WordPress:6 techniques to boost your loading speed

1. Measure the current performance of your WordPress site

Before we even talk about techniques to improve the speed of a WordPress site, here are some tools that will allow you to calculate your site’s loading time and take an inventory. There are many online tools to measure the speed of your site: YSlow, GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools, Web Page Analyzer, Load Impact, Octa Gate SiteTimer, WebPage Test, and Yota. It is advisable to use several measurement tools for your tests and not to limit yourself to just one. This allows for cross-checking and more reliable results.

Google’s performance testing service, PageSpeed Insights, is one of the leading tools. This service provides an “objective” evaluation of your site’s loading speed on mobile and desktop. The performance of a site often varies depending on the terminals used, the location of the servers, etc. Another advantage of PageSpeed Insights is that the service gives you personalized advice, in order of priority, to correct the defects identified during the test (concerning the weight of your images, the management of JS and CSS files, caching, etc.).

2. Remove unnecessary extensions (or plugins)

Let’s move on to the techniques to optimize the speed of your site, first of all, extensions. WordPress is known for offering hundreds, if not thousands, of extensions. This is what makes this CMS so widely used and exciting. As a result, there is an instinctive tendency to want to install as many plugins as possible to increase the functionality of your WordPress site. This is a severe mistake. What matters is the quality of the extensions used, not the quantity. This is true for all CMS, but especially for WordPress, which has a massive community of developers who are not always very experienced (or instead: who do not always look at the weight of their extensions). The ideal is to use as few extensions as possible and avoid extensions with the quality you are not sure of. Remove all extensions that are duplicates. It is not uncommon to want to test several almost identical extensions to make your choice. That’s fine, but delete all the others once you’ve chosen the right one for you. Also, for plugins with equivalent or very similar functionality, find out which one is the least resource-intensive.

Note: If you prefer, you can disable unused extensions. But ideally, it is better to remove them. If you don’t use specific extensions at all, why keep them? At the very least, deactivate the extensions you use regularly but occasionally. This is always better than leaving it active and will save you from having to reset it the next time you use them.

Take a regular inventory of all the plugins you’ve downloaded (whether enabled or disabled) and clean them up. This will prevent extensions from accumulating over time. Remove extensions that are not very useful, or at least provide more miniature than they affect the speed of your site. Last tip: try to use multi-functional extensions, like Yoast, which allows you to manage the SEO part of your site but also to create sitemaps.

How to determine the impact of your extensions on the loading speed of your WordPress site? Good question! The answer is simple: install the Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) extension, developed by Go Daddy. For now, this extension is worth the effort and is not a gimmick. Remember to remove the P3 extension after your diagnosis to be consistent with what was just said!

3. Choose a hosting package that meets your needs

The quality of the hosting affects the loading speed of your site. A site can be perfectly configured but be slow because the server it uses is not efficient. There are roughly three types of hosting:

 Shared hosting: You share resources on the same server with other customers of the host. This type of hosting, the least expensive, is only viable for sites with low traffic and low resource consumption (blogs or small business showcase sites). It is enough that the sites hosted on the shared server consume a lot of resources to slow down your site (the host can take time to reframe sites that consume too much). This is the eternal problem of roommates.

 Dedicated hosting: you rent a server from the host for yourself (it is dedicated to you: hence the name). Dedicated hosting is best suited for e-commerce sites or high-traffic blogs. This type of hosting allows you to manage the server’s administration, unlike shared hosting: a shared server is managed and configured by the host.

 Virtual hosting (VPS): halfway between shared and dedicated hosting. The principle consists in renting or buying a part of a dedicated server to make it a virtual server managed by you.

You must choose the hosting that best suits your needs. If you have an e-commerce site and are on a shared server, it will slow down your site. But on the other hand, it’s perfectly unnecessary to rent a dedicated server if you have a small blog. In the latter case, shared hosting is more than sufficient.

Note: Since we are talking about WordPress sites, it is essential to note that there are dedicated hosts optimized for WordPress sites, such as WP Engine. By far the most expensive option, hosting on a dedicated WP server is a solemn guarantee. In this particular case (WP Engine), your host will regularly inform you of your site’s performance and any extensions that may be slowing it down. By using WP Engine, you will also benefit from regular backups of your site.

