Make no mistake about it, the speed at which your website loads will greatly determine whether you’re visitors stick around long enough to find out what you have to offer.
For better or worse, web users have little patience when it comes to accessing content and services. They demand instant access to their favourite websites, and if they don’t get it, that back button is only a swift click away. What’s more, once they’ve left, that one bad experience could well ensure they never return.
Still, there’s plenty we can do to optimise the performance of our websites and ensure those demanding visitors get what they want, as soon as they want it. With WordPress in particular, there’s a number of effective plugins you can put to work today in speeding up your site.
Here’s our top five.
Every post, every picture, every comment and every single item that you trash all gets stored in your WordPress database. If you’ve been using your site for a while, these things quickly build up and can have a detrimental impact on your site’s performance when said database starts taking longer to process all those countless drafts and revisions you never even published.
WP Optimize is a simple yet effective little tool that cleans everything up for you and optimizes your database to perform at its best.
Non-technical users needn’t worry. There’s no need to start digging around in the database itself. Access WP Optimize straight from your WordPress dashboard and manage everything from there.
The Total Cache WordPress plugin is an essential tool for your site that its developers claim will improve your performance tenfold.
By doing this, you’re guaranteed faster loading speeds, not to mention the reduced likelihood that a visitor will get fed up and flee.
You already know that including quality images in your blog posts can play a huge part in attracting visitors to your site, though what you may not know, is that if they’re not properly optimised, those same images could play just as big a role in driving them away again.
Indeed, uncompressed images require a fair amount of resources to load, resources that could be better put to use in bringing up your whole site much quicker.
Using the Smush.It WordPress plugin, you can compress and optimize your images appropriately, leading to faster loading times all round.
By no means the only plugin of its kind, we did find it to be one of the best in terms of reducing file sizes and increasing image performance by stripping out meta data and unused colours.
We love plugins, we wouldn’t be writing this post if we didn’t. No matter what kind of functionality we want to add to our WordPress websites, there’s a plugin of some kind available to help us do it.
Despite their unquestionable usefulness however, plugins themselves can cause slower website performance, particularly when we have a lot of them.
What’s the solution? Install another plugin of course!
P3 Profiler goes through your website, looking at all the plugins you have and analysing the effect they’re having on your site.
If one in particular is hogging more than its fair share of resources, you can take steps to do something about it, which brings us to our fifth and final WordPress plugin for speeding up your website.
When you’ve used P3 Profiler to identify troublesome plugins, your first thought may well be to replace them with something else, or even to remove them entirely.
But what if they’re really useful, and getting rid of them is the last thing you really want to do?
There is another option. It comes in the form of Plugin Organiser, which comes with several nifty features to help you keep your plugins whilst still improving performance.
The first is a tool which determines the order of which your plugins load. Since your comment section and social sharing plugins are often the last thing visitors will see when they read your post, you can schedule these to be the last things which load up, giving greater priority to those at the top of the page.
The other allows you to determine which pages load which plugins. By design, WordPress loads every plugin for every page, regardless as to whether its actually being put to use. With Plugin Organiser, you can instead opt to only have your event calendar load up on its own page, or to limit contact forms to just the contact page.
With these five free plugins, you can start enjoying better website performance in minutes, greatly reducing the chances that your visitors will head for the back-button before they’ve even seen your great content.