The World Wide Web is evolving on an almost constant basis. New technologies are enabling site owners and content producers to deliver richer, more immersive content without hampering user experience. In fact, sites are now focusing on user experience for all the right reasons. Search engines prioritize websites that offer good UX, while users now have shorter attention span and demand better experience in general.
There is no doubt that speed plays a big part of that user experience. A site that is well-designed will only do so much if it fails to load in a timely manner. Fortunately, there are several great tips that will help keep your WordPress site fast and optimized. We are going to take a closer look at 5 of those tips in this article.
Use Browser Caching
Browser caching, when implemented correctly, can help reduce the time needed to load a page by a substantial amount. You can cut away more than 2 seconds off your page loading time just by caching static elements that get loaded frequently. The upper logo and those big photos you display in a slideshow at the top of the site don’t always have to be loaded from the server.
There are several ways to handle browser caching in WordPress. You can rely on plugins such as the W3 Total Cache to configure how different elements are cached. You can also set up your server to handle caching configurations for you. Speaking of servers….
Use WordPress-Optimized Hosting
A lot of websites, even some of the more extensive ones, are run on a shared hosting plan; there is actually nothing wrong with this choice, because WordPress is a fairly light platform that doesn’t use a lot of server resources. That said, there are ways to configure the server to match the needs of a WordPress site better.
Simple tweaks such as better database query handling and integration of Nginx caching can really help improve the speed of a WordPress site by a whopping 80%. This boost in speed alone is worth opting for a WordPress-optimized web hosting service for your website.
Despite the extensive resources on how to handle images on a website, mishandling of images and photos is still the most common optimization mistake made by a lot of site owners. I even came across a blogger who uploads full-resolution photos from his camera directly to his blog at one point.
Images processed specifically for websites are small in size, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize them even further. By removing unnecessary metadata, colour profile and other information that are irrelevant to the site, you can save an average of 30% off the size of your images. That once again translates to a nice boost in speed for the whole site.
Structure Your Content
Always focus on loading the main contents first. The basic wireframe and navigation of the site, the main body and essential images must be programmed to load first. You can then load additional elements, such as images placed below the fold, in the background while visitors are already started with reading the main content.
WordPress isn’t primarily designed to handle this type of structuring, but modern themes and some of the latest plugins can help optimize your entire site in just a few clicks. There are even plugins designed to lazy-load larger images.
Use a Local Server and CDN
Last but not least, try to get closer to your viewers whenever possible. If you’re targeting viewers in the UK, using a UK-based hosting service is the way to go. You can then add a Content Distribution Network or CDN to get closer to users in other parts of the world.
CDNs are basically mirror servers that are used to widen the reach of your site. When a user from a particular location access your domain name, the CDN system will determine the closest server location and automatically point the user’s request to the nearest server. It is like hosting your site on multiple servers, but only static elements get stored across the globe.
These 5 tips will help speed up your WordPress site considerably. Make the necessary changes and use benchmarking tools – Google PageSpeed is a good start – to help you measure the impact of each optimization. Speed up the site without ruining the user experience or breaking the user interface if you are serious about gaining the most advantage from speed.