Your WordPress site is slow, and you’re losing page views and revenue because of it. But you’re also busy – I get it. Here’s seven speed tips you could have a crack at on your lunch break – they’re so simple and easy.
This is a two-parter. The first thing is to equip yourself with the knowledge of using the best format for the job. When we talk about images used on the web, it’s generally restricted to either a JPG or PNG. PNG is a lossless format, best suited to simple images and illustrations, or screenshots. JPG is a lossy format suitable for photographs – it can retain the detail at varying levels of quality. If you’re uploading photographs in PNG format, you probably have images that are up to ten times as big as they would be if you used JPG. Just bear in mind that JPG loses a little detail and clarity each time modifications are made and it’s saved – so always export from your originals.
- Use JPG for photos, but only export once.
- Use PNG for illustrations and screenshots
Second – even if you are using the the correct image format, chances are you could still be making savings by compressing and optimizing those images. EWWW Image Optimizer is a simple plugin that will do this for automatically as you upload them to WordPress. You can also run the optimizer over all your existing images, potentially shaving up to 95% with no noticeable loss in quality; and even convert to and from PNG and JPG if you did choose the wrong format. That alone will make a huge difference to loading time for the end user. What are you waiting for?
Pay for a CDN
Instant rocket fuel for any website: CloudFlare is a hybrid cache, CDN, DDoS protection and firewall. It sits at the DNS level intercepting incoming traffic, rejects the bad stuff and optimises the good stuff.
If you’re hosting on MediaTemple, it’s a one click install. Just add the free service to your account, then toggle it on for each domain. They’ll take of the necessary DNS configuration changes so your traffic is first filtered through CloudFlare. If you’re not hosting with MediaTemple, it’s still free and easy for a basic account, but you’ll need to make the DNS changes yourself with your domain provider.
Turn on Caching
Caching is a bit of a dark art and particular care needs to be taken if you have user sessions, an eCommerce setup, or a heavily dynamic page – but for many websites enabling caching will be a one-click job. After installing w3 Total Cache, choose Disk enhanced caching from the General Settings -> Page Cache section to have pages generated then served statically from disk.
If you’re just looking for page caching and not the additional CDN tools, WP-SuperCache may be a better choice.
Voila: instant speed boost. Note that neither of these tools will server cached files to you if you’re logged in as admin, so don’t be alarmed if you personally can’t see a difference! Try using a PageSpeed analyser tool to check instead.
GZIP compresses your page before sending it to the user, significantly reducing the total file size that needs to be sent. If you’ve installed w3 Total Cache, you’ll find the option on the Browser settings -> Enable HTTP gzip compression, but if not – and assuming your server supports it – try adding the following to your .htaccess file:
Call in the Pros
Owning your own Virtual Private Server (several different types of hosting are available) is great for those who like to tinker, but you need to remember that out of the box it’s like buying a new graphics card and only using default VGA drivers – they rarely come configured for optimal WordPress performance. I recently dealt with a client whose WordPress eCommerce site was experiencing a lot of fatal errors traceable only to lack of memory. Server configuration is out of my league, so we had MediaTemple CloudTech investigate. For a one-off fee of $80, they optimised NGINX and Apache – with shockingly good results – more than 10 times increase in requests per second that the server could handle. The investigative part is free, so you need only pay if they find problems and think they could help.
Slim Down Your Theme
These tips really shouldn’t take too long to implement, so if you haven’t already done them then you’re throwing away potential revenue. Do you have any other quick tips for a speed boost?