The loading speed is an important aspect of a website, both for SEO and user experience. For users, it is frustrating to wait for a website to be loaded for a long time and usually when it takes more than three seconds, the user just leaves the website. Simple as that. For Google, it is not interesting to deliver a website that will probably be abandoned by users. All the webdesign work and content creation will be in vain if users do not have patience to see.
Here I show seven simple tips to optimize websites in WordPress, but most of the tips apply to any type of website. Try it and you will be able to increase up to 300% loading speed! I chose WordPress because, besides being the management platform of most popular websites in the world, is the one with greater support from developer community, which is constantly developing new plugins, tutorials and updates. Depending on the platform you will optimize, you will need to find the plugin or equivalent solution, but the concept behind the tip remains the same.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Pingdom Tools, however, is a DNS diagnostic tool that does the opposite of Page Speed Insights. The Pingdom Tools analyzes the HTTP requests made by your site, which is: requests, images, scripts, style sheets and external resources (social widgets, videos, iframes, ajax etc.). The coolest thing is that Pingdom generates a report of all your website files, showing the time the file was requested, how long it took the server to respond, the loading time and when the request is finished. That way, you can identify performance bottlenecks – which, otherwise, you would not notice – such as heavy files, slow server, external scripts (such as Facebook), broken links etc. Another cool feature in Pingdom is that it shows how long it takes to load your website in different parts of the world, because depending on the distance from where your website is hosted, it may load more slowly.
Plugin WP Fastest Cache
Images correspond to more than a half of the traffic of a website, therefore are one of the best ways to optimize loading speed. Smush.it is a Yahoo! service that reduces the size of images without losing quality. The best of all is that there is also a Smush.it plugin in WordPress that optimizes the images by the time you upload them and also allows to optimize all images that have already been sent.
Install the essentials only
WordPress has plugins for just about every need of a website, and that’s good. But some plugins are actual performance villains and even the lighter ones generate some extra processing. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the installed plugins. A useful tip is: disable the plugins that are not needed at the moment and uninstall those that are not in use for a long time. The major performance villains are the plugins that access external servers, such as Disqus comment system or social sharing bars. These plugins need many scripts and style files to run, and it makes the website slow and cumbersome, especially on 3G connections. Just use Pingdom Tools to identify the plugins that are delaying the loading of your site.
Steve Jobs used to say one thing that I keep as a lesson: “I’m proud of the things I do not do as much of what I do.” That’s why iPod, iPhone and iPad devices have a button. They did not need more than one. Think about it when creating a website. Ask yourself: Do I need to use the image gallery? This layout works only with standard fonts? You will notice that your design decisions will stand out more when you do less, and your websites will be much lighter.
As previously mentioned, the farther your site is hosted, the slower loading. To resolve this problem, there is a service called CDN (Content Delivery Network) which distribute content for servers around the world. Thus, when a user accesses your site, he/she connects to the closest server, making the access much faster. Some CDN will go even further, reducing the size of files and generating cache like Google PageSpeed Service and CloudFlare, and both are free.