The attention span of an average website visitor is just five seconds. In these five seconds, you have to grab the interest of the visitor and entice them in.
Page load time is one of the most important aspect of user experience. 80% of the customers who experience slow page load never returns to the website. For an ecommerce website, this translates into a huge loss in both revenues and traffic.
WordPress powers a significant section of the internet and as such, the page load time for WordPress websites is an important aspect of user experience. Decreasing the page load time for WordPress websites is a matter of balancing several factors and making the right decisions.
Let’s start with the most important aspects of speeding up WordPress websites;
1. Pick A Good Host:
A good host is the most essential requirement for any website. For many websites, a cloud based hosting platform is the best bet. These platforms allow you to manage and maintain your website on a dedicated server that frees you from many hassles.
Read more: Start a Self Hosted WordPress Blog
2. Begin With a Solid Theme
Themes come in all flavors but all themes are not created equal. Even when you have opted for a premium theme, there are chances that things will not work out the way you intended.
The most important step in theme selection is that you check the speed of the theme’s demo by using Pingdom or similar tools.
The best option is to use lightweight themes, like WordPress’s default themes.The new Twenty Sixteen theme is a very good way to beginning a blog. For a feature-rich website, you must opt for a theme based on a good framework like Foundation or Bootstrap.
Read More: Mobile Friendly WordPress Theme
3. Use a Great Caching Plugin
Caching plugins drastically improve page load time by storing static portions of the website so that the browser does not have to load them again and again. Several top rated caching plugins are free to use.
I recommend W3 Total Cache. W3 Total Cache is a very popular WordPress caching plugins that is designed to work right out of the box. It offers advanced caching mechanisms that are trusted by popular websites like Mashable, AT&T, <a href=”https://yoast.com/”Yoast and many others.
4. Optimize Image Size
You have two options to reduce image size.
You could manually change the size using Chrome PageSpeed Insights extension, Photoshop or any such tools. The downside is that the process could take a lot of time. The second method is to use one of the many plugins that take care of the process. I recommend that you try out the following two plugins for hassle free image optimization:
5. Clean Up Your WP Database:
If your WordPress website has been up for a long time, cleaning the database could result in decreased load times. Doing daily cleanups reduces the database size which translates into faster loading and smaller backup files.
Luckily, there are many plugins for WordPress that do the hard job for you. To help clean databases, I recommend WP-Sweep Plugin. This plugin optimizes your WordPress database tables and much more.
6. Use a CDN
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is another great option for speeding up WordPress websites. A CDN speeds up the delivery of web page to the visitor sand greatly reduces load time.
7. Disable Hotlinking
Hotlinking is when another website/web based resource utilizes an inline link to show a picture that is hosted on your website. Whenever someone clicks on the link, the load is transferred to your server. There are several ways in which you could disable hotlinking on your WordPress.
8. Homepage Optimization
Finally, you should optimize your homepage to be as light as possible. This means that the homepage should have no unnecessary images, widgets and third-party hosted scripts that increase load time. In short, the homepage should be as streamlined and uncluttered as possible.
Use post format options to display snippets that are linked to the complete posts. Similarly, the number of posts on the homepage adversely affects the load time.
I hope that by adopting these steps, your WordPress website loads up quickly and that your bounce rate has improved. If you need clarifications or would like to contribute to the discussion, please leave a comment below.