WordPress is a hugely popular platform for modern websites. In fact, in the middle of 2013, VentureBeat estimated that 19% of the Web now runs on WordPress – an amazing statistic.
We’re not immune to the charms of WordPress here at Make a Website either. We lay out a number of reasons why we think it’s the best choice for most modern websites in this article.
If you use WordPress for any of your websites, you should do all you can to ensure that performance is at its very best. WordPress is not an inherently sluggish platform – in fact, it usually performs very well. However, by the time you’ve uploaded loads of content and piled on the plugins, speed can begin to suffer.
Improving performance isn’t only for the benefit of users either. Although Google (and other search engines) refrain from sharing details of their algorithms, indications are that page performance does come into play when it comes to search engine rankings. It’s therefore simple common sense to take some steps to speed up your WordPress site.
In this article, we make five simple suggestions to help you do so:
1. Choose the right Web hosting
Not every Web hosting firm is equal, and if you choose the wrong one you could end up on a shared server with terrible performance.
If you want the real gold-standard in WordPress performance, we would strongly suggest you look at WP Engine. WP Engine is a managed hosting service tailored completely for WordPress users. If you’re serious about your WordPress website and want consistently great performance, WP Engine is the only way to go.
Of course, WP Engine is a little more expensive than a standard shared hosting package, but quality always costs.
If your site is still in its early stages, you could do a lot worse than HostGator, a hosting platform we recommend in many of our “how to” articles.
Above all, don’t risk the reputation of your site by sticking with an inferior hosting company – it’s a false economy if you want your site to go places.
2. Trim down your plugins
The vast array of plugins available for WordPress is one of the reasons it’s such a popular CMS platform, but if you’re not careful you can get carried away and end up with dozens of them installed, each slowing your site down a little.
A good starting point is to look though your list of active plugins and see if any are live that you do not (or no longer) need.
When you need a new plugin (for whatever reason), make sure you do some research and read some reviews. If you find people have complained that its use has had a detrimental effect on their site performance, look elsewhere for another plugin that achieves the same thing.
3. Use a caching plugin
If you don’t use a caching plugin on your WordPress site, all the data needed to construct each page is loaded fresh from your Web space every time. Caching plugins optimise the frequently used data to provide those visiting your site with a quicker user experience.
Here are links to three widely-used and well-regarded caching plugins:
4. Optimise your images
If you really want to slow down your WordPress website, simply upload lots of images at an unnecessarily high resolution!
Of course, you don’t want to slow down your site. So you must always ensure that the images you upload are appropriately optimised for Web use.
The photos produced by modern smartphones are typically of a sufficiently high quality to print A4 (or larger) prints with no quality loss. You simply don’t need images of this quality for a website.
All photo editing software (including popular applications such as PhotoShop and Google Picasa) will help you optimise images for the Web. There are also various small standalone apps to help you. Whatever you use, just keep an eye on the size of the files you upload – they very rarely need to be more than 1MB in size.
5. Choose a good theme
Not all WordPress themes are built to an equal standard of quality, and as the theme you choose is at the very heart of your site, selecting the wrong one can have a really detrimental effect on performance.
One way to make sure you choose a good theme is to look at the ratings other people have given it. Look at reviews and see what other people have had to say. If anything alerts you to potential performance problems, move on to a different theme.
Here are a couple of ThemeForest themes that enjoy a particularly good reputation:
1. Venda - A lovely clean theme with some very positive user reviews.
2. Santiago – A responsive, magazine-style theme with solid 5-star ratings.