The FlashYou’ve got 2 seconds.

After that your visitor is more likely to make an exit and go elsewhere. Ouch.

People…. impatient?  Is it this stupid age of instant gratification? 

A more negative person would say ‘YES!’, but honestly, most decent websites will load in under 2 seconds. So you better make sure yours isn’t just bouncing people back to where they came from!

We live in the 21st century, flying cars and everything (according to movies made before the year 2000) so if you want to compete online with other websites – it’s time to speed things up!

So let’s check your website speed, then I’ll give you some tips on how to improve it!

Note: Some of the services I recommend below are affiliate links, but they are solid and I’d recommend them even if they weren’t affiliate links. The  majority of them are free though 🙂

How to check the loading time of your website

There’s a few websites you can do this with, but we’re going to use QuickSprout’s Speed test. Simply visit the website, type in your website’s URL into the text field and hit ‘search’.

Once the test has finished loading, you’ll be able to scroll down and see a window like this:

speed-test

As you can see the load time is mentioned along with the page size and number of server requests needed to load the page. The most important factor is the load time, which should be under 2 seconds.  If it’s not, you may want to decrease the size of the other two numbers.

Your goal is to work on your website until the speed is under 2 seconds, so here’s a list of things you can try…

Note: Before you start, I recommend backing up your website! 

Remove Social Media boxes and iFrames

I did this on one of my websites a while ago. I had a Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus box.  I removed them all from my sidebar and placed simple links to those profiles there instead.

social media boxes are bad, mmmkay

My social media growth wasn’t affected, but my page load time was dropped by 10 seconds, I did this and a few other things (as mentioned in my earlier post on this topic) and this was the one that made the biggest difference. Anything that loads a frame or window from another website is going to suck up load time in a big way. So try to keep it down to a minimum!

If you want fast loading share buttons and social media buttons, check out the following plugins, I use them on this website:

Check for Malware

Sometimes your website catches the flu and you don’t even know it!

Install a plugin called Anti-Malware and Brute-Force Security by ELI and eliminate Malware from your website.

Keep WordPress up to date

WordPress is always improving and updating so it can fix bugs and other problems.  Sometimes those problems involve slower loading times.

So if you see the little yellow bar telling you there’s a new WordPress version – upgrade!

Remove some of your plugins

Yeah, I just told you to install 3 plugins – so contradictory!

Well you start by installing this plugin – P3 Plugin Performance Profiler. So you can see which plugins affect your website speed the most.

Go to ‘Tools’ in your dashboard, and click ‘P3 Plugin Profiler’, then ‘Start Scan’.

Start Scan

You’ll then have to sit through some of this for a minute:

P3 Scanning

Eventually you’ll get your results:
P3 resultsYou can then pin point which plugins are sucking up the most resources and time and remove them or find replacements!

You’ll notice some of my recommended plugins are in the screenshot above, but my page load time is well under 2 seconds at this point in time 🙂

Choose a Faster WordPress Theme

Your WordPress theme may be slowing you down big time!

Your theme contains the layout information of your design and can be coded poorly if it’s not created by a reputable person or business.

When I upgraded to Thesis Theme I noticed a slight increase in speed, but I was already using a pretty decent theme. I highly recommend you choose a premium, first class theme however, as they are generally engineered for performance.

I wouldn’t recommend Thesis to a WordPress newbie, but if you want to customize your website and have some experience with CSS and Web Design, it’s first class – along with other customizable themes such as  Divi 2.0 – it’s light weight and highly customizable (I wrote a guide to it here)

If you’re a beginner, however, I’d recommend checking out some pre-designed themes like the package over at Elegant Themes or even check out our Tutorial for using Builder to customize your website.

Otherwise – try changing themes and doing the speed test, you can gauge the difference between a few of the free options through WordPress and figure out which ones are fast, and choose from there.

This is the good thing about ‘free’, it just takes a little time to try a few of these out – don’t sacrifice effective design for a fast theme though.  If the content isn’t delivered into your users lap, then a page that loads quickly will simply be delivering nothing at top speed!

Try to aim for both effective design and speed 🙂

Install a Caching Plugin

WordPress has available to it a free caching plugin called W3 Total Cache. This plugin will cache your website so that it loads faster for anyone who visits.

W3 Total Cache

It also has some other great features and can minify code so the overall size of your page is smaller.  If you need help setting this up, WPbeginner have a terrific tutorial here.

I highly recommend including this on on your WordPress website.

Use a Content Delivery Network

What the hell is that?

Well, when someone visits your website from another country, your server has to send images and files from half the world away.  A Content Delivery Network (or ‘CDN’)  will store your images and files on servers all over the world so they can be sent to the visitor over a shorter distance, speeding up download time.

Check out MaxCDN if this sounds good to you!

Optimize Your Images

Large, heavy images will destroy your loading time. You need to focus on 3 things when it comes to images:

  • Optimal Compression
  • Correct Resolution
  • Maintain image quality – minimize artifacts, etc.

Now you can simply install the plugin WP Smush.it which will compress images for you (it won’t adjust the resolution though) but it will add a little bit more loading time to your page (it is a plugin after all!). The best approach would be to optimize images before they’re saved.

