Here are some tips for making sure your WordPress site is as fast as possible:
WordPress makes it very easy to add functionality to your site via the inbuilt plug-in browser and with over 50 thousand available plug-ins to choose from you can make your WordPress site into anything from a blog to an ecommerce store with the click of a button.
One thing to bear in mind however is the impact of plug-ins and your websites speed. Each plug-in you install adds another level of complexity to your WordPress install which can lead to bloat and slow sites.
Some things to consider when using Plug-ins on WordPress are:
- How many plug-ins you are using. This is clearly dependant on what sort of plug-ins you are using but typically if you can keep this under 10 then this is optimal.
- What the plug-in does and how it impacts the site. For example, installing a plug-in that renders PDFs on your home page may seem handy but this would significantly increase the load time of that page.
- Removing plug-ins that are not in use. If you have plug-ins that are installed but not active, then there is no reason to have them at all. Even a deactivated plug-in can cause slowness on a site and can even become a security risk is that plug-in gets outdated.
Adding caching to your website can significantly increase the speed of your site by making frequently accessed content quicker for visitors to load. There multiple types of caching you can use to help improve the speed of your site:
- Caching plug-ins – WordPress has many different caching plug-ins available. The biggest three are WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache. Installing and configuring any of these on your WordPress site is likely to yield much better load speeds.
- Server side caching – Redis is a database cache that can considerably increase the speed of your website. However, WordPress cannot utilise Redis out of the box so you would need to use something like the W3 Total Cache plugin and then configure that to connect to Redis
- Content Delivery Networks (CDN) – A CDN can help with speeding up your websites for international visitors by making your websites static content available to the visitor from more localised servers. The most popular and easiest way to set up a CDN on your site is to sign up to Cloudflare.
Images play a big part in the speed of your website. Having images that are too large and the incorrect size for the space they are taking up on your website will take longer to load and can slow down your website.
It’s very important to take note of the file size and resolution of an image when adding one to your WordPress website. However, it’s not always possible to control everything that is uploaded to the site. Luckily there are a number of plug-ins that can help compress your sites images after they have been uploaded to the site.
Some very popular image compression plug-ins for WordPress are:
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- Compress JPEG & PNG images
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer
- WP Smush
Choosing the right PHP version is vital in making sure your WordPress site is running as fast as it can. Running your site using an older version of PHP such as 5.6 and older can not only make your website slow but can also lead to security problems as older versions of PHP do not get patched for security vulnerabilities. The latest version of PHP is 8.1 so if possible make sure you are using this.
You can determine what version of PHP your website is running by creating a php info file. This is a small file that you can upload to the site and browse to which will give you information on your php version and settings.
To create this file, open a plain text editor and add the following lines:
// Show all information, defaults to INFO_ALL
Then save the file with the file name of phpinfo.php and upload this file to your site. Next browse the file by going to your domain name /phpinfo.php. For example www.mydomain.com/phpinfo.php At the top of the page, the PHP version is displayed. If you do fine you are using an old PHP version, don’t worry, it’s normally very easy to change this within your servers control Panel. Here are some additional guides that show you how to do this: