How I sped up my WordPress loading time from 40 to 4 seconds
A lot of people tend to click away when your site takes too long to load. The general loading speed for a web page is about 8 seconds, but most people click away long before that! A fast loading site is crucial to keep you audience on your site.
Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about computers and certainly not about all the terms like CDN and Gzip compression. But I still sped up my website by 400% without knowing any of this.
In the beginning of this year, my site became extremely slow. The fastest loading time was 40 seconds, but it could easily take up to a minute.
When I went googling, I stepped into a world full of new and weird terms that mostly just got me more stressed and confused. However, I still solved this problem easily and without any prior knowledge so let me help you do the same!
If your site’s loading speed is low it can have a number of reasons;
- Slow theme; mostly if you have very heavy themes with sliders and such. If you are working with a child theme or any standard theme this should not be a problem
- Plugins; Plugins can slow your site drastically, the more plugins you have the bigger chance your site will be slow down by them.
- Images; If you have a heavy image based site and you didn’t resize your images for their use or they are very big (more than 1 MB) Then this might be your problem.
To analyze page speed I did not use the google PageSpeed analyzer because at one point my site was so slow that google couldn’t even do analyze it.
I used GTmetrix which is great because they analyze from a separate server and they give very detailed reports.
Make sure you check the drop down buttons for every score. Even if it says nothing to you, the URLs can give you a clue as to what is slowing your site down. Especially the /wp-content/plugins/plugin ones show you which plugins are slowing things down
- Speed can vary for every test, in the beginning, my site could take everywhere from 40 to 60 seconds of loading time. This can be because of traffic or servers. Do multiple tests to make sure the time you are getting is reliable and slightly constant.
If you are quite a certain the problem is in your theme you can try one of the basic WordPress themes like twenty fifteen. If that solves the problem, you can be almost 100% sure it was the theme you were using.
You don’t have to keep using the basic theme of course. You can try some other themes and do speed tests for every on of them.
Always save in the size that you need. You can easily do a google search for the width of your theme’s text or featured images. This can cut down on loading time big time.
Another favorite is the lazy loading plugin that allows the page to load before the images so it speeds up the progress. On pages that you don’t want this your can just toggle it off.
And thirdly always save as a jpg. I used to save mine as png, something I was used to as a digital artist when you don’t want any information to get lost. But for your blog, this will just create unnecessary big images with sometimes in my case images over 1 MB of information.
For me, it turned out that plugins were the main problem. If you think you might have the same problem you can use a plugin analyzer to check which plugin is increasing your loading time.
(Beware; plugins like Jetpack give higher values because it takes longer to load in your browser as admin, but not necessarily for the user. If you still think this might be the problem you can try to reinstall and see if it fixes the problem. If it does try deactivating all the options you don’t use to make the plugin lighter.)
Like I mentioned before you can use a plugin analyzer to try and find the problem but if this doesn’t work you have to get hustling. On my site, I turned off all the plugins at once and did a speed analyzing test showing only 1 second of loading time. This to me was insane, my blog hadn’t loaded that fast anymore since it had been empty.
From there on I started doing a speed test for every plugin that I added. I started with the ones I deemed most necessary and went from there.
Something I really thought about was that there were a lot of things that didn’t need a plugin but could be done in HTML and CSS. I just needed to do a little research. So I scrapped things like contact forms and featured posts plugins for sidebars. I can do that all in code and make it faster to load.
Some plugins I had to speed up my site actually slowed the whole thing down so be careful with what you add!
Plugins to solve problems.
If you find problems that are more complex and you can’t solve in the code yourself you can always try a plugin for the problem. Just make sure the plugin doesn’t make the site even slower.
My site was slow because the lack of Gzip compression. The plugin I downloaded was Gzip-Ninja and it sped up my website from 9 to 6 seconds.
I have no idea what Gzip compression is or how I should have ever solved it by myself but by installing the plugin in I don’t have too.
Another one I am faithful to is WP smush. Since installing it I have had almost negative scores for big images at all.
Of course, if you optimized your entire site and it still has a long loading time the problem could be in your hosting. Try contacting your host or switch hosting.
That wraps up everything I did and know about speeding up your WordPress site. I know there are a lot of posts and resources out there but I wanted to write something from one computer noob to another so you know you can do this too without professional help.
The lesson I learned is that you should not give up when you site is super slow. It can take some work but in the end, you can speed up your site as well.
And again, this is super important with people clicking away all the time.
Did you have problems with slow sites before? How did you solve it?1