller sizes, and speeds up the loading.

There are two ways through which this can be done:

  • Manual – This is done by manually going over each document and applying the necessary changes. This is the preferred option as this can potentially lead to the cleanest resulting document, especially at the hands of an experienced developer.
  • Automatic – This involves the use of special software that will essentially rewrite the code using predetermined instructions. In some cases, this can produce a worse result as the loading of the plugin, and its use may add to the main engine’s performance overhead.

Speed Result

These five tips constitute the most widely used ways to speed-up a running WordPress installation. While most of them are not that complicated to do, the advanced tweaks require programming knowledge to carry out all of the tasks. It would be better to avoid the use of automated plugins and make manual changes as much as possible to offload the main engine.

We at Howtohosting.guide generally advises everyone to go through these steps in the beginning before much content is uploaded.

This will make the initial indexing by search engines faster and create a higher initial ranking. In addition, it will prevent any possible issues from arising of code changes are done to production sites.

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