Having a website that loads fast is crucial to the survival of your WordPress site. There are two reasons for this, the first being that users will quickly click off your website if it takes too long to load.
The second reason is that Google places high importance on website speed as a search ranking factor. If your website loads slowly for Google’s crawler bots, your website score will be negatively impacted, lowering your search engine rankings.
So with that in mind, let’s go over some useful ways you can design a WordPress website for speed.
What causes slow WordPress pages?
It’s known that the primary reasons for slow WordPress pages are:
– Having a slow web host, or improperly configured web hosting server.
– Your WordPress configuration itself, such as not serving cached pages.
– Poorly coded plugins and themes.
– External scripts such as ad networks.
According to FreshySites, a web design agency in Washington DC, page speed is one of the most crucial elements of a website. If a page takes longer than 2 seconds to load, 47% of visitors will leave almost immediately, while 40% of visitors leave 3 seconds into the page loading process.
Compress your images
Reducing the size of your images is incredibly important for page loading speed, and it also benefits SEO as well. If you have many high resolution, uncompressed photos on your website, it will negatively impact your performance score given by Google’s crawler bots, thus lowering your search rankings.
It’s really easy to strike a balance between image size and quality. In Photoshop, you can simply open a jpeg, then use the “Export As” function which will allow you to reduce the quality while preserving details, and significantly reduce the image file size.
In this screenshot, setting the jpeg to 80% quality dropped the file size from 1.4 MB to 718 KB. There are also plugins for Photoshop to do this on entire batches of photos, saving you a lot of time.
You also have the option of converting your images to WebP format. It takes a bit more work setting up WebP display on your WordPress site, but is definitely worth it.
WebP is an image compression algorithm, designed by Google, that can significantly reduce file size while maintaining image quality. It will make a considerable difference in image loading and overall page loading time for your visitors and search engine crawl bots.
Choose a lightweight theme
The theme you choose for your WordPress website can have a dramatic impact on overall speed. This is because while some WordPress themes may be visually beautiful, they could also be poorly coded and slow your site down.
It’s best to go with a simple theme, or check out reviews of WordPress themes known to be fast.
Instead of installing a theme that is bloated with plug-ins and scripts, try figuring out which plug-ins you find absolutely essential, and then try to search for similar plug-ins you can install to your website, while being mindful of reviews mentioning speed and performance.
Use a video hosting service
It’s an absolutely terrible idea to host videos on your own server. Uploading videos directly to your own website is a guaranteed way to consume huge amounts of bandwidth, storage space, and possibly even be charged overage fees by your web host.
It’s highly recommended to use YouTube instead, and embed your videos from there. However, YouTube offers only one type of embed frame, and plays ads even on externally embedded videos.
But there are cases you don’t want to embed YouTube videos on your website. For example, if you’re creating a landing page that features video, you absolutely don’t want YouTube ads to load.
As an alternative to YouTube embedding, you can use (paid) alternative video hosting platforms like Jetpack Premium, Wistia, or vooPlayer, which offer a lot more flexibility and customization for a price.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
The location of your web hosting servers can make a big difference in site speed, depending on where your traffic is coming from.
If you’re running a local business website and your servers are in the same state, or even the same country, it’s likely no problem with modern internet speeds.
However if you’re trying to run a website with global traffic, you may find that visitors from other countries have significantly slower loading times on your website, as data crosses the ocean.
In that scenario you should consider a CDN, which is a network of servers around the world.
Each server will store important bits of your website so that the content can be delivered much faster to visitors around the world.