WordPress Performance: a checklist of things to speed up your website

Got a slow WordPress site? Get an understanding of the key areas where WordPress can be optimised to ensure fast load times for visitors.

WordPress Performance
WordPress Performance Tuning

WordPress, out of the box is a great platform for most website builds. A finished WordPress site however still needs to be configured to run quickly. Fast page loads are important for a modern website. Your visitors are quick to move on when pages take time to arrive, particularly those browsing on mobile devices. Page speed is also important for your WordPress site’s SEO rankings.

At The DMA, each site that goes live is tuned for speed. More recently we’ve been even more fastidious about this. It’s our job to ensure that each site we launch loads like a rocket!

In this article we’re going to share some of the areas that we look at to keep things running quickly.

Image optimisation within WordPress

This is probably the big one for a lot of sites. Not just at initial launch but over the life of the website. It doesn’t matter how fast your hosting is, how good your caching is…. If you’re trying to deliver images that are just too large, (think file size) you’ve got a performance problem.

Check out this article Improve WordPress Performance by optimising images to get up to speed on performance hacks around images.

WordPress Caching

WordPress works by storing the content (think your text, categories, tags etc.. ) in a database. When a visitor loads a page, the web server queries the database for the relevant content, builds the page and send it to the visitor’s web browser. 10 seconds later, someone else visits the same page. The same process happens. There is a lot of overhead here and the whole thing takes valuable time.

Caching is all about storing copies of these pages so that when the second (and third and one millionth!) visitor arrives they see a copy of the page instead of all the work to talk to the database and build it on the spot. Caching comes in many different flavours. Years ago it was common to install plugins into WordPress that would take care of this. More recently it’s easier to go for hardware or network available caching. In English? Get other cloud based computer to store the copies of these pages.

We work alongside best of bread hosting outfits like WP Engine and CloudFlare. Together we’ve put together a WordPress tuned hosting system that can scale up to many millions of page loads each month. Each one them as fast as possible.

Even on a tight budget it’s now possible to access some amazing hosting setups that will allow your content to fly, chat to our team to learn more what’s possible here.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

This is related to the above section on caching. In many ways the two go hand in hand. Once again years ago running a site on a CDN was an expensive business. Not now, it’s in reach of even the smallest website.

To understand what a CDN is and how it can really boost your website’s speed read this article¬†WordPress hosting; time to add a CDN?

Optimising your code

Ok, so this section might get a little nerdy but it’s worth it. At least understand the concepts, then certainly chat to us about getting these things done on your WordPress site.

A web page is put together from a number of things. An HTML file (all of your content), one but probably multiple CSS files (these are style sheets that control the design, colours, layout etc.. ), other code like Javascript and then your images. Getting all of this to your user’s web browser as quickly as possible is a key part of any WordPress performance optimisation.

And, there are many tricks to it.

You can enable compression so that some of these files can be made smaller and therefore delivered over the network faster. Concatenating multiple files into one. This can be done with CSS and Javascript files so that the browser can make one request and get the entire payload in one go. Using sprites you can do the same with images. Put many different images together into one so that the browser only has to make one request over the network.

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of all this here. Suffice to say it can be complex but rest assured that those sites that perform well are almost certainly making use of these methods.

While there are others area that our team look at when working on a site these three areas are the big ones. If you have a problem with WordPress performance chat to our team about how we might be able to help.

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