As a website owner, you’re always looking for ways to improve your site’s performance and speed. One of the tools you might consider using is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). In this post, we’ll take a look at what a CDN is and why it’s a good idea to use a CDN for your WordPress website.
(Quick spoiler: all of our managed WordPress hosting customers make use of our global CDN network, we set it up and enable it for each and every one of our hosting customers).
A CDN is a network of servers that are distributed around the world. When a user requests a resource (think a webpage and / or an image that is part of your page), the CDN will deliver that resource from the server that is closest to the user. This means that the resource can be delivered more quickly and efficiently than if it were delivered from a server that is located far away.
Page load time is an important factor that affects a user’s experience on your website (no-one likes to stick around on a sluggish website) and your search engine rankings. Using a CDN, you can improve your site’s page load times. Since the CDN delivers resources from the server that is closest to the user, it can reduce the time it takes to load a page.
If your site experiences a lot of traffic, a CDN can help to reduce the load on your site. By distributing the load across multiple servers (because users are in different geographic locations), a CDN can handle more requests and prevent your site from becoming overloaded.
A CDN can also improve your site’s security. Since the CDN delivers resources from its own servers, it can help to prevent DDoS attacks and other types of attacks on your site. This can help to ensure that your site remains up and running even during an attack.
We use the CloudFlare CDN, transparently for all our managed hosting clients. On top of the standard features outlines above, there are some unique tools when using CloudFlare. One such offering is their image optimisation tool Polish. Let’s dig into what that is!
Polish includes several different tools, including lossless and lossy compression, image resizing, and WebP conversion. Generally speaking this compression makes the file size of your image smaller without (much) difference in visual quality – your image still looks the same). Lossless compression reduces the file size of an image without affecting its quality at all. While lossy compression sacrifices some quality to achieve a greater reduction in file size. WebP conversion is a newer image format that can provide better compression than traditional formats like JPEG and PNG. The CDN, on-the-fly does creates a WebP version of your image an update your webpage’s code to serve it to the user.
It’s worth noting that while Polish can be a powerful tool for improving your site’s performance, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s still best practice to provide the smallest file size image you can in your WordPress dashboard. Then let Polish squeeze every bit of optimisation out of it.
Wrapping up, there is a bit of an introduction to CDNs, specifically CloudFlare and how it works to keep your WordPress site humming along.