As we provide wordpress support services we’re constantly optimising WordPress websites here. It also means we have definitely seen some faux pas when it comes to WordPress speed optimisation. In general, the ‘clunkier’ the theme the more tricky to optimise.
It is important to keep in particular pages lightweight, scripts minified and ensure you have caching set up correctly on page.
Serve your media through a CDN also to assist with image heavy websites and convert your images to webp format.
Optimising WordPress for Speed – The checklist :
Check your Hosting / Server
The very first thing to check is that your server / hosting package CAN handle your website. If your website is a brochure website for example, you may be fine on shared hosting. However, for an Ecommerce WordPress website or a forum based website, this is an entirely different matter.
Ecommerce and Forums in particular run alot of dynamic content, these include dynamic requests to the database and this is what we can’t cache! (For example, cart content, currency rates) .
It is important to check that your website runs smoothly on the package – we recommend a cloud VPS solution that is scalable for Ecommerce. Ensure you have enough resources – such as RAM and CPU to handle the requests to the database.
Not sure what you need? We’re happy to have a look and help – get in touch with us today for a free audit
Cleanup WordPress database – No one likes database bloat!
Run database maintenance (but back up before hand!) A lot is kept in your database and if you’re deleting plugins it is worth noting sometimes, your plugin data and those tables still remain in your database. Comments, spam, spam users, plugin data, for example – all of this is in your database so it worth keeping it clean and maintained.
If you run a woo commerce store be sure to regularly archive your orders to keep the size down. The smaller your database the quicker requests can be processed. Light and speedy is what we need.
Health Check your plugins – do you need them all?
Third party plugins and requests can really add weight to your speed and performance. We advise checking through monthly to ensure all are needed.
TIP – if your website it plugin heavy – check if you can help performance by serving their scripts only on selected pages. One of our favourite tools for this is WordPress Plugin Asset Manager
Try to avoid an excessive DOM (Document Object Model) size
Use a theme that is lightweight and optimised for speed.
Pay close attention to your theme, page builder, plugins. When the browser loads your page, there may be elements that you may not need and this will add to your page DOM tree.
One of our favourite lightweight themes is Astra
Keep your code as clean as possible and lightweight, the more complex the larger your page DOM. Of course, on some sites, it is unavoidable due to the type of website – but it is worth noting as it all adds up.
Compressing Images on WordPress for speed
Images are a great touch to any website and without them, well, its just not that pretty is it! However, it’s important that you ensure these are not only re-sized correctly on page, but they are also compressed well. We usually run these directly through Adobe Photoshop and save for web to ensure the best size and quality. But it doesn’t end there.
DO – Use a CDN and look also to lazy load images depending on your set up
DO – compress and re-size your images correctly – often online we fine people just upload the largest file size and serve on page – this is detrimental for 2 reasons, load time and also visitor viewing
DO serve your images in next gen format – Webp and compress. Using a tool such as Smush or Imagify can really assist here and keep those image file sizes small!
Use GZIP Compression to help speed things up
Check with your server/hosting company first as GZIP compression needs to be enabled on the server first to use.
What is GZIP compression? GZIP compression is a data-compressing process where the size of your file is reduced at the server before it is sent to the browser, allowing the browser to render your content faster.
Using Video on your website
Personally, unless you have enough resources with your hosting, we advise not to have long videos on your website homepage and ideally if you really need to, don’t auto play. (However cool it looks – we know!)
If you are using video :
DO – keep it short (a few seconds max!) Videos of a minute or longer can really add issues to initial page load
DO – Compress – then compress again! Lossless compressing the video will mean you keep the quality but reduce the file size.
DON’T – display on mobile if possible (use an image place holder instead (or disable auto play))