Website speed is important for a variety of reasons. Here are 4 key reasons:

  • A faster site will increase your conversions.
  • A faster site means Google will love you.
  • A faster site will provide a better experience for your customers and visitors, resulting in fewer bounces.
  • The speed of your site is part of your brand.
    ** Most important for emcommerce sites increased sales and consumer confidence.

We will run through some very specific actions you can take to speed up your website. We’ll also address the common reasons for slow websites, so you can work out which ones you need to deal with in order to improve your page speed.

Hosting

The quickest and easiest win you can have with page speed, is upgrading from a cheap shared hosting provider to a managed WordPress host. Cheap hosts are good for when you are starting out, but for ultimate performance you can’t match a managed WordPress host. Even our clients who have signed up with a dedicated server or a VPS (Virtual Private Server) struggle to match the performance of a managed host.

We switch hosting to WPX Hosting and noticed an immediate 54% speed improvement the day we moved. They have a smart way of managing WordPress sites. They have different ways of managing caching and serves images and other files at lightning speed. Prior to WPX Hosting, we were hosted on Godaddy and we had a CDN (Cloudflare) as well as a caching plugin installed. So a 54% speed improvement was pretty remarkable.
Read More about our ecommerce site here.
show me country speed test 12-24-2016

If you want to know if your host is an issue, here are 2 easy tools you can use.

If you want to know if your host is an issue, here are 2 easy tools you can use. Google PageSpeed Insights A really quick and dirty test is to enter your domain into Google PageSpeed Insights. If one of the issues raised is ‘Server response time’, then you can get a big win from hosting with a fast host.

The Pingdom Speed Test Tool will give you some quick information about the speed of your site. This doesn’t just relate to server speed, it will give you a lot of useful and actionable information. Here’s a rough, subjective guide of what is acceptable:

Under 1 second is excellent
Under 2 seconds is good
Anything around 5 seconds or more requires action
These times can be influenced by a lot of things, but as a guide if you are under the 2 second mark, you probably won’t experience a huge win by changing hosting.

Plugins

It’s not just speed. Your choice in plugins will be a common reason behind a lot of WordPress problems. Because plugins are written by different developers with varying skills, you need to be careful what you install and how many you install. As a general guide, we like to keep sites to under 20 plugins. A better rule of thumb is ‘less is best’. If you can have 0 then that’s fantastic, but probably unrealistic. We have arecommendation Remove any plugins you don’t need Remove any inactive or active plugins that you don’t need.
A really quick and dirty test is to enter your domain into Google PageSpeed Insights. If one of the issues raised is ‘Server response time’, then you can get a big win from hosting with a fast host.Know your plugins and keep them updated.

We will have more on plugins at a later time.

The Pingdom Speed Test Tool will give you some quick information about the speed of your site. This doesn’t just relate to server speed, it will give you a lot of useful and actionable information. Here’s a rough, subjective guide of what is acceptable:

*Under 1 second is excellent
*Under 2 seconds is good
*Anything around 5 seconds or more requires action
These times can be influenced by a lot of things, but as a guide if you are under the 2 second mark, you probably won’t experience a huge win by changing hosting.

Site size

A common reason for sites being slow is because of the size (in kilobytes) of all of the elements that make up the site, namely scripts and images. The Pingdom Speed test tool can tell you how big your site is. Our site was only 1.4 MB, which is OK. We’ve seen plenty of sites that are 4mb plus and that will have a massive impact on your download speed. Here are some rough, subjective guidelines around the size of the site:

Under 500kb is excellent
Under 1mb is good
1-3 mb is acceptable
3mb plus requires action
The culprit for a large site is often large images. Here are 2 ways to find if you have images that need to be optimized: The quick and dirty way is to use the Pingdom site speed test tool and after you run the test, click the drop down and choose ‘Sort by file size’. If you have images in here that are over 100kb then you can take action on those images.

site_speed_image_size

A better way is to use GT Metrix. Visit GT Metrix, enter your domain name and run the search. This will give you a bunch of important facts and specifically lists all of the images that need to be optimized. It even optimizes them for you which is a neat feature. You’ll have to download them and replace the ones on your site.

page_speed_images

Here are a few other tips for optimizing images inside WordPress:

Optimize all images before you load them into WordPress. As a general rule, I like all images to be well under 100kb. Simply right click on the image on your computer’s file manager and choose Properties. If the size is bigger than 100kb then it’s too big. Use an image editing program or a site like Tinypng.com You’d be amazed at how many speed issues are resolved by optimizing a few images.
Use the exact required size for images and don’t rely on your theme to resize them. For example, if your theme shows featured images at 120px wide, make sure you create them at exactly that size.
Squish existing images with a plugin called Smush It.
Use less images. You can use more CSS and less images to reduce the overall size of images. Alternatively, you can reduce the overall length of your pages which will also reduce the amount of images used.
Deliver your media files via a CDN. CDN’s like MaxCDN or Cloudflare can serve your images quicker.
Cache your images. If you aren’t using server caching or a managed WordPress host, you can cache your images with a plugin like W3 Total Cache. This improves the download speed, although I prefer having this handled by the hosting provider.
Reducing external scripts
A really common cause for slow WordPress sites, is the existence of too many external scripts. Having Facebook like buttons, your Klout score and offsite videos are examples that can have a big impact on the load time. Once you load from other sites, it limits your options in terms of how you can treat that script. Simply removing some of these features can have a big impact on your site speed. On our blog, we ran with a minimalist design that focuses on the content. We removed Facebook and Twitter share totals from the blog homepage. We don’t use any externally hosted Infusionsoft forms. We compromised by keeping Disqus and SwiftType, because they are exceptional plugins. For others, we decided we could live without the feature in favor of having the blog load quickly. Simply deciding that you can live without certain features is sometimes all it takes to get a significant boost in speed. Here is a list of some common external scripts:

Video scripts like Wistia or YouTube embed scripts.
External commenting plugins like Disqus or Google+ comments.
Social media buttons like Twitter follow buttons and Facebook like buttons.
Social sharing plugins for blog posts.
Live chat plugins.
Conversion plugins like pop-up scripts and opt in forms.
Analytics services like Google Analytics or Infusionsoft web tracking.
External font scripts like Typekit or Google Fonts.
Not to say you should always turn these off, it’s all a compromise you may really want some of these features but you can compromise on others. To work out which scripts are particularly big, you can use the same approach above with the Pingdom Site Speed Tool and filter by size. GT Metrix will also tell you how many external JavaScript files your site is loading. From there you might decide you can live without some of them, combine them or make them load later (more on this later).