Website Optimization & why it is important?
No matter how good your website is in terms of design and content, if your site takes an appreciable amount of time to load then it is sure for your site to have high bounce rates. Speed and performance has always been top priority on the web. Fast loading pages not only enhances user experience, increase your page views but also, help with your sites SEO as well. Yes SEO, with the recent trends google has been penalizing sites with higher load times. Considering its importance, below we have listed out 10 proven website optimization techniques which you can use to boost your WordPress website performance.
Website Optimization techniques
When it comes to website optimization, you might feel like it’s a difficult task and you need to have deep technical knowledge to do it. Having good technical knowledge on the web of course makes it easy. However, we have tried to simplify this job by listing down 10 simple tips which you can implement on your own with minimal tech skills to boost your websites performance.
Images are one of the most engaging content on the web and are one of the most common bandwidth hogs on the web as well. High quality bulky images contributes to the increase in size of the web pages which directly leads to increase in Page load times affecting website performance overall. Website optimization is incomplete without image optimization as a major portion of web pages these days includes images for better user experience.
Every single non optimized image contributes negatively to your website speed adding up a few milliseconds to your page load time.WP Incubator
Image optimization techniques:
- Scale appropriately
The first way to optimize your images is to scale them appropriately. Many webmasters use huge images and then scale them down with CSS. What they don’t realize is that your browser still loads them at the full image size. For example, if you have an image that is 1000 x 1000 pixels, but you have scaled it down to 100 x 100 pixels, your browser must load ten times more than necessary.
The second way to optimize your images is to compress them. There are several free online tools for image compression, such as tinypng.com, that can reduce your image sizes dramatically without losing quality. You can see size reductions anywhere from 25% to 80%!
- Format Selection:
Use proper image formats that offer better compression like JPG’s, WebP, etc. wherever possible.
Image optimization plugins
It’s always better to use the above provided image optimization techniques before uploading your images in WordPress. However, there are plugins which automatically do this job for you. Below we have listed a few plugins that help in image optimization automatically.
Lazy loading images
Term “lazy loading” means to load images only when the user scrolls to the very section where the image is placed or when the image enter the user’s viewport. By default, browsers load all the images in a page immediately which is unneeded and a waste of resources. While lazy loading ensures just in time load of images and appropriate use of resources.
There are several plugins available for lazy loading, some of which we have listed below:
- Best Practices:
When writing Css, scripts and Html make sure to follow standard best practices, remove any unwanted/unused code and leverage methods and techniques from latest development. This will of course ensure the code quality and make your code maintainable but also, helps in optimization.
- Reduce Http requests (Aggregate Css, Js and Html):
Many WordPress plugins and themes load scripts, stylesheets, and images from external resources like Google libraries, Facebook SDK, analytics services, and so on. Many of these servers are optimized to serve data quickly. It is OK to use them, as they act like a content distribution network and will serve the relevant file more quickly than your web server. However, If your site is making a lot of these requests, then this could slow down your website significantly. Try to reduce external HTTP requests by looking at the plugins and themes carefully.
Similarly, websites may contain multiple Css and Js files hosted internally. It’s always a best idea to combine them to have a single Css and Js file so as to reduce multiple requests to server.
- Code Minification:
Css, Js, Html when not minified can have an appreciable amount of size adding up to total size to download for rendering the page. Combined Css, Js and Html should be minified which reduces size leading to reduced network latency, faster browser downloading and execution and ultimately speed up your WordPress website load.
Seems like a lot of work huh! Nothing to worry though, there are lots of plugin available for free for the very purpose. Some of which I have listed below:
Limit Post Revisions
Post revisions take space in your WordPress database. They also affect database queries run by plugins which may not exclude revisions. You can limit the number of revisions WordPress should keep for each article. Simply add this line of code to your wp-config.php file.
// Disable revisions define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', false ); // Limit revisions define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 4 );
This code will limit WordPress to only save the last 4 revisions and discard older versions automatically.
