What’s Slowing You Down? Tips for Speeding the Load Times of WordPress Sites

A common question clients ask web developers is, “Can my website load any faster?” Having a faster website can mean increased sales and a better experience for customers.

It’s possible to decrease your website’s load time to under one second—but first, you need to identify what is holding your load speed back. This offers a few tips to help WordPress developers identify what’s slowing a site down.

1. LACK OF CACHING IN CORE

By default, WordPress reads all content from your database, and the same goes for its e-commerce platform, WooCommerce. You might not notice this too much when you have a small blog with a couple of posts, but add WooCommerce and a couple of hundred products to an online store and you’ll start to see load times slow down.A solid caching architecture can dramatically boost the performance of your site. Run-time, page, and object caching are all efficient, inexpensive ways to streamline the way your site pulls and stores data for users. Look into popular WordPress plugins like Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

2. UNDERPOWERED SHARED HOSTING

One of the greatest hurdles for good load speed is your web host. Using an underpowered host for your WooCommerce store will result in terrible speeds. You get what you pay for—and you’ll really feel the pinch if you skimp on hosting for an e-commerce site.For many, the simple act of getting a quality web host can significantly increase conversion rates. An increased load speed will provide a better experience for customers and make it quicker and easier to complete order. Also, when it comes time to scale your business up, you’ll have invested in a hosting solution that can rise to the occasion.

3. TOO MANY POORLY WRITTEN PLUGINS AND BLOATED THEMES

There’s a myth that the number of plugins installed on a site causes slow load times; it’s actually the quality of the plugin that makes a difference. Many store owners and WordPress users will install any plugin they come across, without realizing that it may be poorly written and cause performance bottlenecks on their site. It’s important to develop a good sense for detecting whether a plugin is impacting the performance of your site. Know your average load times and see if these are impacted when you install a new plugin, or run a plugin profiler to get measurements on how plugins affect your site’s load time.The same idea applies to WordPress themes. Many themes are poorly coded and can cause significant performance issues for your website.

4. FAILING TO MINIFY

Minification cuts unnecessary characters from source code without changing what it does. If you’re using a WooCommerce theme for your site, JavaScript is minified by default for speed optimization. However, if you’re looking to shave some additional time off of your page load, you’ll need to install Better WordPress (BWP) Minify, which uses the Minify PHP library, to combine and compress your CSS3 and JavaScript files.For example, here is how you’d configure BWP Minify for the “Captiva” WP theme:

  • Open BWP Minify > General Options.
  • Deselect “Minify JS files automatically.” This is important because, by default, Captiva minifies any JavaScript files that can be minified. If you leave JavaScript minification active in the BWP Minify plugin, this may cause your site to malfunction.
  • Select “Minify CSS files automatically?”

Give any of these time-saving tips a try and watch your load times of WordPress sites get dramatically faster. 

Credits: Shreyansh Harsora , first published on Upwork

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