Building a WordPress website as a one-man developer is more than possible. On top of the plethora of plugins that infuse all kinds of functionality into your site, WordPress also supports countless themes for different types of websites — not to mention the truckloads of free learning resources available online.
Unfortunately, creating a visually appealing website is only a piece of the WordPress development puzzle.
If you have bigger plans for your site, say generating newsletter subscribers or setting up an online store, then you need to mind the experience that you offer your would-be users.
To be fair, WordPress is known as a stable and dependable CMS in terms of performance. But as you go about integrating features into your site one after the other, you’ll inevitably cause a dip in your site’s loading speed.
Unless, if you’re aware of the top performance optimization strategies that will keep your site running smoothly.
Without further ado, here are seven of the best strategies you should start with:
1. Running a Performance Analysis
Before you go any further, you should know that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to performance optimization.
Your approach must be tailor-made for your website’s needs. And for this, the best place to start would be at Google PageSpeed Insights — a free performance optimization tool that automatically identifies issues that affect your website’s loading speed.
On top of providing a thorough analysis of your website, PageSpeed Insights will also show you a list of actionable recommendations that you should apply. Simply click “Show how to fix” underneath each issue to view the specifics.
2. Optimize Your Images
Visual content may be necessary if you want to grab your target audience’s attention. But if you haphazardly sprinkle high-resolution images all over your page, then you’re definitely going to bottleneck your site’s bandwidth usage.
A rule of thumb is to compress your images — either through lossless or lossy means — to reduce their file size and give your loading time a significant boost.
Tools like TinyJPG, TinyPNG, Visual Watermark and Compressor.io can get the job done externally. But if you’d rather streamline your performance optimization efforts through WordPress, then the most sensible method is to use a plugin like WP Smush.
Upon installation, WP Smush can automatically compress every image you upload to your WordPress media library. Just be sure to enable the “Automatically smush my images on upload” option from the dashboard.
3. Minify Your Code
Apart from your visual content, your website’s custom codes are also some of the assets that could require a considerable amount of bandwidth.
This probably won’t be a problem if you’re not running a lot of custom widgets or adding extensive modifications to your website’s codes. But if you do, then you should use a code minification tool to prevent messy code from slowing your site down.
Minification works by eliminating unnecessary characters, such as comments and white spaces, from your codes. While it’s nigh impossible to implement by hand, you can make the process a breeze with plugins like W3 Total Cache and Fast Velocity Minify.
If you prefer manually minifying your code, then you can use a third-party tool like MinifyCode.com. All you need to do is paste your code into the appropriate “minifier,” click the “Minify” button, and let the tool do its work.
4. Enable Browser Caching
One of the reasons why WordPress sites can be slow is because pages are rendered dynamically.
Every time a user tries to access your site, their browser individually downloads the necessary files and constructs the page from top to bottom.
With browser caching, you can prompt your site to temporarily store data into the browser’s memory. This grants the user immediate access to your website’s content the next time they try to load the next page.
To enable caching on your WordPress website, the best route is to utilize one of the many caching plugins available from the plugin repository.
5. Constantly Update Your WordPress Version
At this point, you should already know that WordPress regularly rolls out updates that address issues that your website’s security, stability, and performance.
The good news is, keeping your WordPress version updated is perhaps the easiest performance optimization strategy in this list. From the main dashboard, simply hover your mouse pointer over “Dashboard” and click “Updates.”
In addition to updates for the WordPress CMS itself, you can also individually update your plugins as well as any theme you currently have installed — regardless if they’re active or not.
6. Implement AMP
To optimize your website’s performance on mobile devices, a surefire strategy is to build Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
However, using AMP on your WordPress website is definitely not a weekend project that you can tackle without preparation. What you need to do is to start with a plugin like AMP for WP, which can set you off in the right direction with an installation wizard.
7. Leverage a CDN
Let’s say you invested in marketing tactics that would bring tons of traffic to your site, such as submitting guest posts, launching newsletter campaigns, and social media marketing.
Everything’s going well – except for the increasing number of complaints from users who get bad experiences from your site.
Here’s an inescapable fact: the more your traffic grows, the harder your web host works to deliver content to users. Visitors from other countries may also experience increased latency due to the physical distance between them and your host’s servers.
That’s why most website owners, particularly those who plan to cater to international users, brace for the upcoming traffic increase by leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Put simply, a CDN increases loading speed by spreading the load of transferring web data to multiple proxy servers. The problem of latency is also essentially eliminated since most CDN providers have servers geographically-distributed across key locations.
For some, WordPress development is a hobby that brings them satisfaction as long as they get a site up and running. Others, however, see it as an opportunity to deliver value to the online audience and be rewarded in kind.
If you consider yourself part of the latter, then optimizing your WordPress site’s performance should be one of your top priorities. And with the guide above, it’s only a matter of time before you fulfill your objectives. Good luck!