Is your site loading slowly? Most web hosts have optimizations in place to keep your site loading quickly. At Pressable, for example, we do our part by fine-tuning the things you can’t see. We implement techniques like memory caching, CDN, compression, and other server-side configurations to complement WordPress. With these things already taken care of, we can quickly narrow down most site performance issues to a few common impediments. Of those, a bloated, heavy site is among the most common issues contributing to site slowdown.
When your site is bloated, it takes more resources (bandwidth, CPU, memory) on both the client-side and server-side to load it. This translates into one of two things. It means your site is slow…or you’re overpaying for infrastructure to compensate. Either way it’s a bad situation to be in. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to slim down your site and make it faster.
Run a Speed Test
Speed tests make it easy to find the root causes of bloat on your WordPress site. Bloat typically boils down to few culprits (which are detailed below), and a reputable speed test helps you zero in on exactly which are affecting your site and which components are causing the problems.
Our friends at Multidots helped us develop our own speed test to help determine how fast your sites are loading. This gives us an accurate reading of how your sites are performing, and can also help determine what you need to do to improve speed.
Cut Down on External Resources
It’s important to make minimal use of external resources to keep your load time low. The most common examples of external resources that your site may require before loading include Google Fonts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram logos or APIs. Every time external resources like these need to be loaded an additional request is made to download them. This includes an additional DNS lookup. In the case of a CDN this is OK, but it’s best to keep the number of DNS lookups as low as one or two if possible. Information about external resources can be found in the Yslow section of the GTmetrix speed test results under “Reduce DNS lookups.”
Be Smart About Your Themes and Plugins
Plugins are a good thing, but not all plugins are created equal. Some plugins are an excellent tool for testing or for internal research, but can slow your site down by using valuable resources on a regular basis. Wordfence, for example, is an invaluable plugin that sniffs out and neutralizes malware. But Wordfence will periodically run automated malware scans on your site when configured with it’s default settings, potentially slowing down your site.
A good performance-minded practice would be to keep all of your themes and plugins up to date & only enable plugins like Wordfence when you want to tap into their functionality. If you are concerned that a plugin or a theme is causing your site to slow down, I recommend disabling plugins or changing themes to see what yields the best performance (because there is such a thing as too many plugins).
Check SQL Queries
A poorly written SQL query in a plugin or theme can dramatically affect site performance. By poorly written, I mean a SQL query that does not have enough parameters specified. If a query is written in this way, it may return the contents of an entire SQL table instead of just a few necessary columns and/or rows of data. Finding and eliminating these types of queries is crucial. Query Monitor is a critically acclaimed plugin that shows you how long each SQL query is taking to execute on your site, the path of the PHP file which is executing the SQL, and how many rows the query is returning. It’s invaluable in helping find the sources of poorly written SQL queries.
One note of caution needs to be mentioned, however. Query monitor happens to be one of the aforementioned plugins that are good for testing, but should be disabled when you aren’t using it for testing. It causes considerable site slowdown when active, so be judicious in your use of it.
We hope you find these suggestions useful. Just remember that these are not all hard and fast rules on how to trim the fat from your site. These are just a few guidelines that you can follow to get in the lean-site mindset. Less is more, especially when you can use fewer resources to deliver the same content faster. Want to learn more about how to improve your site? We have strategic partners for just that. From designers to developers and everything in between, you’re sure to find a team to get your job done right at Pressable.