If you are on this page, then we did a good job, and the Apollo13Themes blog loads fast enough for you. However, this post isn’t about our work. Rather, it’s about how to make your site load faster.
The cruel reality is that users simply don’t want to wait for a page to load. It’s a complete waste of time to create outstanding content for a slow loading site. No one will consume it. Instead of wondering if that’s fair user behavior, fully focus on speeding up your site.
The good news is that even the average WordPress user can significantly improve a site’s loading speed. All you need is a few hours, five or four plugins, and patience.
Without any further ado, here is our complete guide to making your site load fast enough to satisfy your visitors.
Benchmark the Current Performance
There are many speed optimization guides on the internet. Some of them target advanced users, and others target beginners, but most of them target average users. The majority of these guides revolve around the same recommendations, but this post comes with a rarely seen perspective: you can’t start optimizing your site without a clear idea of its current state.
Many speed optimization articles overlook this aspect. Your first step should be to benchmark the current site performance, and there are a couple of reliable tools for this job. You can get a complete idea of your site by using these three tools, but the list isn’t exhaustive. You can use your tool of choice as long as it provides enough data.
Google provides an outstanding tool for evaluating the loading speed of a site. Add your site address into the search form, and you’ll get a ranking for mobile and desktop. A perfect site will get 100 points, but you have to do your best to get at least 50 points, especially for the mobile version.
This tool will also give you plenty of useful suggestions to speed up your site.
Pingdom tests your site from seven data centers all over the world. It evaluates your site and provides stats about it, such as performance grade, page size, loading time, and the number of requests.
Just like PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom performs a complete analysis of the site and give precious hints to help you accelerate it.
This tool is similar to Pingdom, and it impresses with its complete site analysis. Less-trained users won’t find much value in it, but the average and advanced users appreciate the insights provided.
The hosting provider you selected matters a lot. You can do everything possible on your end, but if your site’s host is poor, everything is useless. Luckily, there are tons of reviews for hosting companies, and you can make an informed decision by looking at them.
Cloud hosting is the best choice in terms of speed, but it’s pretty expensive. If you don’t have a solid budget, take a look at WordPress.org’s recommendations for hosting.
The theme plays a significant role in the tangled equation of speed improvement. The code behind that theme impacts the loading speed, so pay close attention when choosing a theme.
On average, a multipurpose theme loads slower than a niche theme. We know how important speed is to users, so we developed an ultra-fast theme. Both Rife Free and Rife Pro are optimized for speed. Feel free to test the themes and let us know your results!
Get Rid of Everything Unused
You have probably installed a few themes and plugins but only use some of them. Delete everything you don’t use. The impact of these unused assets isn’t huge, but why waste precious milliseconds just because you didn’t delete old themes and plugins?
Optimize All Images
I hardly believe that there is a website out there with no images. On the flip side, people associate poor-quality images with deplorable services or products. You have no choice but to use quality images. That wouldn’t be a problem except they affect the loading speed.
Unfortunately, images hog the server’s resources, and as a result, the site load slowly. You have to optimize all your images to make it load faster. It sounds complicated, but there are plugins to do the leg work for you. Smush is a great plugin for image optimization that comes in both free and premium versions. ShortPixel is an alternative to Smush that optimizes images in no time while preserving their quality.
Reduce HTTP Requests
When someone visits a web page, the browser makes several requests to the server. The more requests, the more time the page needs to load in the browser. Therefore, reducing the number of HTTP requests is a top priority for improving a site’s speed. It’s not a simple task, but even an amateur WordPress user can reduce HTTP requests.
The most relevant non-techy action you can do is to simplify the design. Each additional item means an extra request. For instance, my PageSpeed Insight score improved by a few points after I reduced the number of blog posts per page from ten to six. Fewer blog posts is equivalent to fewer HTTP requests, so the page loads faster.
Reducing HTTP requests can be achieved by compressing the resources, leveraging caching, and reducing redirects.
Compress the Resources
You have probably archived images or documents to save space on your hard drive. The same idea works with your WordPress site. Simply enable Gzip compression to reduce the files’ size. These files will be automatically unzipped when a user visits your site. You can enable Gzip compression by changing the code of your site or using a plugin.
Leverage Browser Caching
Using a caching system on your site reduces the number of requests for repeat visitors. Caching refers to storing the site’s assets in a temporary storage folder and delivering these assets when the user visits that page. In this case, the number of requests is cut down. W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are two caching plugins that are used and trusted by millions of users.
You’ve installed and uninstalled plugins, but not all of them are completely removed from your site’s database when you hit the Uninstall Plugin button. Not only do plugins burden the database, but so do post revisions, unapproved comments, and trash.
Once again, plugins can do the leg work for you. With just a click, you can optimize your site database. Install a database optimization plugin and clean the database regularly. WP-Optimize is one of the most appreciated plugins in this respect.
Making your site load faster is a journey, not a destination. Any design changes or code tweaks will influence the loading speed, so you have no choice but to spend an hour or two a week improving your site’s speed. It’s pretty challenging to do without a few plugins, but keep in mind that some plugins’ features may overlap. Test each plugins’ settings to get the most from them.
A good hosting provider solves almost half of the speed equation. Budget is a problem for almost everyone, so only a few can afford premium hosting plans. Search for deals and discounts to get the optimal balance between host quality and price.
A theme is as important as the host. If you plan to purchase a theme, ask the seller what they did to speed up the theme. Finally, I strongly encourage you to check out our theme, Rife, and let us know if you think it’s fast enough for your project.