Users hate slow websites, and they’ll bounce back off one without hesitation. When it comes to website speed, seconds matter — studies show that 47% of users will leave a website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load. That’s almost half of your customers! Additionally, slow websites are now being ranked lower by Google.
But don’t worry, here are 5 easy techniques to speed up your website. You won’t have to hire expensive web development services to implement these, and you’ll hopefully leave this article with a faster website!
1. Compress images
Images comprise of almost 48% of a webpage’s weight. Therefore, the larger your photos are, the slower your website loads. To get around this, you should compress the size of your images as much as possible without losing quality — you’ll have to experiment and find the right balance.
Before you compress your images, make sure you’ve chosen the right format. For colorful photos, you should select JPEG, while PNG is recommended for simple images because it has a larger file size.
We recommend using lossy compression, which reduces the file size to a far greater degree than lossless compression. You shouldn’t worry about the quality because, in most cases, you can compress your image considerably before losing quality. Although you could use Photoshop or hire costly web development services to compress images, make your life easier by using plugins like Smush, Optimole, or ShortPixel. All these plugins cover both lossy and lossless compression and, more importantly, compress images on their servers, which reduces the load on your end.
2. Deploy a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If visitors to your website are located physically far away from your host server, your website will load slower on their devices. CDNs are a worldwide network of servers that keeps copies of your website and delivers them to users from the closest physical location possible. This improves the loading time of your website dramatically.
The type of CDN recommended is called a reverse proxy CDN. Cloudflare is an example. A reverse proxy CDN acts as an intermediary server between your users and your host. Essentially, all requests to your website are directed through the CDN.
A reverse proxy CDN has two benefits.
One, it speeds up your website. And two, it can filter out and block bad traffic from hitting your website as all traffic has to go through it. Getting rid of bad traffic means your website loads faster for legitimate users, and that your website has lower chances of undergoing a DDoS attack, where a hacker takes down your website by simply overwhelming it with bad traffic.
3. Implement media offloading
If your website has a large number of media files, offloading them could improve its speed. Offloading means moving media files from your host server to another location. Now every time a user visits your website, requests for those media files will not be generated towards your host but instead towards the server you’ve offloaded your media files to. This will not only speed up your website, but it will also save you disk space.
If you’re wondering how this is different from a CDN, a CDN keeps copies of your website on its servers. Once those copies expire, it will have to request the latest files again from your host, which is where your files are physically located. When you offload media, you physically relocate your original files to another server.
One of the most popular offloading options is Amazon S3. Large companies like Netflix and Airbnb use Amazon S3 to offload their media; therefore, you can expect it to be very reliable. Also, because Amazon has a vast infrastructure, you can expect the pricing to be lower. You also get up to 5 GB of storage free for the first year. Because all requests for your media will be sent to Amazon’s server, your website will load faster.
4. Use the right web development services
The web development services you employ can make or break your website. So make sure you choose a company that works with a light WordPress theme. Many companies that provide web development services will make extensive use of shiny elements to make the website more appealing to the eye. But remember, this will increase your page size and certainly decrease the speed with which it loads. Your website should only contain the elements you need. Default WordPress themes are generally light and can improve the speed of your website.
Another aspect of using the right web development services is to avoid shared hosting like the plague. Although shared hosting is cheap, you can forget about a blazing website if you use one. Shared hosting companies tend to overcrowd their servers to maximize profit. Overcrowded servers mean slower loading times. Instead, try getting a managed WordPress hosting, which some users call the “5-star hotel for WordPress”. Although managed WordPress hosting is more expensive than shared hosting, you can almost guarantee improved loading speeds because it is the WordPress experts that manage your website. One of the most popular managed WordPress hosting providers is WP Engine.
Remember, you don’t want to compromise on web development services. Don’t be stingy, and get the best possible web development services you can.
5. Cache your website!
Every time a user visits your website, a request is sent to your host server, which processes it (including retrieving data from the database), and sends the requested web page with all its elements to the user’s browser. All this processing takes time, which is why your webpage can take some time to load.
To get around this, you can cache your website. Caching essentially tells the server to store certain repeatedly visited webpages on the RAM or the disk and serve them quickly the next time they are requested. This reduces the workload on the host server and reduces the page loading time.
Caching at the server-level is the best option for those who are not tech-savvy. It means your host provider company does it all for you — you only have to focus on running your business. But if your hosting company doesn’t offer caching services, you can use plugins like WP Rocket and Cache Enabler to help you out. If you’re using a managed WordPress hosting service, your company will probably offer to cache your website, so make sure you inquire about it.
And that’s about it. There are many more ideas to speed up a WordPress website, but they tend to get more complex. If you’re not experienced enough with WordPress, these 5 techniques are an excellent place to start. And just because they’re easy doesn’t mean they’re ineffective — try them, and you’ll soon notice the difference.