20 years ago, mobiles barely had the capability of sending an email, let alone sending vast amounts of media and data instantly. To put it into perspective, Facebook didn’t even exist 20 years ago!!

10 years ago, the majority of websites were terrible to use on mobiles, we all remember the days where you had to pinch and zoom your phone in a number of ways to actually read the text on a website. Nowadays, responsive websites control the vast majority of the internet (if your website isn’t responsive, stop reading now, contact us, or check out our website page, as this article will be more or less pointless for you)

Since the development of responsive website design, the internet has seen a massive change in the way we use it, originally we used computers and laptops, now over 70% of all internet usage is on mobile and tablet devices.

With responsive websites being everywhere, the next major change in the industry is how fast your wordpress website speed is on devices. A fast website results in great customer experience, enhancing their chance of conversion on your website. However, in a recent study, the average website takes over 7 seconds to load!! With a world of mobile browsing, with quicker sessions on the internet, we expect to see content instantly, we all hate that white loading screen, and more often than not,we’ll click off, and go use a competitors website instead…

In this article, we’ll be looking at quick ways of increasing your wordpress website speed, which can result in a dramatic change in your websites conversion rate. 

Before you start reading, give your website a quick test online. Create an account for free on gtmetrix.com, as this is a great, independent tool to testing how fast your website loads. Create an account for free, so you can see your progress as you go! 

On gtmetrix, once you’ve created your account, make sure you’re testing from the “test server” closest to you, as this will give you the most accurate readings for your local market!

1.Enable compression

When someone lands on your website, the website server is instructed to deliver the relevant files to load your webpage, this is how a website loads.

Enabling compression is maybe one of the best ways to achieve a substantial reduction in the time it takes for your website to load fully. In essence, it simply reduces the size of the files in the website, smaller files equates to quicker loads (in principle…). 

GZIP compression can reduce the sizes of your page by up to 75%, dependant on the current state of your files, meaning a massive speed increase from little effort. 

With a simple copy and paste, you can enable GZIP compression on your website, resulting in a direct reduction in your websites load time. 

Check on GTmetrix if you have GZIP compression enabled, if not, get in touch, as it’s not the easiest thing to turn off for non devs!

2. Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

To put it simply, website code always has extensive quantities of unneeded spacing throughout it. Minifying CSS, JavaScript and HTML gets rid of this, by removing unneeded spacing that developers usually put in to make their jobs easier (we’re all guilty of this). Minifying these file types can give you a dramatic speed boost, reducing the file sizes by up to 20% in some cases. 

Most code also has comments in it, again, developers making their job easier by reminding them of what certain bits do, any good minification software will remove this code.

We recommend using WP Super Minify, as it does just that. If you are lucky enough to be using a Litespeed server, we recommend using the Litespeed Cache plugin, as it is far superior, but only works on a Litespeed Server

If you aren’t sure what server technology you’re using, check on builtwith.com, simply type in your website and see if ‘Litespeed’ is listed under “Web Servers”

If you aren’t on a Litespeed server, we would heavily recommend moving over to it. Configuring it correctly can result in large websites loading in under half a second, which is pretty good!  

3. Optimise images With Compression & Size Reduction

When we are asked “Can you look at my company site, it’s slow and takes forever to load” – (a question of which we get daily…) we often find images uploaded to the site in excess of 5000px wide. To put that into perspective, the average screen size is 1366×768 and the largest you really get is 1920px wide. We often see images around 5000px with a storage size of 8mb. Lets say you’re using 4G on your mobile, that’s going to take 2 or 3 seconds alone to load, forgetting everything else on your site, the code, the other images, scripts etc… 

There is a stupidly easy fix to this, it’s something called WP Smush, which is a free plugin you can download. WP Smush automatically optimises your images for speed, helping your page load. When installing, you can change the maximum image size, I’d recommend changing it to 1920px wide, but you can choose your own range.

All our hosting clients get the premium version of Smush, for free…

4. Get a better server

The internet is changing all the time, the demand for fast loading, content rich pages. Not many servers are able to make a wordpress website speed quick enough for users satisfaction. We recommend websites not taking longer than 2 seconds from when it’s requested (presuming they have a decent internet connection, and device to view it on), which the vast majority of websites don’t come close to.

