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7 steps to a faster WordPress

These seven WordPress tips came from the lecture on “Optimization and Performance” that I held on WordCamp 2015 in Norway, and it’s based on how Red Performance’s WordPress website got 3-4 times faster.

This article is slightly updated in 2019 to reflect new and better ways of optimizing your WordPress for Speed. A faster website can compensate for slow network connections.

1. Use a fast web hosting service

A web host should be as fast as possible, and placed as close as possible to the website users. For Norwegian pages, it means that the servers should be located in or close to Norway.

A site that’s moved to a Bolt on Servebolt.com often loads at least twice as fast. Check out our Managed WordPress plans.

2. Reduce your use of plugins

Use only the plugins that you really need. A lot of the features are just as easy to add to the WordPress theme instead of using plugins that add a lot of unnecessary code.

At Servebolt.com you can almost avoid using plugins that’s intended to improve performance entirely, because the server handles this for you.

See our article on how to make WooCommerce faster, most tips apply to WordPress too!

3. Use caching

The fastest full page caching is server based caching, like you get out of the box on servebolt by installing the Servebolt Optimizer plugin. The plugin enables full page caching in nginx, which is super fast.

You can also use plugins like W3 total cache or equivalent. They can make the delivery of the first HTML page more efficient, but is normally not working as good and fast as using server based caching.

4. Compress images

Images often represent more than 50 % of a website’s size, and the size can be reduced significantly by making sure to compress them before uploading them to the website.

Instead of doing the heavy lifting in WordPress, you can also implement delivery of various sizes using source set and the Image resizing feature in the Cloudflare Business plan.

If you want to compress images manually, this is a program that can reduce image size for you without compromising quality.

5. W3C-validation

For a site to work perform as well and fast as possible, W3C-validation is important. A site that validates, is faster than a site that doesn’t, for the simple reason that the browser doesn’t have to spend time figuring out what something is supposed to look like when it’s specified wrong.

6. Test the website on bad network connections

You can hope your site works well on mobile and bad networks, or you can control it and test to see how it works. On mac Network Link Conditioner  is a program that can simulate all speeds, and even simulate packet loss. 3G/Edge with 10-20 % packet loss is normal for many web users – how well does your site work then?

7. Use HTTP2 for webpages with a lot of resources

For e-commerce stores and other pages with lots of items on the page, HTTP/2  will provide secure communication between browser and web server, and in addition the page load speed may increase by 30-60 %!

We’d be happy to talk to you about improving the performance of your site! Get in touch 

Thomas Audunhus

Head of Product

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