Websites should always perform at an optimal level. Thatís why boosting your site performance is no longer an option. Itís a necessity. Fortunately, WordPress users have plugins that can keep their site running smoothly.
Why is my website so slow?
Some sites will always be slower than others. If your WordPress site is unbearably slow, however, it could be due to one of the following reasons:
- Bloated plugins ñ Some plugins are so big, they slow down site performance.
- Bad theme ñ Poorly coded themes affect site speed too. Only use the best WordPress blog themes.
- Image files ñ You should lower the file size of big images.
- Poor site hosting ñ Some hosting companies provide lousy service.
- External scripts ñ Ads, font loaders, and other external scripts impact site speed.
Improving site performance
How does one improve site performance? Google penalizes slow websites by ranking them lower in search results. And as of July 2018, Google will use page speed as a ranking factor for mobile search. Pages that ìdeliver the slowest experience to usersî will be impacted by the update.
In a survey quoted by Skilled.co, it states that 47% of customers expect websites to load within two seconds. 64% of smartphone users expect sites to load within four seconds. While other factors like internet speed are at play, users expect sites to load at reasonable speeds.
The same article mentions that 79% of customers who are unhappy with page load times are less likely to buy from you again. It causes hesitation from repeat buyers.
That said, your main goal should be to address site speed issues. There are a number of WordPress speed plugins that can help you achieve better load times.
There are different ways to approach this. You can use caching plugins to let browsers load sites faster. There are also plugins that help with image compression. There are also tools that combine JS, HTML, and CSS. This process is referred to as minifying.
Before you start, you should evaluate your site. That way, youíll be able to identify problem areas you need to address. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to start.
WordPress speed plugins that improve site performance
Here are a few WordPress speed plugins that are proven to improve site performance.
Price: Free (premium version available)
When your site gets heavy traffic, WP Fastest Cache can create static HTML files. This means pages no longer have to render repeatedly every time a user visits your site. The plugin is intuitive and easy to install.
Since its launch, the plugin continues to garner 5-star reviews from its users.
- Has minify for CSS and JS
- Works with content delivery networks (CDN)
- Caching of search results page
- There have been reports of bad customer support
- Unclear pricing for premium version
Price: Free (premium version available)
W3 Total Cache is another plugin that deals with caching issues. It comes with numerous features aimed at improving site speed. Like WP Fastest Cache, this plugin compresses pages and serves them to your site visitors.
- Lots of configurations for advanced users
- Works with CDNs
- Overwhelming options might intimidate non-techies
- Limited support
The plugin has a simple interface. It simply offers users two options: compress JS and/or CSS. Opening your siteís source code will show you the file size before and after you minify your script. That makes it easier to tell how much your site has improved.
- Great choice for beginners
- Easy to set up and use
- Too simplistic for advanced users
- You canít exclude any files or clear the cache
WP Smush can optimize your images without losing quality. You can resize images as you upload your images. But you can also use the plugin to compress previously uploaded images in bulk. If you want to remove unwanted metadata on your images, you can use WP Smush to wipe everything clean.
- Compress previously uploaded images in bulk
- Supports common image formats like JPG, GIF, and PNG
- Gives you no control over image size output
- Only reduces images by 10 to 20 percent
Ordinarily, entire pages are loaded as users land on your site. But if your pages contain lots of text, images, and videos, load times will be slower. To get around that, lazy loading was born.
BJ Lazy Load is a plugin that loads your site one section at a time. As users scroll down, new sections are loaded. Your site only loads when users are ready to move on. By loading your site incrementally, everything loads faster.
- Comprehensive loading options
- You can specify where to apply lazy loading
There are reports of BJ Lazy Load changing WordPress behavior that causes it to render full-resolution images.
The longer you run your website, the messier it gets. Older versions of your content are saved and never removed. This increases the amount of data stored in WordPress. The more trash you have in your database, the slower your site will perform.
WP-Optimize helps clean up your database and make it more efficient. It removes spam, unapproved comments, previous revisions, and other unused data in your site.
- Lets you schedule when you want to do automatic cleanups
- Gives you lots of cleanup options
- Status log informs you of your progress
Tables using InnoDB engine canít be optimized.
Another caching plugin for WordPress. Cache Enabler is lightweight and can be set up in minutes. It has basic features that allow you to quickly clear the cache and set post IDs to exclude from the cache. You can even set the expiration time.
- Easy to set up and use
- You can set the cache behavior
- Not enough features included in the plugin
- You need to install another plugin to add CDN
Price: Free (Cloud service available at $.003/image per month)
EWWW Image Optimizer is a plugin that increases site speed through image optimization. It automatically optimizes new images that are uploaded to your site. It also allows you to convert images to the best file format.
Developers of the plugin say they use unique algorithms to gain maximum compression while remaining visually lossless.
- Automatic resizing of images
- Bulk optimization is an option
- Skips previously optimized images
Cloud setting (premium version) can get expensive if you have a lot of images.
Bonus: Non-plugin solutions
Some site speed issues canít be resolved through WordPress speed plugins. But that does not mean you canít do anything about them.
- Change WordPress hosting ñ If youíre using a shared hosting plan, consider upgrading to a WordPress hosting plan.
- iFrames ñ These are HTML documents that are embedded inside another HTML. YouTube videos use this technology. These can slow your site down. Limit your use of iFrame.
- Remove 404 errors ñ Errors can also contribute to slow speeds. Remove links that are no longer working. Also, limit redirects.
- Donít install too many plugins ñ Limit the number of plugins you install. Donít have more than one analytics tool, for example.
Of the WordPress caching plugins mentioned, W3 Total Cache is the most trusted one. Itís used by big brands such as AT&T and Mashable. It has over 2,700 5-star ratings and over 1 million active installations. Itís tried and tested. It gets updated on a regular basis.
Itís hard to go against such a trusted plugin.
Perfmatters offers a unique solution but because itís a one-trick pony, itís hard to recommend to average users. If you have the resources to spare, you should probably give it a go.
If youíre looking for a quick way to shave off 10 to 20 percent of your image size, WP Smush is not a bad option.
These are some of the best WordPress speed plugins available today. These should help you boost your site performance.