Regardless of how your website is built, this can be done by following this article whilst using a good host. 

Think of hosting a bit like a car, you could have the most beautiful website in the internet, (lets call it a Lamborghini) – but if you have a little engine to make it move, it’s going to be a little bit embarressing, however this is the scenario with most websites.

Like car engines, there are loads of different hosting options available, all with different benefits suiting different needs. 

We heavily recommend using LightSpeed servers for WordPress based websites, because of their great plugin, LightSpeed cache. A properly configured setup in this can result in a website loading in under half a second. 

At Eastworks we use LightSpeed servers, and wouldn’t even consider using other technologies. If you’re unsure of your websites current hosting environment, get in touch with us or read more about this on our web hosting page. Our hosting comes with a load of premium plugins to aid the speed of your website, including Smush Pro, which gives massive gains on the free version mentioned above. Our hosting starts at less than a dominos pizza a month. 

5. Caching

Caching can make or break a website, literally. A misconfigured caching setup can result in a website not working properly, with contact forms not working, and it breaking on mobile – which isn’t a good position for any business…

Should you read point 4 above, you should move over to LightSpeed, as the caching process is so easy and effective to configure by even doing the basic settings. 

However if you’ve decided not to go with a LightSpeed based server (RECONSIDER!!!) there are some other great options including WP Super Minify. Look at the settings under “simple” unless you want to gamble breaking your website, in which case check out the Expert level settings, but be aware, this can break your website. 

In simple, you’ll see Minification, that’s a great start as it gets rid of all of the unwanted spaces lazy developers leave in code, making the website smaller and lighter, meaning it will go faster (in theory)

6. Browser caching

When you have people visit your website multiple times, a great way to make it load faster is to store parts of your website on their computer. This means next time then go onto your website, some of the files needed to load your website is already on their computer, so it loads faster. 

This can be done either in a technical or easy way, we’re going to show you the easy way, but for the technical version, contact us, we can help! 

So the easy way is download and setup this plugin – Leverage Browser Caching

7. Lazy load

Lazy loading is the way forward, and potentially the biggest way to make substantial increase in your wordpress website speed. Lazy loading in essence doesn’t load an image until the user scrolls to where the image is on the page. This means if they don’t scroll to sutch a point, it isn’t needed.

There are many plugins that can do this. If you have a LightSpeed server, it’s a setting under Media, and works brilliantly, just turn on the “responsive placeholder” option on the page further down, but if not, some great other options include;

Smush – It’s been mentioned above for image optimisation, but they have recently added a lazy load option in their settings, enabling this is a great way to improve load speed.

Native Lazyload – Google’s own plugin to do this, and if Google are making a WordPress plugin for this, you can see the definite value of doing this. 

8. Plugin audit

Plugin audits, plugins can load so much unneeded code. As developers, there is nothing more upsetting than seeing a website with 463,000 plugins, (apart from when they need updating)

Not only a security risk, but also a massive load speed factor. As a general rule, more plugins mean a higher load speed. Have a look through them, if they are active and you aren’t using them, simply delete them, all these little gains are essential to having a website load fast. 

We’ve mentioned multiple plugins above, however in our honest opinion, you only need LightSpeed cache with Smush Pro. That’s our setup for every client we host, as these two can easily do everything required. 

To Summarise

In conclusion, doing the above can make your wordpress website speed improve signifincantly. This will help you convert more visitors of your website to paid customers, growing your business. There is a lot of points to work on above, but if you can, do go through this, a faster website means more customers, something we would all love to experience!

If you would like a professional to do this for you, please feel free to get in touch, we even have a guarantee in place, that we can make any website faster. Every single website we have ever worked on has been made quicker, resulting in improved conversions.

WordPress website speed is something we automatically optimise for all of our hosting customers, alongside 247 monitoring of their website and emails. 

At this point, we should probably say by doing this on your own website, we don’t accept any liability for what happens if you break it. However, we can fix it if you do!!!! 

Taylor Fordham

Taylor Fordham

Taylor is Technical Director at Eastworks and to be frank, bit of geek when it comes to optimising websites for speed. He has a mad-keen passion for most things motorised and a lover of West Ham United.