You've probably heard or read somewhere that the averag attention span of humans is getting really short (around 7 seconds if we have to be accurate) and that's pretty much because of the information age that we all live in. Daily, every consumer is going through hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of content – blog posts, videos, newsletters, ads and this, of course, makes him really careful and selective about where he places his focus.
As a consequence, a large number of today's business owners are wondering how to get people's attention in order to drive them to their websites. The real question, though, is this: how do you keep them there? We can say that the digital world is rather overcrowded, so for your website to stand out, you have to offer the best possible experience. This means user-friendly graphics, good-quality content and of course, a fantastic performance of the site!
You've probably guessed what we are going to talk about from the title of the article. The performance and speed of your website are crucial for its success.
Today's consumers aren't wasting any time waiting for a website to load more than a few seconds: that is why most tools for website speed check are set on 3 seconds.
So in the next few paragraphs, we're going to discuss: Why is it so crucial for your WordPress website to load faster? What makes it slow down? What factors can affect speed? What can you do to enhance the performance of your website?
Why should your WordPress site be fast?
We've already said it, but numerous studies have shown during the years that the average human attention span is around 7 seconds. 7 seconds. Period. That's how much time you are given to capture your visitor's attention.
Unfortunately, in 2019, creating and publishing high-quality content isn't enough for your website/business to succeed. The truth is that if your website is slow, your potential customers might leave before it even loads.
What do you do then? You should try to be optimal in both essential aspects. Offer the best content and try your best to make your website load in less than 3-4 seconds!
Another great reason why you should focus on enhancing your website's speed is that Google and other search engines penalize slower sites. If the site is slow and users leave it before it loads Google knows that (it's called Bounce rate) and it considers it sort of a "downvote" so it pushes the website down in the search results.
What might slow down your WordPress site?
You can get most of the answers to this question from the speed test reports. Furthermore, they will have numerous recommendations for improvements that most definitely will have a significant impact on your website.
However, if you are a beginner, it might get a little tricky to understand all that technical jargon which is included in those type of reports, and you could decide that it isn't worth the time to grasp the idea behind all the technical terms only to make your weabsite 0.5 seconds faster.
Well, it might seem like an insignificant change to you, but we can assure you that even the smallest speed improvement will have an impact on your website performance, Google ranking, and traffic.
Learning and understanding what slows down your website is the key to making the right steps in the right direction in order to improve your website's performance.
We know that you might get a little bit overwhelmed with all the information that the speed test reports provide and that's why we've listed the most common reasons which slow your WordPress site down:
Web Hosting – If your web hosting server isn't properly configured, it can hurt your website's speed. A vast majority of the website owners, when they first start, prefer to spend less on web hosting services because they have other "more important" expenses. We know how hard it is to start something on your own and what it means to work on a budget. However, while it might seem like a great idea to use a cheap hosting service at the beginning, that could cause you many problems and cost you extra money in the long run!
Number of Plugins Installed – Some experts claim that the number of plugins installed on your WordPress site could affect its speed. However, that might not be the truth! You could install as many plugins as you need, but don't overdo it. In fact, it isn't the number of plugins as much as their quality. If you are using poorly coded plugins, we can tell you that will slow down your site for sure. We can recommend you to run a speed test before you install a new plugin and after you've done it. In this way, you will know what affect it has over your website.
Page Size – The size of your pages it depends mainly on the images on them. You should optimize them for the web! Caching Tools – Using caching tools is one of the best ways to prevent your website from slowing down and making it even faster!
How to improve your website's speed?
You can start by running a speed test on your website regularly. You can do it using Google's tool – PageSpeed Insights. Have in mind that everything under 2 seconds is a perfect score!
Understanding the reason behind a problem is the first step to solve it! You already know the main reasons that might cause your website to slow down, and now we can proceed with specific steps to solve these problems.
Choosing a Good Hosting Provider We've stated many times in other articles of ours that the web hosting service is the foundation of any site. You cannot build your website on a poor foundation and to expect not to collapse
Your web hosting service plays a vital role in your website performance, and the best hosting providers take extra measures to optimize it for performance. However, have in mind, that if you decide to use a shared hosting service, you share your server resources with other customers.
This means that if your neighbor site gets a lot of traffic, then it can impact the performance of the entire server and in turn, your website speed.
