Website speed for user experience

Improving Your WordPress Loading Speed

The easiest way to speed up your blog is to switch to a premium WordPress hosting. A few months ago, when I moved my site to WPEngine, my speed went from 7s to 1.9s.

So if you don’t want to waste your time with technical side of things, then by all means go with WPEngine. Although, they are little expensive compared to most of the shared hosting providers, and that’s mainly because they provide quality support and faster loading websites. I have been with them for last 3+ months and never ran into a single problem.

I am pretty sure that wpengine is not for everyone, so in this post I will be sharing some of the simple, yet most effective tips to improve your blog’s loading speed.

1. Install a Caching Plugin

W3 Total Cache is my first choice, when it comes to cache plugins. Though, there are many similar plugins available for WordPress, but if I had to choose one, I would go for W3 Total Cache.

A cache plugin creates a static version of your website and have it served instantly to your visitors. It also reduces the CPU usage and memory.

Note, if you are using a managed WordPress hosting such as WPEngine, you don’t need any cache plugin at all.

2. Optimize Images

Properly optimize the images, before uploading them to your site. Images that are uncompressed can massively slow down your site. Now you can either optimize the images manually using an windows application, or use a plugin like Smush.it, which is what I use on most of my WordPress sites.

Alternatively you can also use Shrink-o-Matic, which allows you to compress the images before uploading them to the server.

3. Don’t use a Free or Bloated Theme

Believe it or not, but using a free or illegal theme can slow down your site. To be more precise, most of the free themes don’t follow WordPress standards, and have hidden links included in sidebar or footer, to build backlinks.

There are also a great number of premium themes available on marketplaces such as ThemeForest or Mojo-Themes, that don’t follow the WordPress theme review guidelines.

So it’s always better to go with a reputable brand such as StudioPress, ThemeFuse, ThemesKingdom, etc.

4. Limit the Use of Plugins

Limit the number of plugins you use on your website. There are currently around 28,000 plugins available in the WordPress directory, but only 10 or probably 20 plugins are essential for your website.

Roman has a great post on the most essential plugins for WordPress bloggers.

Note: Always keep the plugins updated, and remove the ones that you don’t use.

5. Minify the JavaScript and CSS

Minifying the JavaScript and CSS, can have a small impact on your website loading speed.

What it does is remove the unnecessary characters from the files, thus reducing the time it takes to download it.

You can easily minify the files using an online minifier for CSS and JavaScript. Alternatively, you can also use a plugin such as W3 Total Cache, which will automatically minify your CSS and JavaScript files.

Once you enable the minify option, make sure to check if the compressed files didn’t cause any errors.

6. Use a CDN Network

All the big sites are making use of content delivery network, as it drastically improves the loading speed. Normally, all the files are stored in a single sever at a single location, but a CDN distributes your files to various datacenters all around the world., and lets visitors download them by serving the files on servers close to them.

I am personally using MaxCDN for most of my sites, mostly because they have very reasonable prices and quality support. It also integerates with most cache plugins including W3 Total Cache plugin.

7. Optimize Your Sidebar

Keep your sidebar clean and minimal.

An clean sidebar will not only help improve your site speed times, but will also improve the conversation rate. Things you can do include – removing extra or unnecessary widgets, reducing the number of image & text advertisements, and removing extra or fancy sharing widgets.

Over to You

After and before applying each of the techniques you should test your website loading speed with tools such as WebPageTest, Pingdom, and Thinkwithgoogle Website analyzer.

What are other ways you found to improve your blog’s loading speed? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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