Your website must load quickly for every user. If your website doesn’t load for users within a couple of seconds, they tend to abandon the session and will go looking elsewhere for what they need.
The online world is all about user experience. A good or bad user experience can dramatically change the outcomes of your online business.
We live in a busy world, so users’ attention spans are shorter. They need to be able to access information quickly. Optimising your website is time well spent, and you’ll start to see benefits from this quickly.
This guide will focus on optimising WordPress for a better user experience. 45% of websites use WordPress, and it has been a popular content management system (CMS) for decades.
Let’s get started.
Minimise the number of plugins you use
The great thing about WordPress is that there is a plugin for everything you could want your website to do. Surprisingly, your plugin folder can quickly become too full and bloated.
Plugins need to use your server resources to run. If you have a combination of plugins asking for available resources, it negatively affects the loading times.
It is best to hold regular audits on the plugins you have installed. Some may be there that are not in use but are still taking up resources.
Format and size image files correctly
It’s always tempting to take a photograph using your phone or download a high-resolution image and upload it to your website.
Mobile phone cameras have become so good that the file size and resolution of the images are far more than needed on your website. The larger the file, the more time it takes to load in the user’s browser.
It is common practice to use a piece of software, either on your phone or computer, to lower the size and resolution of your photographs. This process will ensure that they are optimised for your website and will not take up much load time.
There are many online services that you can optimise your images, and here is a list of some of them:
Caching your website files on the hosting server is a fantastic way to speed up your website. Caching stores copies of files in a folder, and from there, content can be accessed quicker.
A good caching plugin will combine all your content, code and scripts into the cache. At Clook, we prefer to use the lightning-fast LiteSpeed plugin LSCache. Our clients continue to be amazed at their websites’ performance boost LiteSpeed gives them.
Minify your code and scripts
Minifying code and scripts mean taking out all the line breaks and spaces within their files. It’s surprising how large code and script files can be, and reducing their size makes a big difference.
Most caching plugins (especially LiteSpeed) will automatically do this for you.
Keep a low content-to-code ratio.
Content-to-code ratio is the percentage of the actual content on a webpage. Code is the HTML that is the vehicle for being able to show the content. A higher Content-to-code (More content / less code) ratio provides a better user experience.
The less code to load in the browser, the better. Animated and overstyled content can fall foul of this. Fast loading content is more critical than transitions and fancy overstyled elements.
Choose a lightweight theme.
There are thousands of WordPress themes, and selecting one lightweight in code and scripts is essential. Many themes try to be flexible and have something for everyone, which means very weighty themes with lots of files and settings. The more the WordPress theme needs to load, the more it will take up resources.
Keep plugins & WordPress Core up to date.
The WordPress community and plugin developers are constantly refining, improving and releasing optimised versions of their plugins. Using older versions can mean they run slower and negatively impact your page load time.
It’s good practice to update the WordPress core and plugins regularly.
Choose a fast and reliable hosting provider.
You’ll be surprised at how much difference choosing the right hosting company will affect the performance of your website. Choose a hosting company optimised for running WordPress websites. Are their support team experienced and knowledgeable on WordPress?
Here at Clook we have hosted thousands of WordPress websites since 2002. We’ve geared our servers towards having the best environment to run WordPress. We’ve installed LiteSpeed on our servers, which works perfectly with WordPress. Our clients have always been impressed with the performance improvements they see when moving their WordPress websites to us.
We pride ourselves on the excellent client service and support we give. Anyone can set up a server and sell hosting. Access to fast, reliable help and support makes the difference between receiving a good and bad experience. We’ve formed a dedicated and friendly team of professionals, and we are here 24/7 and ready to help you.
Use a CDN for images and video.
A Content Delivery Network is a group of servers that are geographically distributed. Each server in the network works together to provide speedy content delivery. The CDN will look at your user’s location and provide them with content from servers closest to them.
There are many CDN suppliers, and most have a WordPress plugin to help you integrate it with your website.
We have used Cloudflare for a while now, and they have a handy plugin:
Reduce as many 3rd party resources in your theme (Google fonts/jQuery)
Many WordPress themes use 3rd party resources such as jQuery, Bootstrap and Google Fonts. These plugins tend to be the backbone of WordPress themes, and we aren’t recommending stopping using them.
Linking to them in your website header can slow down the whole process of your page loading. Where possible, it is best to download and host the resources on your server. It may also be possible to configure the resources only to upload the needed scripts instead of all of them.
Taking time to optimise your WordPress website will definitely pay off. These methods are non-exhaustive and should be explored in more depth. Speeding up your website will give your user a better experience and help leave them with a positive impression of your business.