NOTE: before making any large changes to your website – such as adding plugins, updating your WordPress or theme version, or clearing your database – you should always create a BACKUP!
A common complaint you may hear from users is that your site loads too slowly. While this can often be the fault of a network hiccup or a poor connection on the user’s end, your website itself may be contributing to the problem.
Large files, messy code, and shoddy hosting are three of the most common culprits.
So how do I speed my site up?
Here is a quick list of steps you can take right now to speed up your WordPress website:
Themes like Enfold include performance enhancing options like CSS and JS merging natively, but you can also install a Minify CSS and JS plugin to do the same thing.
Minification is a computing term that basically means removing superfluous characters, those that aren’t needed to execute the written code. Minification works by analyzing and rewriting the code. This reduces the overall size of the files and, by extension, the size of the website itself, so it can load faster in the user’s browser.
– Qode Magazine
2. Install and activate Jetpack services
Jetpack is the gold-standard in multi-purpose WordPress plugins. With the free version alone, you get in-depth site usage analytics, security essentials, SEO tools, and more. But for our purposes, we’re interested in what it can do to speed your site up:
Install Jetpack and activate Site Accelerator tools and watch your page load times decrease — they will optimize your images and serve them from their own powerful global network, and speed up your mobile site to reduce bandwidth usage (and save money!). Connect Jetpack to take advantage of:
Elasticsearch-powered related content and site search, for relevant results with no drain on your servers.
A caching plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress pages. After a html file is generated, your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts. Do not use more than one caching plugin, as this can cause unexpected conflicts and errors.
If you want to kill two birds with one stone (and you have a budget for web services) you can migrate your website to WP Engine’s managed hosting. This premium service includes caching and security, as well as high-quality dedicated servers to host and serve your webpages.
While Jetpack does good with your images on its own, you can only go so far without decent compression. An image optimizer plugin will procedurally shrink and compress the images on your website. This way, they will take up significantly less space on your servers and load into the user’s browser much more quickly, with only a small drop in image quality (JPEG artifacts may be introduced)
Optimus is a good free option for bulk optimization with an optional premium version, but there are a great deal of well-reviewed and trusted image optimization plugins to choose from. Research which plugin will work best for you, or try a few different options for yourself!
Clear your Datatables: Plugins which generate site statistics for you can rapidly create large amounts of data — every visitor causes something to be written to the database. Ordinarily, this is not a problem, but if your database size is limited by your host it could be.
Delete Page Revisions: Whenever you make changes or updates to a page or post on your site, a revision is created. Revisions are a great way to undo changes in WordPress post, and they don’t take up a lot of space. However, over time, revisions do start to add up and can eventually take up a considerable amount of space on your database.