Slow website speeds can have a big impact on your visitors and their usage of your website. Up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website’s performance say they’re less likely to buy from the same site again.
How can you test your website speed?
Testing your website speed is crucial to have a comparison before making any improvements. On average, you want your website to be quick as possible and loading flawlessly. Our two favourite tools are Google Pagespeed and GTmetrix Speed Test.
These tools have their limitations and should be used as reference only. Google pagespeed for example is a great tool but at times it will flag negative points against your website for having Google Analytics or Google Recaptcha scripts active. GTmetrix is a great tool for a comparison of general speed.
The best plan is to always think about website speed from the very start but the following steps will help you speed up an existing website.
Set Up a Caching Plugin
Using a caching plugin can help serve a static version of your website to your customers, saving server resources and load times. The most common caching plugin is W3 Total Cache.
In my experience, adding the basic settings for W3 total cache (page cache, minify & browser cache) will make a large improvement but you may need to play around with the settings to determine what works best for your website.
*Word of caution: Caching is great but some features can cause havoc with certain plugins. Always make sure to do your testing on a development server and not a live website to avoid causing issues with your current visitors.
Cloudflare is a service that can help distribute your network load across a global network, while also providing built in optimizations such as minifying code and an advanced cache. It also offers an extensive free plan and free SSL that should suit most businesses. Cloudflare includes services to also keep your website online during an outage or unusual heavy traffic.
Cloudflare can also be setup to work with W3 total cache as a built-in extension.
The above image was taken from one of our clients websites, it provides an overall view of how much bandwidth was saved and peak hours over the last 30 days.
Images are one of the heaviest resources to load on your website and optimizing/compressing them can make a huge improvement for your website. We prefer to use Shortpixel as a wordpress plugin to bulk optimize new & previously uploaded images. Shortpixel also offers 100 free images, or 10,000 images for a one-time fee of $9.99.
Serve .WEBP images
WebP images can be up to three times smaller than PNGs and 25% smaller than JPGs. Shortpixel allows you to automatically replace all of your website images with Webp and will generate them for you.
These images will appear the same to your visitors on the front page but increase speed during load times.
*Word of caution: Older browsers don’t like WebP images. For corporate websites, or e-commerce websites you may want to research what your traffic is like before making the switch.
Lazyload works to serve up images of your website as users scroll to certain sections. This is useful for large image heavy websites or one-page websites.
We prefer to use BJ Lazyload plugin that is a set it and forgot it. It will automatically start working on your website and allow you to customize basic settings such as pixel length from current viewport.
Website hosting is a big factor in Website Speed. Shared hosting (usually offered by large companies like Godaddy) can be fairly slow. If you have tried all of the above steps with no luck, you may want to consider finding a better website hosting.
Shared hosting shares a servers resources across dozens of websites. During heavy peak loads (on your website or another website on the same server) your load time can drastically increase.
For large websites, a dedicated server or virtual private server is recommended. Dedicated servers or virtual private servers have dedicated resources and offer a massive improvement in the initial connection time from the browser to the server.
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