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The Need for Speed - Choosing the Right WordPress Design, Plugins and Hosting

VitaliyKolos Wordpress Apr 04, 2017

How do you make your site faster than Google's, faster than Amazon's?

Do you have $250,000 to spend on website design?

How about an in-house website designer at $100K per year? Your site needs to be faster than your competition's. Faster on mobile and quicker for desktop users too. But you don't have the budget of a small country to achieve that speed.

There are ways to make your website load faster. Some are free, others have a reasonable cost. When you are considering the cost/benefit ratio of any paid solution, think about the effect of just being one position higher in Google's search rankings. Think about the users who will stay onboard rather than click away in frustration at your site's slow loading speed.

There are three aspects of a WordPress site you can control:

1. WordPress Design

2. Plugins

3. Hosting

You also need a way to test your speed so you can see the effect of any changes you make.

GTMetrix is one site you can use. You get a report like the one below that tells you about anything that is slowing down your site's loading speed.

GTMetrix is free.

Run a test before you make any changes and then after each and every change, which will show the effect of adding one plugin or changing one aspect of your page design. If you can get a screen of green bars like the one above, you know you have achieved success.

WordPress Design

Everyone wants videos and beautiful high-resolution photos, and boy, do they look good, but they will kill your loading speed faster than kryptonite kills Superman. There are ways to reduce their negative impact, but it will always be there, so you must decide whether the positive effect on users is greater than the negative user effect caused by longer loading times.

  • Use an image editor to make all photos the exact size you need. Relying on WordPress to resize images means extra processing and will cause page slow-down
  • Use Smush to compress and optimize every image
  • Always put a valid source URL in the source attribute code, < img src=""> . Omitting to do this will cause a browser to search for a source, adding to the total page loading time
  • Plugins

    Use a plugin like W3Total cache to minify and optimize your source code. For the best results use one of these in association with a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

    Any way you can reduce bandwidth demands such as using a CDN plugin is especially beneficial to mobile users, who now represent the majority of Internet users.

    There are more mobile internet users than desktop internet users; 52.7% of global internet users access the internet via mobile, and 75.1% of U.S. internet users access the internet via mobile. Source - HostingFacts.com

    Almost every other plugin you install with make your site slower. Consider the user benefit vs. the speed cost of any plugin. Social media and related links plugins are ones you should be especially cautious about installing because of their frequent calls to social sites or your own server database respectively.

    One way around the need for plugins is to consult a designer about the possibility of a site with all the features you want without the need for 3rd-party plugins.

    Hosting

    Never choose your web hosting service on price alone. It is very easy for a company to use low-spec servers and to cut corners on customer service to reduce costs.

    The best way to choose is by looking at customer reviews. And that means the reviews you find on independent sites, not the ones highlighted in company ads.

    WordPress sites place particular demands on servers, with frequent calls to database entries, so a site that specializes in WordPress hosting will be a better option. Check out these WordPress hosting reviews, and you see that one company, Siteground, stands head and shoulders above the rest and you have to take notice when one web host has 904 overwhelmingly positive reviews.

    Your Decisions

    There are many free and low-cost ways to speed up your site. All will result in an improved user experience, which will lead to visitors staying longer on site, a lower bounce rate, more sales and a higher Google search ranking.

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