The world is busy, and no one likes to be left waiting for anything, let alone a website to load! If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, the rate at which people will click away from more than doubles, so all that effort in marketing your business and getting more website traffic is wasted because of a slow loading page.
You may have read some blogs on speeding up your WordPress sites that jump right in at the deep end and surgest things like Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and cache systems, which are excellent suggestions. However, to be frank - those tools can't polish a turd! Your site needs to be optimised from the ground up for those tools to be effective. So what can you do to help speed up your WordPress website?
Website images have a significant impact on loading times. They need to be optimised before you put them on your website - not after! Plugins will help with the images already on your website; however, the best way is always to upload them in an optimised fashion.
You need to focus on these areas when optimising images for your WordPress website.
Website images are one of the biggest reasons your website will load slow. Not just file size but the actual dimensions of the image itself. Getting the right balance between quality and file size can be tricky! WordPress now supports WebP format, which is fantastic news. WebP format is one of the best formats you can use to upload images with a minimal file size without compromising quality. However, not all Safari users can see WebP images!
To avoid any website users not being able to see your images, we would suggest using PNG format until such time that WebP is more accessible to everyone. WordPress is talking about converting all images automatically to WebP if their browser supports it.
The best way to size your images is to use software such as Adobe Photoshop or Affinity Photo . You can export photos using these tools in the correct size and format, ready to be uploaded to your website.
Image sizes (rough guide):
Once you have your images in the suitable format and size, you can still optimise them even more, using a free to use online tool! TinyPNG is a free image compression tool widely used by web designers, bloggers, and website owners to further compress the images! Again - it can't polish a turd, but if you want to shrink the file size further, it can help.
Some plugins can compress images that are already on your website. Doing it this way is not ideal, but if you already have hundreds or thousands of on-site images and no time to reupload them, it can help to use them. The top 3 are:
WordPress plugins are fantastic and can offer additional functionality to your website with just a few clicks. The issue with this is that website owners often add lots of free plugins that they want to use one feature for, but the plugin can add lots of additional code and weight to your site.
A free plugin will rarely be fully optimised or just there to do one job, so they can end up adding bloat to the website and slowing them down. We have done lots of testing on demo and clients' websites, and reducing the number of bloated plugins in use has been shown to speed up the site by up to 25%! So it is worthwhile being cautious with your plugin choices!
Theme choice plays a big part in how your website will perform, and some of the biggest names in WP Themes are known for being bloated. Think about what you need from your WordPress theme, and then find a theme that offers the core functions you need. All those extras and fancy bits will add bloat and slow your site down. Some good options are Flatsome and GeneratePress or themes like Oxygen for the more advanced designers.
Keeping the WordPress core, WP plugins and themes up to date is a simple way to keep your website running smoother and quicker. WordPress is continually updating its core, and some of those updates include optimisations that help with website loading times. We would suggest getting into a habit of creating a schedule so that you update your themes and plugins at least twice a month.
No amount of image optimisation, code optimisation, or updates will matter if your website is hosted on cheap and crowded hosting. If you invest in decent hosting and optimise your website correctly, it will repay you with lightning-quick load times. Good WordPress hosting will nearly always come with inbuilt cache systems and CDNs for those websites that need that bit of extra oomph.
When it comes to speeding up your WordPress website, there is no magic bullet, no one thing you can do on its own that will speed it up. It is all about optimising your entire website to function as it should and quickly.
There can be many things that can cause your WordPress website to be slow, and the easiest way to find out is to run a website audit. Here at E2E, we offer website audits that cover everything from website loading times to what could be holding your website back in terms of SEO. If you want a comprehensive audit that is manually done on your website and ideas on how to fix it, get in touch with the team today!
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