Tips for Optimizing WordPress for Speed

Need to speed up your site? Here are some simple ways to improve its performance!

Your website’s performance is one of the most important parts of the user-experience. If it is slow, then it can have some very real consequences. For instance:

  • A 1-second delay can mean a 7% loss in conversions
  • A 5-second delay can mean 80% site abandonment

Whether you are selling something or not, your slow site means people aren’t going to stay long. Think about it from your own perspective – do you stay on a site that takes forever to load? I know that I don’t.

So how do you optimize your site? There are a few areas that you can focus on that can make a real difference on the performance of your site.

  • Good Hosting
  • Optimize the Page Size (through images and requests)
  • Remove Bad / Redundant Plugins
  • Limit the Number of External Scripts
  • Make Changes to the Database

Some of these are pretty simple to address (such as cleaning up plugins), while others may require a developer to help with some custom code. If you are still not sure where to start then the video above outlines four areas that you can focus on to make an immediate impact on  your site’s load time. Specifically:

  1. Installing a Caching Plugin
  2. Installing an Image Optimization Plugin
  3. Using a CDN
  4. Installing a Database Optimization Plugin

Wait, won’t installing plugins decrease performance?

This is a question that people often have when it comes to WordPress in general. There is a perception that the more plugins you have, the worse your site performance. This is only partially true. The reality is that the more bad plugins you have, the more likely it is to negatively impact your site.

In other words, the number alone doesn’t matter. By way of example, this site has 44 active plugins and it is pretty snappy. I have seen sites with far less plugins with significant performance issues. The important thing is to keep vigilant about the types of plugins you’re adding and how you are maintaining them. Some tips:

  • If you install a plugin and aren’t going to use it, don’t just deactivate it. Delete it as well.
  • Run plugin updates in a timely manner.
  • Check to see if the plugins you are using get updated. If it has been 10 months, then find an alternative.

If all of this seems like a hassle then you can always hire a service that can manage this process for you. Using a company like WPSiteCare will allow you to focus on other things while they maintain your site.

Out of all these tips, which one is the most important?

I am tempted to answer this question by saying “all of them” but that’s not very helpful. 🙂

While you should never do just one thing and expect amazing results, the one decision you can make that will have the most significant impact on your site is the hosting provider that you choose.

There are many good hosts out there, and also many terrible ones. The good news is that you’re not locked into your current provider, especially if you are paying monthly. If you happen to be on a not-so-ideal host then most of the good ones out there will transfer your site to their servers for free.

Site optimization is a very hot topic. The advice is as broad as it is deep so it is quite easy to feel overwhelmed. I would recommend starting with the simple recommendations mentioned in this article and in the video. If you still are experiencing issues then it might make sense to bring in a service (like WPSiteCare) or inquire with a community of people who have walked this path before and can give you some experience-based advice.

Most of all remember that a site’s poor performance is just a temporary issue. Don’t stress too much. It can be fixed!

Author

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the article. I’ve always used caching plugins in the past for websites with mainly static content but do I have to worry about the learndash parts of my website being out of date due to old content being served?
    My understanding is that caching pre-builds your webpages so you don’t have that added delay when a user requests to view a page. Do you need to add exceptions for course or lesson pages or will that content be kept up to date? I realize there are many plugins that handle caching but assume I’m talking about the most popular ones (W3 Total cache and WP SuperCache)

    Since I’m with an excellent host, I find my site performs quite well without caching but I have seen dramatic improvements on other sites simply from implementing a caching plugin.

    1. I have the same question as Brad, I am using WP Rocket but still have issues from time to time especially with the Course Grid now showing “enrolled” instead of the price after a student buys a course. Any advice?

      1. I am also having issues with LearnDash and WP Rocket, do yous have any advice for the best set up for them both? Thank you.

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