Optimize WordPress Database
All of the website content in WordPress is stored in its database which includes blog posts, pages, comments, custom post types, etc. After using WordPress for a while and also, if you add/update content regularly in WordPress then your database might get crowded with lots of unnecessary contents which includes post revisions, comments in spam queue, unapproved comments, trashed items, unwanted data left by third-party plugins in “wp_options” table, etc. Bulky databases might be one of the reasons for slow queries and slow response time impacting overall website performance. So, database optimization is a must to improve website performance and should be performed once in a while to keep it at an optimal performance level.
There are several ways you can manually optimize your database and we will cover these in our upcoming post dedicated to it soon. Moreover, you can find lots of plugin that automatically does this job for you. We prefer WP Optimize plugin among others. With WP Optimize plugin, you will get a list of operations that can be performed on your database. You can review them thoroughly and run optimization for the ones you are sure of. Make sure you create a backup before running these optimizations for safety.
Don’t Upload Videos To WordPress:
Hosting videos on your server will cost you bandwidth. High quality videos consume more bandwidth. WordPress cannot optimize the quality of your videos or serve them properly to users with slow internet.
Hosting videos also increases your backup sizes tremendously, and makes it difficult for you to restore WordPress from backup.
You can easily embed videos in WordPress from video hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, etc. This not only saves you from trouble, it also improves user experience and speed up your WordPress websites load. You can also try lazy loading for embedded videos to rank high in your page speed scores.
WordPress websites are dynamic which means every time someone visits our website, pages are built on fly. Lot’s of work is being done when retrieving the page like getting requests from database, verifying if page/post exists, decide on template to be rendered, get information from database and then compile them together and finally display it to the user. This is somewhat time consuming and depending upon the complexity of websites and the code, it might take up an appreciable amount of resources on the server for every load. Condition worsens when we have multiple people visiting site at once increasing server load decreasing the website performance.
Caching can drastically decrease processing load on server by creating a copy of page after the first load and serving the cached version of page to every subsequent user for a certain amount of time. Caching plays an important role in website optimization improving website performance by an appreciable amount.
Lot’s of plugins are already available in the market for caching. Below you can find few popular ones:
A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers. The goal is to provide high availability and high performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.Wikipedia
Website speed can vary when visited from different locations in the world. Obviously, if you are nearer to the location from the server where the website is hosted lesser will be the network latency causing faster load. CDN provides a network of servers dispersed all around the globe hosting cached copies of websites. Visitors visiting the website for information will be served from the nearest available server within the network based on their geographic location for optimal speed. If you are targeting a global audience, want better and fast experience for your user then CDN might be something you may want to try for website optimization.
Remove inactive/unwanted plugins & themes
WordPress users are most likely to use plugins & themes for added functionality. Only plugins from the verified source as wordpress.org or any other genuine source should be used to make sure they follow all the rules and guideline for Plugin development and well tested in terms of speed and performance. Also, you might install a large number of plugins for adding features to your site and forget to uninstall when that plugin is of no use. Unused plugins not only use your server space, increasing your backup size, they can also slow down your website and increase vulnerability. So, make sure you remove those unwanted plugins to improve your website performance and also, use plugins only if necessary.
WordPress 5.2 comes with the Site Health Check tools which checks for security and performance issues for a site and provides a list of recommendations to improve, which includes removing inactive plugins and themes on top. More on Site Health Check tool and it’s recent updates here.
Keep Your Site Updated
As a site owner, it’s your responsibility to keep WordPress site up to date. So, make sure to update WordPress core, themes and plugins regularly. All updates might not directly impact website optimization but might include security fixes, offer new features, bug fixes related to speed and performance.
Switch to Managed Hosting
The hosting provider you choose will have a major impact on websites speed. Managed hosting providers provide you with the optimal solution for your website. They have their system designed considering website optimization at its core. Managed hosting providers take most of the burden for website optimization on their end such as caching, CDN, regular updates, database optimization, performance optimization, content optimization, php upgrades, etc. Most of them also provide staging environments for devs to test updates before making changes on live. They are best when it comes to speed, scalability and security.
You can find many managed hosting providers for WordPress in the market. Best ones as we find are listed below:
Website optimization in itself is quite a vague topic. We have tried to cover most of the important points which you can implement on your WordPress to boost your website performance. Speed up your WordPress website using the above 12 website optimization tips that we have listed and share with us your experience. If there are any confusion or questions related to it, please let me know in the comments below.