WordPress is the world’s most well-known website creation platform. It’s become a true favorite among both amateurs and professionals, for good reason. The wide selection of templates, themes, designs, and accessibility options make it an appealing choice if you want to break into the ever-evolving world of web design.
What really sets WordPress apart from its main competitors is the wide range of tools and extensions that are available, all of which are powerful and cost-effective.
Speed and accessibility drive today’s website landscape. These are areas where WordPress shines among other platforms. It’s why its tools remain the industry standard for creating a site that’s user friendly and optimized for screen size, as well as fast loading. Plus, it provides wide scope for creative experimentation.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or brand new and just starting out in the exciting world of WordPress, check out these 8 easy methods of optimizing your website using WordPress tools. You won’t need anything more than the tools available through the WordPress dashboard.
Choosing A WordPress Caching Plugin
All pages created in WordPress are “dynamic”, meaning that they load in real time whenever a visitor clicks on that page for the first time.
Whenever the page loads, WordPress will start running a series of various processes to display the necessary information to the user. The steps involved here often mean that a page might be slow to load at first. Any webmaster will tell you that the longer a page takes the load, the higher the chances of a visitor simply clicking away. And no one wants users to leave their site due to slow loading times.
One way to circumvent these slow loading times is by making use of a caching plugin. These plugins can make a site load up to 5 times faster. However, their efficiency depends on how many elements are sourced whenever the page gets a hit.
The plugin makes a clone of the page after the first load is complete. It will then save the cached version to anyone new visiting the page.
Right now, some of the most-recommended cache plugins include such tools as WP Super Cache and WP Rocket. The former is free to use, while WP Rocket is part of the premium plan.
Speeding Up Background Processes
All the tasks completed when a page loads are scheduled processes that the user isn’t aware are happening in the background. These include plugin tasks, cron jobs for scheduled posts and updates, as well as search engine crawlers for fetching necessary content. The cron jobs don’t take up too many resources, and they’re unlikely to cause any performance degradation when the site is loading.
Yet this isn’t the case for other plugins, such as those that handle backups or search engine crawling. The WordPress backup plugin is a must-have for anyone who wants to safeguard their site against permanent loss.
It’s best to only back the site up when traffic is low. So, it may be necessary to take the time to adjust the frequency of the backups to not affect loading times for visitors. When focusing on search engine crawling, it’s worth learning how best to optimize the Google Search console. Doing this can have a noticeable effect on overall loading speeds.
WordPress Tools For Optimizing SEO
At its most basic, Search Engine Optimization is how easily someone can find your website on Google when looking for a specific term, product, or phrase.
To ensure people can find you online, it’s vital that you have a solid SEO strategy. There are two popular plugins that give your SERP a boost. These are Yoast SEO and All In One SEO.
All In One SEO is the original SEO optimization tool offered by WordPress. Over 2 million sites online currently make use of this tool. In contrast, Yoast SEO is a publicly free extension maintained by independent developers. While it’s not as popular as AIOSEO, it still remains a solid choice for newcomers.
Regardless, it’s highly recommended to opt for AIOSEO. It’s easy to work with and it’s optimized to function best with Google’s search engine. It also features an assortment of tweaks and features to improve the SEO of your site quickly and efficiently.
How To Boost Image Optimization Using WordPress Tools
No modern website is complete without high-quality content, whether that comes in the form of images, video, or audio.
Imagery tends to be the most important of the three. Research shows that people are up to 80% more likely to remain on a page that displays colorful, appealing images. It might be tempting to stick as many images on your pages as possible. But the more images you add, the more the site has to load for each visitor. Plus, the longer they need to spend waiting for that page to load properly.
Optimizing images is absolutely imperative to maintaining the longevity of your site. It’s a crucial element you must implement to maximize visitor retention. Especially when you consider that you’re competing against an almost endless procession of similar sites.
It’s industry best-practice to always manipulate the images you want before uploading them onto a page. Images in their original formats straight off of a phone or camera tend to be extremely large. This means that you will need to take the time to compress them before uploading. But it will be time well spent.
One plugin that’s grown in popularity in recent years is EWWW Image Optimizer, which offers both lossless and lossy image compression. Some of the image formats that EWWW Image Optimizer work with include JPG, PNG, PDF, and GIF.
Another popular choice is reSmush.it. This plugin automatically optimizes any images uploaded and boosts performance if you’re adding a bulk assortment of older images.
