Since you’re here, you probably own a WordPress Website, and you’re seeking a guide on how to optimize your WordPress theme. Well, WordPress offers a plethora of options when it comes to optimizing your website. It is considered as the most powerful Content Management System [CMS] that arguably powers up 30% of the internet, as of the time of writing this article.
Despite the platform’s skyrocketed acceptance and popularity, the old bugaboo of slower load time has kept bugging WordPress developers from the very beginning. However, the issue of speed incites further development of techniques and methods that could be applied to improving the performance of WordPress. The platform has evolved drastically over the years and become a tested CMS for people with no prior programming knowledge.
In this article, I’m going to disclose a few practical tips and techniques you can apply to optimize your WordPress theme and speed up your website.
1. Choose the Best Web Hosting Based on Your Needs
Choosing the right host provider can be tricky, and you should not take it lightly. There are many articles and videos on the internet that recommend the best hosting provider, and we do not disregard any of those guidelines. However, we recommend you to consider four essential issues before you make the final call.
- The first one is Speed. No matter what plan of which hosting provider you opt for, you must go for one that enables your website to load fast.
- The next one is Support. While you are researching on plans and features of different host providers, look out for available support channels – such as live chat, email, or phone – each of these companies offers. Also, take a look at their support hours. Some companies offer 24/7 customer support, while many are available on business hours only.
- Then comes the Security. The SSL certificate pops up first when we talk about security, and nowadays, it is a must. Some hosting providers don’t offer free SSL yet, but a lot of them have been getting on the bandwagon. But security goes a lot further than this. Are they taking proactive measures to prevent and block brute-force attacks on your website scanning for vulnerabilities? You must need to take this into account before you choose a plan. Also, if your site gets hacked and full of junks, is your website host ready to clear that out for you? Sadly, most web hosts actually don’t, but there are certain ones that are more than happy to clean your website out for you for a little extra money.
- The last but not the least is Specialty. Does your web host provide any unique feature for WordPress users? Consider a plan that comes with a staging environment to allow you to test your website before going live for everyone. You’ll find options with different sets of features and specialties. You may try and check various host providers to find your favorite one, but you should think before you pick one.
2. Install WordPress Cache Plugins
You can’t go wrong when opting for a WordPress Caching Plugin to speed up your website. If you don’t know what a cache plugin does, don’t be intimidated. Consider these plugins as tools to create a short-term memory of your site. When your website is visited for the first time, a copy of all requested files will be saved in a cache folder and displayed to the subsequent visitors whenever the website is reaccessed. It means that the files on your site don’t need to be requested and loaded from the server every time somebody visits it. Thus, integrating a WordPress caching plugin can significantly boost the speed of your WordPress theme. To help save you wasting time, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Best WordPress Cache Plugins, sorted in alphabetical order –
- Breeze – Free WordPress Cache Plugin
- Cache Enabler – WordPress Cache
- Comet Cache
- Hyper Cache
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Fastest Cache
- WP Rocket
- WP Speed of Light
- WP Super Cache
However, there is a catch when it comes to implementing caching on your website. Since caching allows you to display a saved version of your site to visitors while reducing load-time, it may work adversely in the case of dynamic contents such as social media feeds or shopping cart. But caching plugins are a gem for websites with mostly static contents. However, you can use a separate cache plugin for different pages to maximize the efficiency and speed of your site.
3. Pick Well-Optimized Theme and High-Quality Plugins
It is essential to pick a well-coded theme and high-quality plugins to enhance the overall performance of your website. Some themes come with unneeded functionality, and some plugins drain more resources to function. You need to put a bit of effort into research before choosing the right themes and plugins for your WordPress website. Don’t forget to check out user reviews and ratings, look at the update history, and make sure that the theme and plugins are compatible with your version of WordPress. This can save you from installing anything that might slow down your website. On that note, we strongly recommend you to check out SaasLand – one of the best multipurpose WordPress themes in the market – created with features that enable you to build a responsive and blazing fast website with a modern outlook.
4. Don’t Forget to Update Your WordPress Software, Themes, and Plugins
WordPress is an ever-evolving CMS, with the WordPress team often releasing updates packed with new features, bug fixes, security fixes, and more. However, many webmasters remain apathetic about these updates, which is not recommended.
