Slow websites are bad for business, bad for your brand, and annoying for everyone. WordPress is a super-charged website content management system that makes building crazy cool websites accessible for everyone. But unfortunately, all that power is also really easy to misuse and end up with a site that looks great on the outside but is really, really slow. Is your WordPress site slow? Is your administration dashboard slow? We’ll deal with both of those issues in this post.
Testing Your Site Speed
There are a few different factors that can throw off your own ability to see how fast your site loads under user conditions. First, keep in mind that not everyone has the exact internet connection that you have. If you have a really fast connection it may inflate your sense of the speed of your site. If you have a really slow connection, it may exaggerate the extent of the problem. Additionally, if you’re using a common browser like Google, you may find that sites that you visit often will load really quickly because of cached versions of the site that Google can draw on. Visiting your own site might load really quickly because your own computer has a stored version of resources that the site needs. Basically, you need an objective third party in order to test how fast your site is when all things are equal.
There are a lot of websites that you can plug your website into and receive some metrics about it, but few places will be as helpful as Google PageSpeed. Google’s PageSpeed insights, on the developer site of Google, is a place that you can test the speed of your site according to a bunch of different metrics. It can be a great place to figure out exactly where your weaknesses are.
Reasons Your WordPress Website Might be Slow
Yep, this is on every list of reasons that any website might be slow. It doesn’t matter how optimized your WordPress site is if you don’t have a good hosting plan. You can compare hosting plans with our free hosting tool, which should show you exactly what you need to run your site in a much better way! Forget about optimizing code and deleting plugins if you have a bad host.
Too Much Traffic
Even if you have a super good host, you might not have a big enough hosting plan to handle all the requests that your site is getting. If things were running smoothly a while ago and you’ve noticed that traffic has increased and speed has decreased, then it might be time to handle traffic by upgrading your hosting plan. Another plan you might want to use is a CDN, or content delivery network, which allows you to handle traffic a little better by using cached versions of your site in strategically located places.
Heavy Themes and Plugins
One of the easiest ways to slow down your site as an aspiring WordPress developer is to install a super big theme and a ton of plugins that you don’t need. To the WordPress beginner, putting themes and plugins together looks like a lot of fun. It looks like you can install tons of cool stuff, and after all, it’s all free! But while many themes and plugins don’t cost you money, they can cost you in speed. The bigger your graphics packages and the more plugins you have, the more power you’re sapping from the raw loading times.
There are a lot of ways to code a website so that it works but not well. Just because your site loads and looks exactly the way that you wanted it to look doesn’t mean that you’re getting there efficiently. There are a lot of ways to reach the same destination, and they are not all equally quick and efficient. When browsers have to run external scripts or call databases before they actually finish loading the elements of the page, it may have to load and reload. Sometimes when a social media widget needs to load it will slow down the other parts of the site from loading.
In addition to the HTML, there is CSS (cascading style sheets) which run parts of the graphics of the site. These files can be really complicated and long, and so using simpler CSS or a simpler theme can speed up the loading of the site.
Bad Media Packages
If you put files, like images, sound, or even video files, into your website it will take a long time for those pages to load. Rarely is it worth it for you to actually put these files into your site. The best thing that you can do with sound and video files is to embed them, which means that they get called from other locations and don’t strain your site by loading the file in full when a user visits the page. If the user clicks on the resource, then the object is loaded. Frontloading heavy media is a great way to strain your site and slow everything down.
Reasons Your WordPress Administration Dashboard Might be Slow
Yes, plugins can drastically slow down your WordPress site, but they can also slow down the admin dashboard itself. Your dashboard has to load those plugins both and carry the data around when you navigate through different things. The more plugins that have to operate on a single page or section of your site, the heavier things are and the slower everything will run. Delete plugins that you don’t use! And don’t go overboard on plugins simply because you can. Prioritize remaining lightweight with your site, and not grabbing up flashy new plugins.
Upgrade PHP and WordPress
The PHP, or basically operating instructions for WordPress, is something that can be updated every once in a while. PHP updates often speed up your dashboard. Updating your WordPress software and dashboard itself will also speed things up. Don’t fall behind on updates! There’s more at stake than just security, as older versions of the site can be significantly slower.
Clean Your Database
Having a database that is stuffed with information doesn’t just mean that your WordPress website slows down a little bit, it can also mean that your backend dashboard administration can be a bit slower. Whenever WordPress needs to find things for your administration view within the database, it may have to sort through a bunch of stuff. Especially if you’ve had WordPress for a while, things can pile up that are no longer needed. Try cleaning out the system through WordPress’s database cleaning function in the administrative tools,
Delete Some Themes and Plugins
Even when you aren’t using a theme, the theme has a bunch of settings and information that is stored within WordPress on the administration side. These settings, for both themes and plugins, can slow down the total experience on the administration end. Don’t simply disable plugins if you really won’t be using them anymore. Instead, make sure the plugin is completely deleted from WordPress.
Clean Your Computer
Finally, keep in mind that the speed of your own computer can affect the speed that WordPress runs at on the administration side. Most computers have cleaning and security programs that you can run to prevent things from stacking up.
Clean your browser history and cookies to make it a little bit lighter on that end. As you start using your browser more and more, it accumulates caches, cookies, and search history. In order to prevent your websites from running a lot slower–including WordPress administration–you should clear these things from time to time. On your computer itself, one of the things that you can do is to clear files that you aren’t using anymore. Additionally, you may have collected a bunch of apps and background processes that you don’t even know are stealing CPU off the top! Open your control center to see CPU usage. You can even end processes that you don’t want running so that you have a little more speed for your dashboard.
Change Your Theme
There are tons of WordPress themes that look super cool and yet are simple enough to keep your website running super fast. But not every theme that you can download is lightning in a bottle. While many themes start fast, if they aren’t well coded, errors, cracks, and bugs can rack up on the backend as you build out your site. If things are running slow and none of the other suggestions are making things faster then you might be at the mercy of a theme that is not optimized. From this position, you may have to switch back to the default theme and head in a new aesthetic direction. While this might be a huge bummer and a ton of work, sometimes it’s the only solution for a bad theme that has taken over your site.