No image is quite the same. Each one will offer a different result depending on the quality and the compression and optimization tool used when uploading it to the site.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Theme
When it comes to pre-configured themes, there are few platforms that offer as wide a selection as WordPress. Many of these themes are available for free from the community and WordPress themselves. However, it’s important to remember that while a theme might be visually appealing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the creator took the time to optimize it when they created it.
Fortunately, theme optimization is another aspect of the creation process that you can tweak to your liking. When choosing a new theme, it’s usually better to choose one that’s simple and easy to navigate. Begin by building on top of that through your own customization, then add the plugins that you feel provide the most support and optimization for your site.
WordPress also offers a choice of theme shops, including CSSIgniter and Themify as part of their premium package, all of which are designed with maximum speed in mind.
Integrating A Content Delivery Network
In terms of how quickly a page loads from click to full usability, a visitor’s experience may differ depending on where in the world they’re located. This is because of the physical location of the server that’s hosting the site. If you’re further away from that specific server, you can expect slower loading times when compared to a visitor that’s situated nearer to it.
This is where content delivery networks (CDN) come into play. These networks can help optimize loading for anyone visiting the site, regardless of their geographical location.
One popular CDN service is Cloudflare, which is best utilized for smaller sites centered around blogging or upcoming businesses. Google also offers its own CDN service. It’s up to the webmaster to take the time to learn where their traffic is coming from, and which CDN best serves those visiting the site.
Keep in mind that while it may not be a concern for most users, Cloudflare’s CDN offers a stronger level of privacy when compared to the one offered by Google. This is something that some visitors might find more appealing.
Lazy Loading For Improved Page Speeds
If your site features plenty of images, galleries, video embeds, and other types of multimedia, speed is a major concern. You’ll most likely find that the site may battle to load up at any decent speed when a new visitor is checking it out for the first time.
If you’re not able to slim down your multimedia without lowering the quality of the site, using lazy loading might offer some speed benefits. Here, rather than loading all the videos and images at a single time, lazy loading only downloads those visible to the visitor as they’re scrolling through the page. A placeholder will show for multimedia that’s not in use, but it can extend to gravatars and WordPress comments too.
The recommended plugin for lazy loading is Lazy Load, made by the WP Rocket plugin team. Although you should keep in mind that this plugin might need some tweaking before it will lazy load content other than basic images.
Experiment With Various Speed Plugins
WordPress is one of the oldest website creation platforms on the web. Because of this, many of the more popular plugins use poorly implemented and messy coding. This means that using them might add unnecessary bloat to your site, inadvertently causing it to slow down.
When looking to optimize speed, you’ll want to opt for plugins that make use of clean code. This reduces how much is necessary for a site visitor to load when they’re visiting from a link or search result.
The choice is virtually endless, but there are some exceptions that you should consider when adding a new plugin. Here, experimentation is key. Your site’s content is unique, and it’s imperative that you try out the various plugins on offer, and then choose one that best suits your needs.
For contact forms—functionality that most experts advise in having—WPForms is arguably the best on the market right now. It’s powerful, offers a wide range of capabilities, and doesn’t take too much technical knowledge to implement properly.
If you need to have a gallery on your site, a popular choice is the Envira Gallery plugin. This plugin offers a huge speed increase as opposed to the native gallery option that’s offered by WordPress. When it comes to social media connectivity, Shared Counts is among the best tools available for social media integration, offering a fine balance between usability and performance.
Stay Ahead Of The Pack
If you’re fighting for user attention in today’s fast-paced digital world, page loading speed can make all the difference.
The average website user has a short attention span. In fact, it’s believed that a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load will cause most visitors to click away. The only way to push ahead of the competition is to ensure your site loads quickly, offers its contents at lightning speeds, provides first-class navigation and security, and runs well on all types of desktop computers and mobile devices.
The number of tools available on WordPress are almost endless, adding to its benefits. It’s up to you to take the time to experiment with what’s on offer until your site offers decent loading speeds without compromising on quality.
As long as you’re backing up your site regularly and can roll back to a previous version if disaster strikes, don’t be afraid to play with the tools that WordPress offers. As a general rule, it’s best to try to make use of a native WordPress plugin wherever possible.
If it doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of free, public-made plugins that might cover what you need. But the WordPress team has consistently proven how versatile and usable their native plugins really are.
Need help with your WordPress website? Check out our WordPress website design services and give us a call. We would be honored to work for you!