5 things you need to stop doing to get a faster WordPress website

Birgit Olzem, September 14, 2018

It is well known that fast websites have better conversion rates and rank much better in search engines. Is your website or your customers’ websites more of a snail than a race car and do you wonder why?

Want to know the secret of fast websites? Then let’s get rid of the nonsense that is told about website speed optimization on the web and put the clear facts on the table. There is no secret to get WordPress website faster. All you have to do is observe a few simple aspects and, above all, stop doing certain things.

We have already published several articles on how much speed matters and how to test it. Therefore we do not want to go into the figures and statistics here. Further links can be found at the end of this post.

To give you some handy tips, I would like to point out what you should refrain from now on so that your website loads faster.

#1 Stop! Uploading big images

Yes, I know: A picture says more than a thousand words, but when it comes to the loading time of a website, it is inevitable to think intensively about its use. Especially about the sense or nonsense of sliders above the fold of the site.

The rule of thumb says: An image should have lesser than 100kb. For fancy styling ideas, you can consider using CSS instead of images. If your website content relies on having images, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with some tools that simplify image compression.

Tools:

The image’s resolution should be set to 72 dpi and saved in JPEG format (or PNG for crisp graphics). Consider using SVG for crisp icons, logos, and design elements.

2# Stop! Depending on caching plugins

There are many myths about caching for WordPress. Several caching solutions are unnecessary if the server is optimally set up.

For instance is Varnish caching for the Server mandatory. You can use speed plugins such as WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache for pre-fetching. What caching means and how to set-up both plugins on our hosting platform, you can learn in the following articles:

3# Stop! Loading uncompressed styles and scripts

Websites and web applications are becoming more and more comprehensive, ambitious and feature-rich. However, the amount of data downloaded by each website is constantly increasing.

In terms of high performance, the delivery of each data byte must be optimized – every single KB counts!

As already mentioned above for the image optimization, every byte counts when loading a website. This also affects the amount of data on the fully rendered page.

The more scripts and styles are loaded and the more unstructured the DOM of a webpage is,
the slower the page loads in the browser. Especially when scripts are called from external sources.

Besides tweaking the HTML structure, all scripts should be modified to remove unnecessary elements and deliver a compressed version to the browser.

Minifying all scripts is sometimes counterproductive when it comes to loading data in real time.

Even if all scripts and the HTML structure are optimized and minified, we can still change the amount of data. By server-side compression with Gzip.

You can check with a tool like checkgzipcompression.com if your server is sending the correct gzip enabled header to the browser. At Savvii we already use gzip to reduce the size of HTML assets.

4# Stop! Using old and insecure PHP versions

Compared to previous versions, PHP 7.x is incredibly fast and uses significantly fewer resources to execute the code. Running a WordPress website on a server with an older PHP version is dangerous but also slows your page loading.

You should see an increase of about 50% after switching to PHP 7.x.

A change from an older PHP version to PHP 7.x can be risky in terms of compatibility if you or your clients are running a WordPress website for a long time already.

But it isn’t difficult to switch after an extended test in 4 steps.

  1. Backup your whole website
  2. Create a copy and load it into a staging environment with PHP 7.x
  3. Test your staging site and make sure everything is running smooth
  4. Upgrade your live environment to PHP 7 and test again

If you are currently faced with the decision to change your web hosting provider, our experts can help you with the migration and switch to PHP 7.xon our platform.

You can create easily a staging environment and select the preferred PHP version with only a few mouse clicks.

5# Stop! Using HTTP 1.1

HTTP 1.1 is old-fashioned and outdated. With the HTTP 1.1 is it not possible to server more than one request at the same time. It’s annoying and makes the loading slow like a snail.

HTTP/2 solves this issue through multiplexing. All request are merged to get send to the browser in one single connection. The HTTP/2 headers are significantly smaller and correspondingly faster which saves also bandwidth.

Nowadays it is essential to deliver websites encrypted. In the combination of SSL and HTTP/2 are the websites much more secure and this takes also effect to the search engine ranking.

If you want to learn more about HTTP/2 you can read the following article:
HTTP/2: What are the most important advantages for WordPress sites?

Bonus tips:

  • Remove unused plugins and themes
  • clean up your database.
  • Avoid redirects
  • choose a lightweight theme instead of a bloated multipurpose “jack of all trades device” theme.

Conclusion

We at Savvii know the pain of website owners and it’s our mission to reduce the stress. That’s why we claim #NoMoreWordStress as the motto.

If you have questions about how to speed up your website or websites of your clients, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts.

Convince yourself and try our platform for 14 days and receive a site speed check by our experts for free.

Further reading

How fast should a website load?

How to test site speed

How to Add SVG to WordPress: Your Guide to Vector Images in WordPress

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