Another option is to use WordPress hosting, which is a service that can offer you an optimized server configuration to run your WordPress website. Actually, all of our WordPress customers can take advantage of our WordPress Manager tool, which we have integrated into our plans. It includes ten different tools that allow them to manage their installations professionally with a single click!
You might already know it, but WordPress press pages are "dynamic" – it means they are built every time someone visits a page or a post on your website. The entire process of building a WordPress page includes collecting information, putting all together, and displaying it to your visitors. It takes time and resources, and most definitely it will slow down your website when multiple people are visiting at the same time.
That's why it's so important to use a caching plugin: multiple sources and experts claim that caching can make your website from 2x to 5x times faster!
There are a lot of caching plugins out there, but we can recommend you to install:
For all of our HostPulse customers, we have integrated the WordPress Optimization tool, which allows them to activate different caching plugins like ActiveCache, W3 Total Cache, PageSpeed, and Site Speed-Up.
Optimize Your Images
You've probably heard that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Images are the perfect way to make your content more interesting and boost engagement rates. Actually, different surveys have shown that adding an image to your content make people 80% more likely to read it.
Unfortunately, sometimes, images could be hurting your website more than help it if they are not properly optimized. In fact, they are one of the most common reasons for websites to load slower.
What we can suggest is to use editing software to optimize your images before uploading them to your website. The truth is that most of the high-quality images can have huge file sizes which will make your website slower if you upload them uncompressed. However, bear in mind that compressing images will lower their quality.
You can use JPEG, which is a compressed file format that will slightly reduce the quality of the image after compression. Furthermore, it's smaller in size, which is perfect for your website speed. If you want to upload uncompressed file formats like PNG which offer the highest quality, you have to know that these formats are with the much larger file size so it will take them longer to load!
Up-to-date WordPress version
As an open-source project, WordPress is frequently updated. In our WordPress Security Guide, we have mentioned how important it is to keep your WordPress site updated for security reasons. Well, the latest updates offer more than just solutions for security breaches, they will keep your website fresh and fast.
Let's not forget that you have to keep your themes and plugins updated as well. They play a significant role in every WordPress site, and they could affect the performance of it as much as the core version of your WordPress.
As an owner of your website, keeping it updated is your responsibility. Some hosting providers have developed tools to facilitate this process - for example, we have a feature called WordPress Update. This tool will update the core version of your WordPress as well as the version of your themes and plugins automatically, so you won't have to worry about keeping an eye on it. Uploading audio/video files
Audio and Video files like images offer a great way to engage with your customers. In fact, video content is one of the most preferred types of content by today's online consumers. However, you should never upload an audio or video file directly to your WordPress site.
Firstly, that will cost you bandwidth. Secondly, hosting large media files will increase your backup size, which will make restoring your WordPress site from it harder. Instead, WordPress has a built-in embed feature which allows you to add video and audio files from platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc. Everything you have to do is to copy and paste the URL address directly into your post, and it will embed automatically. Easy as that!
Use Well-Coded Themes and Plugins
Try to select well-coded themes and plugins; otherwise, you risk to make your website slower. Now the question is how to find out which theme/plugin is well-coded? Well, simply run speed tests before and after installing a certain theme or plugin on your website.
As far as the themes are concerned, we recommend you to use more simple ones. We know that the ones with a complex layout, flashy animations, and sophisticated features are attractive, but they might be poorly coded. In fact, you can add everything you want by installing a high-quality WordPress plugin.
There are plenty of high-quality themes that are optimized for speed. If you want to use a premium theme, you could always choose one from the top WordPress theme shops like Themify, Elegant Themes, CSSIgniter, or StudioPress.
You can also try to use a plugin that can do many of these things for you - here is an example of such plugin (very user-friendly and easy to setup)
Reminder: Don't forget to backup your website before installing a new theme! The same is relevant and for the plugins. There a lot of them in WordPress' database but you have to be very selective when choosing the right ones for your site. At first, you could feel like a kid in a candy store (we've all been there), but don't forget that if you try all the candies, you might get sick.
To make your life easier, we've made a list of the best 60 WordPress plugins and separated them into different categories: 60 WORDPRESS PLUGINS TO INSTALL IN 2019
To sum all up, the load time of your website is essential for your user experience, Google ranking, and your business success. Try the techniques that we've described in the article, and we can guarantee you that you will be surprised by what colossal impact they will have on your site's performance. Don't forget to run a speed test before and after implementing the techniques so you could know what works for you and what doesn't