There are countless factors that can influence your website loading speed, but it’s very difficult and sometimes even not possible to optimize all of them (for example on a shared hosting). Regardless, there are a few factors that you must take into account to greatly improve your overall loading speed, even without getting too technical.
What to take into account to improve your website loading speed.
Even without doing any in-depth optimization, you can make you website a lot faster if you put particular care in these 5 common factors that can slow it down. Fixing these issues sometimes requires a small investment, but it can be done by everyone even if you don’t have a technical background. Let’s see what are the 5 most common factors that slow down your WordPress website:
1. Bad hosting
One of the major factors that affects your loading speed is your hosting provider. Your website can be slowed down by a misconfigured or extremely low specs server, or your provider simply hosts your website with a gazillion of others on the same machine. The rule of thumb is: don’t trust extremely cheap hosting providers, they are cheap for a reason. We don’t offer hosting packages, but we have our preferred providers, depending on the requirements and budget of each client:
- Siteground: from $3.95/month
Perfect for WordPress beginners with small or medium-sized website. They have their own caching system that can do wonders to your website, and their support is one of the quickest out there. It’s definitely one of the best providers in this price range.
- Flywheel: from $15.00/month
If you are looking for a hassle-free and easy to use WordPress managed hosting, Flywheel is the answer. Their price tag is a bit higher than Siteground, but you have servers optimized for WordPress speed and security, and you won’t have to worry about any technical stuff.
- Pagely: from $499.00/month
It’s one of the best enterprise solutions for WordPress websites. You pay a lot, but you get a white-glove treatment and the best performances you can expect from a top-notch server. Definitely not for everyone, but if a big part of your business relies on a WordPress website, you should consider the investment.
2. Too many badly coded plugins
It’s very easy to find a plugin for most of your needs, but it’s also easy to clutter your WordPress installation with dozens of plugins. We’ve heard nightmerish stories about websites with more than 600 plugins installed, but luckily it didn’t happen to us (yet).
Having a lot of plugins installed will surely slow down your website by adding more PHP code to be loaded, database queries, http requests or API calls. On top of that they can make the whole code structure more complex, increasing the risk of crashes due to some incompatibilities, possibly adding security breaches, and decreasing the general system reliability and performances.
However, sometimes a new plugin is a “necessary evil”, due to the specific features required by your website. In these cases try to always choose the best plugin, keeping an eye on avoiding duplicate functionalities, and getting the best performances and security doing a proper research.
3. Too many widgets on your pages
If you clutter your homepage with dozens of widgets, it will contribute to the decrease of your website’s performances by adding more database queries and PHP code to be loaded. Always try to plan ahead and design your homepage by showing only content which is really useful to your visitors. Both them and your website will greatly benefit from it. Nobody really needs that weather forecast widget, unless your website is a about weather forecasts.
4. Unoptimized images
Most of the times, images have the biggest impact on the page size, and consequently on your loading speed. Since even the crappiest smartphone has a digital camera capable of producing a several megapixel photo, it’s easy to bloat your website with unnecessarily heavy images. Those pictures are way too big and definitely unoptimized to be uploaded on a blog or a company’s website.
There are a couple of ways to resize and compress images and drastically reduce their file size (in some cases up to 70 or 80%) without losing any perceptible quality:
- Resize and compress images before uploading them. This is the best way to save disk space, bandwidth, and increase the loading speed; but not everyone is skilled enough with Photoshop or similar image manipulation softwares to complete this task.
- Enable automatic resizing and compression on your website by using a service like Shortpixel (which is included, without limitations, in our WOptimize Enterprise plan).
5. Lack of a caching system
Nowadays you can enable a proper caching mechanism on your WordPress website with just a couple of clicks, so you have no excuses if you’re not caching your pages. Our preferred plugins on shared hosting are Cache Enabler (free), or SG Optimizer (free) if you’re hosted on Siteground. On better performing servers, a properly configured W3 Total Cache (free) can do wonders, but if you’re not too tech-savvy, WP Rocket (premium) is a reliable and easy to use choice.
High-end WordPress managed hosting provider (like Flywheel and Pagely) will even take care of that for you, configuring the best caching system for your website, so you won’t have to install any additional plugin. A win-win situation.
What else can you do?
Optimizing your website loading speed can go further by optimizing your code, configuring your hosting, and adding a Content Delivery Network (CDN), just to name a few actions you can take. Unfortunately, a better optimization requires a lot of tinkering and good programming skills; do a mistake and you risk of achieving the opposite result or, even worse, breaking your website.
If you don’t want to cope with all that, our WOptimize Enterprise plan includes an ongoing speed optimization service which can make your website blazing fast!
[ Cover mockup by Zan Ilic on Creative Market ]