WordPress is one of the most popular foundations for building a successful content-driven web site — and for good reason.  It’s powerful, scalable, and has a rich community of developers that provide amazing plugins and themes. While WordPress has come a long way over the years as far as built-in performance optimization, there are still a number of things that should be done on every production web site to deliver a fast user experience (while saving resources doing so, AKA $$).

5. Image Sizing and Compression

How often are you tempted to just upload that image to get it up quickly? Think twice next time. Running your images through an image optimization tool before uploading will significantly reduce download time and use less bandwidth in the process. ImageOptim is a fantastic and free tool to keep in your dock for optimizing images quickly.  There are also a number of WordPress plugins that use services such as TinyPNG to automatically compress images.  However, I’ve found that those can cause upload issues and sometimes comes at a cost that is rather unnecessary.

4. Minify Your Javascript and CSS

As you add themes, plugins, and customizations to your site you end up adding layers and layers of externally loaded CSS and Javascript files.  Optimizing how these files load can have a big impact on how quickly your visitors can view your “above the fold” content. While this topic can get rather complex, one of the first steps in the process is to perform a process called “minifying” your Javascript and CSS files. This removes unnecessary spaces and carriage returns from the files and can even combine them together to reduce the number of requests a page load will require against your web server.

Autoptimize is a fantastic plugin for quickly minifying your scripts and caching them.

3. Use a Caching Plugin

One major goal in decreasing load times is decreasing the total number of requests against your database software (MySQL, MariaDB, etc.). WordPress is an incredibly dynamic platform and instead of storing your pages in quick-to-load html files, they are stored within tables in a database.  Caching plugins will render these dynamic pages into static files that can be served to visitors quickly. Doing so also greatly reduces the utilization of server resources needed to handle requests.

Two very popular and rather easy to use caching plugins are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. But, our favorite and most easy to setup caching plugin is WP-Rocket. Use this link to get a discount on your license.

2. Use CloudFlare Or A Similar Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN places copies of your web site’s static content (HTML, CSS, Javascript, and images) on servers located in hundreds of different data centers around the globe. Visitors then load these resources from a server that is geographically closest to them. This not only provides a quicker connection to global visitors, but it offloads these requests from your web server or host therefore requiring fewer resources to run your web site (again, less $$). As an added benefit, a CDN also provides a layer of protection from attackers by masking the actual address of your web host.

CloudFlare is our top pick of available CDNs and offers a completely free plan. As a CloudFlare Certified Partner, we provide one-click setup of CloudFlare for all of our customers through your control panel.

1. Pick a host that knows how to host.

Your web host should be your biggest partner in providing optimization advice. Deploying and managing servers is rather easy — but running servers that are efficient, stable and effective is an art of engineering. If you’re not satisfied with your current web host, start searching for one that can deliver.

If you’re curious about what we do or would like to consult with us about your web site’s performance, check out our Web Hosting and Cloud Server products!