In today's world, not many people have the patience to wait 5 seconds for a web page to load. If you hope to provide your visitors with a great user experience, so you can optimize conversion and ultimately sell more, it’s vital that your website loads fast enough.
But before any speed and optimization improvements, you need to dig deeper into what's causing your website to lag. Here’s a look at four of the main factors that influence your WordPress site’s performance, along with some optimization suggestions.
Reason 1: clogged up database
Using plugins can gradually lead to a bloated database. And because the database isn’t optimized for storing lots of data, it might take longer to query the database. As WordPress developer and Codeable expert Justin Frydman explains:
Depending on the plugins you're using, some could be storing a great deal of data or leave behind empty rows. This makes the database bigger and as a result, queries begin to take longer to perform. The more records in the database, the longer it takes to get that data out, especially with unoptimized queries.
Generally speaking, a lot of plugins will pollute the database. This is in addition to the data that most plugins leave behind when deleted. Luckily, there are some useful tools that can help you clean up that mess. A good example is Plugins Garbage Collector, which basically helps you identify and remove the leftover data from deleted plugins.
When using tools like the one mentioned above or any that make changes to your database, ALWAYS make sure you have taken a database backup, and have the know-how to properly restore it without issues if needed. You can't be too safe with taking backups before performing any database cleaning.
Since it may be difficult to know which plugins overload and slow down your database, Justin also suggests performing routine checkups:
It's difficult for a nontechnical person to know which plugins are slow or bloated. It requires investigation via a number of tools and digging directly in the database. Once you identify a problematic plugin, you can look around for lighter weight alternatives, or try to clean up the mess it makes.
Reason 2: server capabilities
As you do your checkups, you may discover the problem has little or nothing to with your plugins. For example, if you’re getting more traffic than usual, it could simply be that your server is unable to handle the load gracefully. The only solution, in this case, is to upgrade to a better server, which ultimately means changing your hosting provider. Justin asks:
What if your site has grown in traffic and the solution that's in place right now is just not able to handle it?
The issue of insufficient server resources happens to be quite common and is, in fact, the main reason why many websites are so slow to load. Finding out if your hosting solution is no longer a good fit for your site and your business is a non-optional thing you want to mark off your important things to do list.
Reason 3: images
Having the right numbers of pictures, photos featuring your products, and any other visual assets are key elements to your business. The right product image can directly boost your sales numbers, while a pixelated one can scare way your prospects. Same thing can be said on a broader view: even if you're not selling anything directly from your website, relying on small, less-than-appealing visual elements, will make you look unprofessional and your branding efforts diluted.
As with other assets pertaining to your website, imagery and visual elements are ultimately a business asset. Therefore, you need to question them:
The thing we see clients doing a lot at Codeable is they put a slider on their homepage. That's fine, but then they put 15 images in there. Why? First of all, no one's going to look through all those images. Secondly, those elements are loading in the background and are adding to how long your site takes to load for no clear business case.
Having too many images on your pages will obviously slow things down. Specifically, you have to decide whether that slider or photo gallery should feature all images at your disposal or just have the best ones being featured. Ask yourself: is this image/visual element helping my business in any way?
Reason 4: third-party scripts
In life, once a service or technology or app is heavily adopted, we usually tend to think we need to use it as well or we'd be missing out on something (we have no idea of). Same thing happens with websites: think of Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Google AdWords code, SumoMe, and so on. We add them to our websites (or hire someone to do it for us) before knowing how they will affect our website's performances.
As Justin suggests:
It's about questioning each and every element that is included in your website. When it comes to checking on third-party scripts the question is: 'Is it bringing any value to your business? Does your business really need it?'
Having many of these third-party scripts can heavily affect your website's performances. If they're providing you with value, like tracking your visitors, for example, it's worth having a developer focus their time finding a solution with that. On the other hand, if these scripts aren't beneficial in any possible way, you'd want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
A developer can help you more easily determine which external scripts are critical and which ones are the slow resource hogs holding up the loading of a website.
Having a website that loads fast is essential to the success of your business, you know that. Always remember what the goal is: providing your users with the best possible experience and a smooth buying process. And all starts with pages loading blazingly fast.
So, if your site takes forever to load, how will they ever buy from you when they're already gone?
Justin Frydman is a top-rated WordPress expert constantly delivering quality projects of all different types for clients on Codeable. A specialist with WordPress site speed optimization, Justin understands the value of what a faster website can do for a business and truly enjoys the work of testing and optimizing to produce the best end result possible.