How long does your WordPress site take to load on the desktop? What about on mobile browsers? Those are both important question - and if your answer is anything other than a second or two, you’re in trouble.
Modern web users have notoriously short attention spans. According to KissMetrics, 40% of them will abandon a site that takes three seconds to load. And that number only grows larger with load times.
You want to do everything in your power to keep your load times to a minimum - and these tweaks will help you do exactly that.
First thing’s first, one thing a lot of site owners don’t realize is the impact their theme has on speed. Some themes or frameworks tend to be ‘heavier’ than others, and a particularly feature-heavy one can really drag your site down. Choose a solid theme that’s both lightweight and quick, like Thesis or Javelin - you might be surprised at the difference it makes.
Two of the most common contributors to site slowdown are sliders and image galleries. Fortunately, there are plugins for those. Soliloquy, for example, is an excellent slider optimization plugin that cuts down speed more than any other, while Envira Gallery is one of the quickest - and most feature-rich - you’ll find.
By far, media files like images, menus, and videos are the biggest performance drain on your site. They’ve the largest impact on page load times, and are the most significant issue your users will run into. You need to ensure they’re optimized as effectively as possible.
This involves a few things:
A content delivery network is one of the best ways to cut load times. It ensures that your users are served your website through a global distribution system, and they’ll always download data from a server that’s close to them. That will lead to lower latency, faster load times, and reduced page abandonment - all good things for you.
Last but certainly not least, patches have more uses than fixing the odd security risk. WordPress updates frequently include performance enhancements, bugfixes, and feature improvements. The same is true of updates to your theme and plugins.
Never put off an update if you can install it without breaking everything.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are plenty of other things you can do to keep your site quick on its feet, like optimizing your database or using excerpts on your posts. Think of this as a starting point - once you’ve done everything laid out here, you can move on to more complex stuff.