If you’ve any knowledge of web design, then you’re probably aware of just how important it is to have good page load times on your site. When it comes to improving page load times and website performance, there’s a lot you can do, but sometimes, your optimisations are limited by the content management system you’re using.

Content management systems such as WordPress are as popular as ever, so it makes sense to dig a bit deeper and highlight some CMS-specific tips you can use to polish up your site.

Using plugins to make WordPress faster

A big part of WordPress’s appeal is the range of free and relatively easy-to-use plugins available for use, and the diverse customisation and functionality they provide.

You can use plugins together with other free tools as a way of making WordPress faster, boosting the speed of your site and giving your visitors a smoother overall experience.

The ultimate goal of making WordPress faster is to have happier users who are more likely to stick around, and potentially give you a higher spot in the Google rankings.

How to make WordPress websites load faster

There are numerous methods you can try, to speed up your WordPress site. Here are our top five favourite tips.

1. Optimise image size

One of the noticeable parts of any site, that can also have the biggest impact on speed, are its Images.

Images that aren’t properly optimised almost always negatively affect site performance. Compressing images is a simple way to speed up WordPress, since it has a direct effect on how quickly your site loads.

But optimising images yourself using editing software can take time and effort. The good news, however, is that, with WordPress plugins, you have access to a number of free tools that make the job a lot easier and provide extra benefits.

Below are some of our favourites:

  • WP Smush is seen as the leader of image optimisation plugins, which makes it a great plugin for making your WordPress site faster. It performs lossless compression by trimming unnecessary data from images, and also includes other features such as ‘Lazy Loader’, which means images only appear as the user scrolls to them.
  • As a speed up WordPress plugin, Imagify makes it easier to keep your images smaller, as it automatically optimises them as you upload them to your site. It also has three different levels of compression for you to choose from, so you can decide how much quality is lost.
  • ShortPixelis another handy WordPress plugin, capable of updating all of your previous images and any new ones to the file type that results in the smallest size. This method results in little or no loss in image quality, while making WordPress faster.

2. Minimise CSS and JavaScript

Another effective way of speeding up a WordPress site is to reduce the amount the CSS code and JavaScript, by removing blank space and unrequired instructions. You could even condense multiple files to decrease the number of HTTP requests made by your site.

Tools useful as a speed up WordPress plugin include:

  • Autoptimize gives you a range of different small optimisations, including compressing CSS code and HTML and optimising Google Fonts. Its API is great at letting you customise the plugin to your liking.
  • Fast Velocity Minify improves site speed by merging CSS code and JavaScript files into groups, while using as few files as possible. This plugin also includes options for developers and advanced users to tailor their experience and perfect their site’s load times.

3. Use caching to reduce load times

When deciding how to make a WordPress website load faster, the use of caching is a must.

WordPress retrieves database content every time a page is viewed – a process which is a big contributor to overall loading times. Caching plugins enable you to create a static version of your site, to make loading much faster by minimising the need to fully retrieve the database.

Here are some great plugins to enable this:

  • Cache Enabler is able to work with other plugins, such as the previously mentioned Autoptimize, to efficiently cache pages and store them on the server. This means it delivers only the static page to avoid resource-hungry backend processes.
  • Comet Cache can be configured to your needs and works by recognising when a cached page should be shown to users. For example, if the user is not logged in.
  • Simple Cache is a lightweight caching plugin geared towards non-technical users. It’s easy to enable and disable and contains minimal settings to avoid complicating the process.

4. Clear out your database

The bigger your database, the longer it takes queries to get back to the user. WordPress sites often have automatic backups which save unwanted items, such as drafts, spam, and deleted posts, alongside useful information in the database.

This means you should give your database a regular clear-out, to make sure you’re not backing up unnecessary data. This can be done manually or with the help of handy plugins like these:

  • Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions will automatically delete redundant posts, pages, and other unnecessary items before they’re saved.
  • WP-Optimize is an ‘extensive WordPress database clean-up tool’ that can clean and optimise database tables without using phpMyAdmin.
  • Advanced Database Cleaner is another option for cleaning up old revisions and drafts. It also has a premium version which contains more advanced features, making the process even easier for professional users.

5. Cut down on plugins

It’s ironic, we know, but as handy as all these plugins are, if you’re trying to work out how to speed up a WordPress site, too many can end up adding to the overall bloat.

Specifically, though, we’re talking about plugins that are rarely used or not particularly relevant, adding little if anything to your site’s functionality; too many plugins and your website will give users a more sluggish experience, so it’s worth confirming which ones are actually pulling their weight.

It may even be the case that there are more lightweight alternatives to plugins you already have. By weeding out the WordPress plugins you don’t need or use, you can make your site, lean, mean, and fighting fit for any eventuality.

Now you know how to speed up a WordPress site, you’ll need reliable and high-performance hosting to ensure it always loads quickly for your visitors and potential customers.

Our WordPress Hosting packages let you instantly set up your WordPress install, ready for any plugins you might want. They even feature smart SSD storage and dynamic load balancing to guarantee the best possible user experience.

We also offer our very own Website Builder and Ecommerce Website Builder, each of which are completely customisable. Or for even more expert insight and in-depth articles like this, check out the Fasthosts blog.