Tip: Most speed measurement tools will give you information about your server’s response time. This is a good way to determine if your home is suitable or not if it needs to be changed or not. Another tip: choose SSD hosting. All things being equal, they are faster and not more expensive than the others.

4. Setting up a CDN

Using a CDN allows your visitors to load your site’s pages (images, hidden JavaScript, and CSS files) from a server located close to where they are connected. CDN allows, in other words, that your site’s content can be distributed from as many servers in the world as possible. It should be noted that the further away the server that sends the pages of a site to a user is from their point of connection, the slower the loading time.

A Portuguese user who loads the page from a site hosted on a Japanese server will have a longer loading time than if he was connecting from Tokyo. CDNs solve this purely geographical problem. On a more technical level, the CDN you use will send your page caches (your static content) to a network of servers worldwide. These will then be stored on a large number of servers. The user will only have to load dynamic, uncached content from your server.

We recommend using MaxCDN or Cloudflare. The latter CDN is free, easy to integrate into WordPress, and has an extensive network of servers (24 datacenters currently located on all continents except Africa). Another interesting point: Cloudflare does not cache HTML code, so your visitors will always have access to the latest versions of your text content. Caching is not always adapted to the rapid evolution of content (article updates, etc.).

Note: the use of a CDN is all the more interesting if a significant part of your traffic comes from abroad. If your visitors are 95% French or Belgian, the relevance of a CDN is not apparent (if your site is hosted in France). Moreover, another remark, the choice of the proper CDN depends mainly on the origin of your traffic. It would help if you chose the CDN with servers located in the geographical areas where your traffic comes from. Last but not least: using a CDN is complete but does not replace the use of a cache plugin.

5. Limit the number of revisions to your pages

The possibility offered by WordPress to access natively the different revisions made to your pages or articles is undoubtedly often advantageous. It allows you to undo specific changes, go back, compare different versions, etc. However, this possibility has disadvantages: all versions of your pages are kept. Every time you update one of your articles, for example, a new version is automatically generated (even if you only correct two or three spelling mistakes…). It is not unusual for a page to have more than ten versions.

Limiting the number of versions or removing this feature altogether is possible. To do this, you need to insert some code in the wp-config.php file of your WordPress site. If you don’t want WordPress to make any more backups of your previous page versions, you must disable the Post Revisions feature by inserting the following code:

define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false);

If you prefer to limit the number of versions saved (to 5 per page, for example), you should use this code:

define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 5);

To manage the revisions of your pages, you can also use the WP-Optimize plugin. This plugin offers many features to clean up your WordPress database (not only modifications).

6. Choose a lightweight WordPress theme

We could have addressed this point first. But if you are reading this article, you probably already have a website. The time for choosing a theme is already over for you. It is better to improve your site using the techniques suggested above before considering the possibility of changing your music (which can be a costly operation). This last point is for those who have not yet created their site or those who, after careful consideration, have decided to change the theme of their site.

The choice of a WordPress theme is based on aesthetic and ergonomic considerations. However, ergonomic, feature-rich, visually stunning themes are not always the lightest. Usually, it’s even the opposite (to put it mildly). However, the weight of an article should be taken into account when choosing. The heavier a piece is, the more it will tend to slow down the loading speed of your site, sometimes to a considerable extent. Here are some tips to help you choose your theme:

Choose a theme that offers only the features you need. Many features are gimmicks that only serve to make your site heavier. You need to make sure you use at least two-thirds of the features offered by the theme.

Choose a Responsive Design theme that allows your site to be displayed optimally on all devices, including mobile devices. Many sites are fast on computers but very slow on mobiles. This is becoming less and less acceptable for several reasons.

I don’t necessarily prefer paid themes to free themes. Paid articles even tend to be heavier on average than free themes. Keep in mind that this does not mean anything: paid themes are not necessarily better optimized in terms of weight.

Avoid themes that are too old; they are usually not or no longer optimized and contribute to slowing down the loading time.

Choose a theme compatible with the latest versions of web browsers. The most recent articles are compatible in this case. This advice is, therefore, consistent with the previous one.

Don’t choose a theme with too many HD images and animations in all directions. I prefer refined and minimalist music.

In general and to summarize, it is a thousand times better to choose a simple theme, even if it means making it more complex later to adapt it to your needs, than a natively heavy theme that will be more difficult to “lose weight.”

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