Your WordPress site may not feel slow to you but that’s because your browser has most likely already cached it, which means you won’t experience what a new visitor does. There are a number of sites and tools which allow you to test the speed of your site and experience it as a new user would. One of the main tools we use to test our site speed is gtmetrix.com simply enter your site and alter the options to suit your needs. Once you’ve entered your site and the analysis is complete you will be shown a list of optimised and un-optimised characteristics of your site, from this page you can see how and what needs to be done.

Below you’ll find a list of discussion points that you will definitely need to pay attention to!

  • The importance of a web host
  • Am I using a good theme?
  • Optimise your images for the web
  • Minify Javascript and CSS when possible

The Importance of a Web Host

There are a number of aspects of a web host you need to consider,

  • Security
  • Uptime/Downtime
  • Speed
  • IP Location
  • Tech Support

A quality web host determines how accessible your website is and that’s why a dedicated web server is so important. A poor web host will cause more downtime and a slower site which will result in a loss of conversions on your site.

Not only is downtime a cause for concern but a slow site speed can also mean your chosen web host is not right for you. The internet is a highly competitive environment in which websites battle to be on the front page of search engines, with this in mind you need to make sure your site is easily and quickly accessible when the user needs it, this is one of the reasons why Google, Bing and other search engines look at site speed for a major ranking factor (more on this later). There are several things you should ask about when speaking with a web hosting agency such as; what hard drive technology do you currently use? Do you use a CDN (content delivery network)?  Are you optimised for WordPress? That’s just a few questions that can very quickly give you an idea into the sort of web hosting service they have to offer and whether or not it will suit your needs.

Security, this is an essential piece to question, if your site is not secure you will miss out on a huge number of conversions and put your site and customers at risk. With the ever increasing number of viruses on the web today it is crucial your web host provides top quality security and that you and everyone involved in the site take it very seriously.

For those of you who have uploaded files to your hosting account you are probably familiar with FTP or File Transfer Protocol. This is used to transfer files from your computer to your hosts account in order to publish them on your site. SFTP is exactly the same, however, with one very important difference, SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol which provides an additional layer of protection when compared to the usual FTP standards. This is recommended and provided by a number of web hosting agencies in order to prevent a tremendous amount of damage to your site as FTP access allows the user to bring the entire site down and without a backup this could mean the end of your business.

The last point i want to discuss before moving on to “Am i choosing a good theme?” is website backups. One of the best things you can do for your site it back it up, do this regularly or after important or time consuming tasks to prevent downtime or loss of data. If you choose the right web hosting agency then this is as easy as clicking a button, or you can setup backup intervals to occur every day or once or twice a week. Speak with your web hosts and ask how they backup their servers, where they’re stored and how often they do it.

Am I Using a Good Theme?

WordPress is a very powerful platform that allows users to build incredible websites, as of 2017 27% of websites are powered by WordPress, that’s over 19 million WordPress 4.7 downloads and over 10,000 themes created. With those stats in mind, do you know which theme is optimised for you?

Let’s start simple.

What sort of website are you building? An e-commerce site? A blog? Service offering site?

Depending on the product or service you offer there are thousands of potential themes to choose from, one of the main aspects you want to check for is if they are mobile responsive. Mobile responsiveness is a must in today’s marketing.

Once you’ve found the theme for your site make sure it has exactly what you need or that you have someone who can edit it to suit your needs, for example, that mega menu on the theme, do you need it? If not then remove it. Large menus have been known to cause speed issues on many websites.

Great! You’ve chosen your theme, it’s all fancy with loads of sliding panels, swirling buttons and videos! But you’ve also made your site extremely slow, all that JavaScript and CSS that loads all of those swirling buttons will slow your site down dramatically! If you don’t need then don’t get it. This isn’t to say that all websites with videos, swirling button and sliding panels are slow, it simply means you are going to have to work harder to keep the site speed where you want it and also you will most likely need to minify the Javascript and CSS but more on that later.

Optimise Your Images For The Web

Images are one of the most common causes for a slow site. When you upload a single image to any website it is crucial you scale the image to correct size it needs to be before you upload it! The example image shows the “Natural  size” And how HTML and CSS has altered the image size to suit.

This is a very common occurrence on most websites including the global site Amazon, they’ll upload an image that is much to large or small and the HTML or CSS will stretch the image to fit the area required. These images will require more resources from the server to do, which in turn slows your site down dramatically.

GtMetrix is a great site to see how your images are performing, they’ll show you exactly which images are optimised and offer you a download link for the more optimised image allowing you to promptly swap them and increase your site speed.

Minify Javascript and CSS When Possible

During a site speed test whether that be with GtMetrix or Google Page Speed Insights there is a high chance they will recommend that you minify your JavaScript and CSS. Minifying your CSS or JavaScript simply means removing any unneeded characters such as indents or spaces. On some occasions this can cause a few problems so be sure to backup your site before hand. However, it can dramatically increase the speed of your site as load times will be improved as each files size will decrease. Once all that unnecessary data has been removed the server will send that file to the user when they access your site saving up to 50% on download time for each user.

Depending on the scripts you are using will depend on exactly how much of an improvement you will receive, but either way if done correctly and with caution there shouldn’t be any harm in doing so. As previously mentioned though, when minifying any code there can be some situations in which the code will then be slightly incorrect causing a few small or major issues so be sure to have a backup on hand just in case you fall in this category.

There are a huge number of ways of optimising a WordPress site and the above are just a select few, not only that but it always depends on your current circumstances as to why your site is much slower than others. Whether or not you understand why your site is slow you can always do the research and find out why very easily as long as you put the time and effort into it you will find out what is causing you such a headache and if you work hard enough you will resolve the issues if you have the knowledge or the time to gain the knowledge.

Many sites see website speed as just a user problem and tend to avoid the topic as much as they can, however, this should never be the case as it is a major ranking factor and one which should be taken very serious. User experience is everything in today digital marketing, if a user cannot quickly and easily navigate your site then you have a major issue which must be resolved! If you would like further assistance or information on this topic we can provide you with that, simply fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you.