June 08, 2021
How to Improve Website Performance in WordPress

Pop-ups, broken links, and auto-playing videos are just some of the things that stress your readers out on websites. Slow loading times are the primary reason users bounce from a site.

You want your website’s visitors to have a great experience. You don’t want them to get all stressed out and leave because your site won’t load. The ultimate goal is for visitors to stay on your site, browse, and make a purchase.

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That’s why it’s essential to understand how to improve website performance in WordPress.

How to Improve Website Performance in WordPress

  • Invest in quality hosting
  • Update core technology
  • Minimize the theme
  • Maintain the database
  • Set up monitoring
  • Optimize images
  • Cache pages
  • Run a CDN
  • Use minification
  • Disable hotlinking

Causes of Slow Loading Speeds

Nothing will make a visitor leave your site faster than slow loading speed. If the page doesn’t load for them immediately, they’ll click off and find another option. Slow load time causes a higher bounce rate, costs you return visitors, and eliminates the potential for a sale.

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Various things cause slow loading speeds on websites, including:

  • Poor Hosting. Your website will load more slowly if your web hosting server isn’t properly configured.
  • Page Size. Large page files cause your website to load slowly. Large pages typically are caused by images that aren’t optimized or compressed for online use.
  • Bad Plugins. Poorly coded or infrequently updated plugins can slow your site down significantly.
  • Browser Cache. If your site is not providing cached pages, load times will be substantially longer.
  • External Scripts. External scripts such as ads and font loaders can negatively impact your site’s performance.

How to Improve Website Performance in WordPress

Now that you know some things that might cause your site to load slowly, here’s how to improve website performance in WordPress.

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Invest in Quality Hosting

The company that hosts your website matters. Don’t just go with the first web hosting company you find in a Google search. And price does matter. The cheapest option when it comes to hosting is probably not the best choice for performant sites.

Do some research and ask for recommendations. Be willing to invest in a hosting company with a strong reputation that balances speed with comfort and cost.

“Get the best host you can afford; one that genuinely cares about caching and speed, etc.” — Brin Wilson of Winning WP

Update Core Technology

There is a reason there are new versions of technology like HTML, PHP, etc. They contain improvements and new features that help improve speed and performance. Therefore, you need to keep them updated. Use the latest WordPress version for the best performance.

Minimize the Theme

You want your theme to reflect your brand’s image, but you have to be careful about the theme you choose. Some of them are just bloated with unnecessary features that slow down your site.

“Start with the barebones theme. There are a lot of bloated commercial themes that are packed with things you’ll likely never use.” — Web Designer Eric Karkovack

Do your best to find a theme that provides what you need and nothing extra. It’s best to get a minimal theme and add the functionality you need via plugins. That way, you aren’t running anything unnecessary to your site’s operations.

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Maintain the Database

Regular database maintenance is vital for keeping your database lean, clean, and operating smoothly. Items to remove from the database include uninstalled plugins and post revisions. Tools are available to help you clean your database if you aren’t sure how to do it yourself.

You also can hire an outside service to clean it for you. This is also where your hosting company plays a role. The right hosting companies do regular maintenance of the databases.

Patrick Garman of Mindsize says he has strong opinions about the importance of maintaining your database.

“A plugin can’t solve a performance problem. It can only hide it. It’s better to instead find the root cause and solve that.”

Set Up Monitoring

It’s entirely possible that your site runs slowly for others but not for you. That’s why you need to set up monitoring to measure your site’s speed regularly. Monitoring allows you to ensure your site is running at its best and make any necessary updates.

Optimize Images

Images take up the most space on a page. They are likely to impact loading time if you don’t make them as small as possible without losing quality. There are many websites you can use to compress photos before you put them on your site. You don't need to learn how to optimize images for WordPress yourself — there are plugins available to do this automatically.

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Cache Pages

Cache for WordPress means storing commonly accessed data to speed up processing. A computer can access this information quickly while retrieving any new information related to the site. Caching is the most common way to get your website to load faster and generally perform better. You can use a plugin for caching. Your web host likely also includes this service.

Run a CDN

A content delivery network distributes the work of delivering content to your web browser. Using a CDN is more efficient because it increases the number of sources, their closeness, and caching. Services are available to do this for you, but it also may be part of your web host package.

Use Minification

Minification reduces website load time by eliminating unnecessary content in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files. Plugins are available to do this. It also may be part of your package with your web host.

Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is using images in your content that you don’t host on your site. Instead of putting the image in your media library, you provide a link to a site the image loads from. People also can use images from your site in this way.

Hotlinking takes away from your bandwidth because your server has to work to deliver the image to another site. It also adds nothing to your site’s traffic.

Improve WordPress Website Performance with Nexcess

There’s a lot to consider about how to improve website performance in WordPress. As you can see, many factors affect loading time.

But the single greatest factor affecting website performance is your host.

A good host company, like Nexcess, will manage your site, so you don’t have to worry about slow loading times. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Or, try fully managed WordPress hosting from Nexcess. Experience faster load times and accelerated site speed for yourself. Check out our plans to get started today.

Luke Cavanagh
Luke Cavanagh

Luke Cavanagh, Strategic Support & Accelerant at Liquid Web, brings a decade of experience working with WordPress and WooCommerce to our product team. His GitHub page offers a glimpse into his multiple areas of subject matter expertise.

"Ninja stuff with WordPress and WooCommerce," is an apropos way to describe Luke's savviness with these platforms — and his way of influencing our organization for improving to them.

Coming out of the University of Brighton with a Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) Higher National Diploma (HND) in 2D & 3D Design, Luke's credentials prepared him well for his current role that blends both web development and design. His HND credential leveraged his foundational learning at West Kent College, where is received a National Diploma (ND) in Graphic Design.

In his personal life, Luke is a devoted husband and teen wrangler. He considers himself a Synthwave enthusiast, Jerry Goldsmith fan, and Doctor Who aficionado. He is happy to introduce his friends and teammates to essential vocabulary for life found only in British English, such as "gubbins" and similar terms.

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