At a time where Google is clocking the speed of your website and your visitors are using their data minutes to access your website, how fast your website loads has become a big deal. You may have even noticed that depending on what browser you use to access your site, you have better success in viewing your own website.
Traditionally, database driven sites have suffered the speed test, but WordPress sites don’t have to fall into this trap. If your WordPress site is running slow, it may be a sign that some maintenance is required. Here are a few places to get you started to improve the speed of your website.
Items that can slow down your WordPress site
Too Much Stuff on your Homepage
A new client recently came to us because they felt the performance of their new WordPress site was not great. Users complained they were having trouble accessing the site. The homepage was taking 16 seconds to load. It was hard to figure out that a homepage that required the user to scroll through 5 screens was a lot of information to load. On this page they were feeding in two separate videos, two separate feeds to post recent blogs on the homepage, plus many photos. Not only is trying to slap everything on the homepage bad for your visitors, but it creates a very slow page.
2. Big Photos
Many WordPress sites give users the ability to load a banner or a slider photo on their homepage. One mistake that we see often is site administrators trying to put a really large photo in this space. Some of these slider programs will automatically resize the photo for you, so this is an easy mistake to make. Don’t forget to also check the size of the photo file size, not just the size of the photo on the screen. The problem is that banner is one of the first things that loads on your site. If you notice your site has suddenly slowed down, try swapping out your banner photo and see if the situation improves.
3. Plugins – Plugins – Plugins
We have recently encountered two flavors of the plugin issue.
First, we know that WordPress site owners like to experiment with plugins and the ease of this is why WordPress is great. We got a frantic call one Wednesday morning from a client asking for help because the site wouldn’t load. One of developers logged in to the admin of their site and instantly noticed that overnight the site had acquired 75 new plugins. Our developer started uninstalling each plugin one by one until the homepage was restored.
Second, another customer contacted us with a slow WordPress site. We also noticed on this site that they also had around 50 plugins on this site. Many were not currently active, so we uninstalled the inactive plugins just to eliminate that variable. But what we did find was that two of the plugins where indicating a list of error messages that had been going on for a couple of months. The plugins were trying to send something from the website and the process kept failing, so they were stuck in a loop. Once we cleared up the issue, speed was restored.
Avoid Performance Issues with Regular Maintenance
Many of the problems I have described and many others we have seen, could have been avoided. Just like you need to get your oil changed on your car every few miles, have your web developer check your WordPress site just to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Resources for Troubleshooting
Two great resources that will help you check on the speed of your site:
Google Webmaster Tools – There is a report as part of your Webmaster Tools account that reports on the health of the website. In some of the scenarios above, our first clues where to look for the problems was a long list of errors in the report.
Google’s Page Speed Test – To run this test, all you have to do is type in the address of your website. This produces a very detailed reports. However, if you are the non-techy administrator of your site, some of the items on this report will be beyond your ability to solve. Enlist your web developer and your web hosting provider to help clear up this list.