six-surefire-ways-of-speeding-up-your-wordpress-blog-todayWebsite speed is a major part of the conversion equation, since the majority of people expect a website to load within three seconds or less, and we know site speed plays a role in search engine rankings. If your WordPress site is a little sluggish, fear not – as these six tips can help you light a fire.

Opt for a Lighter Theme

The fact of the matter is that no two WordPress themes are created equally. When the content is stellar, you have something, but if that stellar content is built upon a poor infrastructure, you’re stabbing yourself in the foot. Look closely at the WordPress themes you choose, to be sure they are coded for speed, and don’t neglect responsive design. Responsive design allows the website to automatically adjust for any screen resolution, which is critical for user experience on mobile and tablet devices. Many newer themes include this as a feature.

Deploy a Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network, or CDN, hosts multiple copies of your website content (including images, stylesheets, scripts and design elements) on servers all over the globe, and sends it to the end user from the server closest to them. This reduces the distance between host and client, thus reducing load time. You can deploy a CDN on top of your existing WordPress web hosting infrastructure. It’s incredibly easy to setup and use, too.

Optimize Your Images

Images are resource heavy, if not displayed in the correct size and format. There are a variety of tools online that can help you do this, but managing all the images and making sure quality isn’t compromised can be time consuming. As it’s not a good idea to load down your WordPress installation with too many plugins, WP-Smush uses Yahoo’s image optimizer tool, and automates the process for you. Images are automatically optimized during the upload.

Choose Excerpts Instead of Full Posts

This, along with limiting the number of posts displayed on the homepage of your website, will dramatically improve speed. Since the full post doesn’t have to load right away, users still get to see a snippet of content, and then can click to choose to read the full post if they want to.

pagespeed-insightsScreenshot via PageSpeed Insights

Use Tools to Find Weak Points

Even seasoned WordPress designers and developers can’t always know where all the weak points are, so it helps to have tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights on hand. Simply plug the URL of the page you’re working on, and the tool will quickly and easily identify all the possible points causing the load time to slow down.

Use a Caching Plugin

If you’ve done all the other things on this list, and still need to boost your speed, take a look at W3 Total Cache. It’s free, and one of the best caching options out there. It caches things in the browser, helps minify the code, and provides support for your CDN. The caching helps to increase server performance and reduce download times for a better user experience.

A faster website means a better user experience. When users don’t have to wait as long to find what they’re looking for, they are much more likely to convert. A one second delay in page load time can cause conversion rates to decrease by 7%, costing a business that earns $100,000 a day $2.5 million over the course of a year.

As WordPress designers and developers, it’s easy to build a website, set it, and forget it. Do yourself a favor and take time to check your load times on all your websites, and websites you’re running for clients. You may find they’ve slowed down over time, and need a bit of sprucing up. Every day you put it off, you and your clients could be losing customers.