If you use Photoshop, you can use an option called “Save for Web & Devices” (Click File -> “Save for Web & Devices”) and you’ll get a window like this:

Save for Web

(minus the cow and dolphin – whatever image you’re saving will be there instead)

As you can see above, the file size is displayed in the bottom left of the image preview, you can adjust the quality in the top right corner of the window and then scroll down to insert the exact pixel dimensions you want to make your image – which should match the size of the image once it’s been inserted into your page or post.

If you don’t use Photoshop, you can try an online service like TinyJPG to compress your images!

Optimize Your Database

WordPress is a database driven platform, so naturally a clogged up massive database is going to slow down performance.

First off all, (yes, another plugin lol), you can install the WP-Optimize Plugin to do this.  But you can also clean things up a bit too.  Try:

  • Removing inactive plugins – they may just sit there but they’re worth deleting as it’s still another wasted resource.
  • Delete Post Revisions – Whenever you save a post in WordPress, a revised copy is saved with old information, free up some space and optimize things by using ‘Better Delete revision‘ to remove old revisions – you can also uninstall this plugin once you’re done so it doesn’t add to the load over the long term.
  • Empty your Spam folder – Comments that are sent to Spam (or trash for that matter), still sit on your database.  So click that ‘Empty Spam Folder’ on the Spam Comments page.
  • Remove Inactive Users – There are bots out there that will sign up to your website and create a user account, make sure you delete any WordPress users that shouldn’t be there to free up your database.  The simply turn off the ‘Anyone can Register’ option in your WordPress settings (under ‘General’)

Lazy Load all of your images

Lazy Load allows your browser to only load images as they’re about to be viewed, which means the page your visitors view will appear to load quicker because what they see will load first, and everything else will load as they read.

It’s a simple yet effective way to decrease immediate download time for the user, all you need is yet another plugin! JQuery Image Lazy Load WP.

De-clutter your design

If you’ve got so much stuff crammed into your design, sidebar, footer or anywhere on your website, maybe you should go through and just remove the bits and pieces you don’t need.

You might think you need all of the images, links and sections because you want your visitors to check out everything you can offer all on one page – but the truth is they just want to read your content. Too many options will be daunting and they’ll get ignored anyway.

So focus on one or two main goals in your conversion and make that your priority, remove all of the other stuff because it is cluttering your website, making it look unprofessional and slowing it down!

Make everything as light weight as possible!

If you can write it in code, don’t use a plugin!

There’s a heap of plugins out there, but a lot of them add simple functionality which can be achieved by typing a little html/php code.

coding

I’m not great at coding personally but a lot of functions can be found in simple code which will remove the problem of having a plugin slow down your website!

This is perfect if you have email subscription boxes and other on page widgets that come as plugins but can be easily coded into your page.

Enable ‘Keep Alive’

What the hell is ‘Keep Alive’? Well it’s functional which keeps the server connection open and allows things to happen a bit faster.

This requires a little back-end work, you just have to locate the .htaccess file on your web server (by FTP or through your Hosting Control Panel).  And add this code into the file:

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header set Connection keep-alive
</IfModule>

That’s it!

Use WordPress Comments

Everyone is loving Disqus these days because it avoids a lot of spam and enables a sense of community.  But I personally found it slowed down my website! So I switched to WordPress comments.

If you’re still worried about spam, I have a post that helps tackle that here.

Turn off Track backs or Ping backs

Everytime someone links to your post from another WordPress website, you get a trackback/ping back which links to theirs.  This actually drains the performance of your website and has been shown slow things down a bit. So turn them off!

Just head to your WordPress dashboard, then to Settings -> Discussion.

Turn off Trackbacks

It’s the second item on the page so just untick!

Disable Hotlinking

When people ‘hotlink’ to your images it costs you a little bit of performance and the people viewing them bypass your website entirely.  That sucks, especially if your images are being accessed a lot!

You can install the Hotlink Protection plugin to take care of this if you want, or you can add a simple snippet of code to your .htaccess file:

disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?designwebidentity.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www.)?feeds.feedburner.com/DesignWebIdentity [NC]
RewriteRule .(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Just replace my domain name with yours and replace the location of my feed (second last line) with the address of yours!

Get started.

Try the above tips (well, maybe not every single one) until you get your page lading time below 2 seconds.  Then you’re set!

As you website evolves and you make small changes, it worth checking your loading times to see if you’ve slipped back above that 2 second mark, in which case you can come back to this page and try a few more tips!

So I hope this helps, if you have any tips not available on this page, please let me know as I’d love to keep it updated. Otherwise please share this post using the buttons below or subscribe to my newsletter if you found this useful!

Thanks for reading!

Comments anyone?

Yep, this post is open to discussion! You can see what others have said below and leave a comment of your own down the very bottom. Hook in!

  • Liudas December 1, 2014, 9:29 pm

    Damn, my site took almost 8 seconds to load. Will need to look more into this.

    Reply
    • Wade McMaster December 1, 2014, 9:45 pm

      It’s surprising isn’t it? The first time I did the test (about a year ago) I had websites taking as long as 20 seconds lol. The biggest thing for me was all of the social media boxes.

      Reply

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