When it comes to WordPress, you must always keep your site updated with the latest themes, plugins, and WordPress versions. The updates keep your site protected from the latest security threats and ensure that it remains as fast as possible.
Each core update enables your site to deliver content and handle codes better. Updating WordPress Plugins and your active theme is equally important. It allows you to have access to all their functionality while minimizing the number of bugs and potential security holes present in the software.
5. Compress and Optimize Images on Your Website
Yes, images are great. Images make your site look amazing and come handy when it comes to supplementing your text content. But images are also responsible for draining most of your site’s resources. Apart from server space, images kill the download speed of the visitors on your website. This is particularly true in the case of high-quality images.
So, to avoid losing your traffic, you need to make sure that the images on your website are correctly compressed. You can make good use of different WordPress Image Optimizer plugins to reduce the size of the pictures on your website. Also, you can compress the images manually with the help of many free tools available online.
Here is a list of WordPress Image Optimizer plugins that can be helpful –
Each of these plugins comes with pros and cons. You can test and retest these plugins on your website to see what works best for your website.
6. Avoid Too Many Videos
It’s better to remain cautious about publishing too many videos on your website. Like images, videos are also guilty of killing space and increasing loading time. Use short, relevant, and informative videos that complement your text content and make sure that it does not lower the speed of your website.
7. Make Use of a Content Delivery Network
Despite the rapid digitization in the field of communication, physical distance is yet an issue when it comes to transferring information online. A Content Delivery Network [CDN] allows you to ensure consistent and faster user experience for visitors, regardless of their geolocation.
The CDN refers to a network of proxy servers – located in different geographic positions – to ensure faster content delivery to users across the world. The CDN stores a copy of your website on each server, which allows users to access your site from a server geographically close to them. Apart from improving your site’s speed, it also increases the security of your website.
On top of that, leveraging a CDN can help you to prevent your site from crashing in case of high traffic since users from different regions can access the information on your site form different servers.
If you are already convinced about using a CDN with your WordPress website, we recommend you to install a plugin, such as Cloudfare, which comes with a reputation of boosting your site’s speed with minimal configuration required.
8. Minify Your Website’s Files
Minification refers to the process of making your site’s code more efficient. It helps a computer to read and process the codes on your website faster. Removal of whitespace, comments, and any unnecessary character is the main objective of this procedure.
If you are not comfortable with coding, it’s okay. You can use online tools such as CSS Compressor or Minify to make your website’s code run faster.
However, it’s always convenient to opt for a plugin when you own a WordPress site. Here is a list of eight amazing plugins, with both free and premium features, available in the WordPress Plugin Repository –
- HTML Minify
- Minify HTML
- Merge + Minify + Refresh – WordPress Plugin
- JCH Optimize
- CSS Minify
- Fast Velocity Minify
- Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization
9. Get rid of Unused Themes and Plugins
To maximize the performance of your website, you need to get rid of any themes or plugins you no longer need. A theme or plugin takes up space on your server, even if it is no longer active on your site.
Fortunately, it shouldn’t take too long to clean up your unused themes and plugins. But be mindful of plugins that save additional data, which usually don’t get removed, even if you delete the plugin. You may need to remove these extra and unnecessary files manually. However, before removing any themes and plugins, you better create a backup of your site. This will enable you to return to your backed-up version if anything goes wrong while cleaning unused themes and plugins
10. Keep Your Media Library Clean
As your site grows, your media library will get filled up with images, docs, and other files. After a certain period, it’s not unusual for sites to contain hundreds, if not thousands of image files. Such a large number of records can drain your server space significantly, even if you make good use of image optimization. On top of that, a fair amount of these files might not even in use anymore. And like always, there are plugins, such as Media Cleaner, to save you from the intimidating task of identifying and deleting unused media files manually.
A few Words Before We Finish
There is no way to overstate the importance of maximizing the performance of your website. A sluggish site is always at the risk of losing potential visitors, even if it has excellent content. However, this doesn’t have to be your site’s fate, as WordPress comes with plenty of ways to improve your site speed.
In this guide, we’ve discussed some of the most effective methods for optimizing your WordPress Themes and Websites. If you find this helpful or if you find anything missing, feel free to let us know via comments. Together, we can grow big.