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Importance of Website Load Time: 52 Ways To Increase Speed
This article focuses on speeding up a WordPress website, but other factors of website speed not related to WordPress can be incorporated.
It is very true that no one likes a slow website and if you are noticing the issues of a slow website, so are your visitors, and they are leaving because of it. Website speed is as important as waiting for a first cup of coffee in the morning and most people are impatient and want it yesterday. There may be a day where websites are instantaneous, where there is no waiting for requests to and from a server, and websites, photos, and videos will be served up in mere seconds.
We have come a long way when it comes to Internet speed. If you can remember what or imagine what a 14k modem was like, think about walking to a store that is a mile away, but your foot really hurts. The 56k modem speed soon came out, and that was a regular walk to the store. Then the DSL modem came out several years later, and that was a nice run through the Internet. Cable has undergone some upgrades over the years, going from a nice bicycle ride to a car ride. There are still plenty of countries that have “slow cable” and when visiting those countries, you can certainly tell the difference between old Internet and modern Internet.
Downloads of photos would take minutes and a 3 or 4 minute video could take up to 30 or 45 minutes to download. The very thought of YouTube was hardly comprehensible. If we still ran on slow Internet, the very popular social media websites, with the exception of LinkedIn, which is more text-savy than relying on multimedia, would be the only website that would be quick enough to meet our expectations in speed.
The Internet has come a long way in short period of time, yet human anticipation is eager, and patience is short, as we expect things to be done in seconds, rather than minutes. Website speed comes from the very Internet Service Provider the visitor is on, to the server of an external company serving the ISP in order to deliver the files you are after viewing. In order to keep up with human impatience, web hosts, web companies, web developer, and web masters have all had to ensure the website loads up in seconds in order to appease to an audience and hold their attention. Websites that monitor speed have come to exist such as Pingdom, GTmetrix, YSlow, and Google PageSpeed and help determine how fast or slow a website is, so website speed optimization techniques can be used from the data collected from the results.
A one to three second loading time has become the normal average for how long a person will be patient with a website. After four seconds, the opportunity to leave becomes a thought in a person’s mind, with studies being done by Google and other websites to determine how long a person will wait.
A slow website usually represents that something is wrong with the website or the server it resides on, and broken things often lead humans to back away, turn the other way, and go elsewhere for something that works. It can be a full-time job to make sure a website is running at optimal speeds, especially if a website is popular and is receiving hundreds of thousands to millions of visitors a day.
Here are just several methods you can apply to fix a slow website:
- Check with your web host to make sure it is not their end.
- If you are on Shared Hosting, update to a VPN or Cloud service such as Vultr or Managed Hosting, such as WP Bubble.
- Check for and fix broken links to webpages and calls to all scripts your website uses.
- Download a cache plugin such as WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, Quick Cache, or Hyper Cache Extended.
- Cache Your Database.
- Cache Your Widgets. Before you cache your widgets, determine what purpose each widget serves for the visitors on your website, and if you cannot think of a good reason to keep displaying the widget, get rid of the widget.
- Disable and delete plugins that consume extra unnecessary resources, specifically plugins that save large log queries to the database.
- Delete unused themes.
- Only show excerpts on your Homepage and no more than 10 posts at a time.
- Replace standard WordPress code that make queries to the database in the main PHP files to hard coded values (Appearance Editor).
- Pick a Lite theme that is not code-heavy.
- Write in CSS Shorthand.
- Combine all CSS into one file.
- Remove all Social Media feeds, API, and scripts.
- Reduce unnecessary external calls to outside websites.
- Consider replacing image ads with textual ads.
- Add this line to your header.php just after </body>:<?php flush(); ?>
- Optimize and rescale your images by cropping them to no more than 500px in width and using WP-Smush It, Image Optimizer, or Pixlr instead of relying on HTML or CSS code to resize them.
- Enabled the Jetpack plugin’s Photon feature.
- Disable the Jetpack modules that are not being used.
- The plugin Vihv Speed Up may speed up your site by creating additional database indexes.
- Enable Google Pagespeed (ignore if you are using CloudFlare).
- Sign up for CloudFlare or Incapsula (ignore if you are using Google Pagespeed).
- Optimize your WordPress database.
- Limit the amount of Revisions WordPress stores.
- Delete unnecessary Trash, Spam, and Comments.
- In your WordPress admin panel, navigate to Settings Discussion and 1) uncheck Show Avatars AND/OR 2) uncheck View people’s profiles when you mouse over their Gravatars AND/OR 3) check Blank.
- Sprite your images or consider incorporating FontAwesome to replace common social media and other icons, especially if you are using images.
- Lazy Load your images.
- Keep WordPress and all plugins up to date.
- Use HTTP Keep-Alive.
- Change your Domain Name Server settings to Google Public DNS or check out this list of Free Public DNS
- Enable HTTP Compression via htaccess
- Increase WordPress Speed via htaccess techniques
- Use SmallPDF to compress your PDF files without losing much quality
- Use Varnish Cache (provided by DreamHost and some other web hosts)
- Use CSS and Div tags instead of Tables
- Use Text instead of Images whenever possible
- Load images through CSS instead of the IMG tag
- Use Contextual Selectors instead of Individual Selectors
- Instead of assigning a class to individual elements, wrap the elements in a div tag and call the class.
- Add a / to the end of URLs to let the server know instantly the link is pointing to a directory (including WordPress dynamic pages)
- Use a CDN such as DreamSpeed CDN, MaxCDN, jsDelivr, Amazon CloudFront, or Google Drive
- Use the relative links to navigate to page within your own site, rather than using an absolute link
- Example: href=”/home/” instead of href=”http://www.mysite.com/home/”
- If your web host allows it, switch to HHVM or install and use PHP 7.
- Upgrade to a higher plan on your Shared hosting (if available), or upgrade to a VPS, or a computer server