One of the quickest ways to get a new site up and running is by using WordPress. And why not? There are several free plugins available for you to use and you can buy themes with in-built functionality. The best bit though, is probably the fact that your clients would still be able to easily manage content and perform quick changes on their site after you’ve handed over using a standard Content Management System (CMS).
One of the major down-sides of WordPress (other than possible security risks) is speed. Having a standard WordPress on shared hosting can lead to very slow response-time, especially during peak hours, when your clients would actually be looking at your site.
There are some things you can do, even through simple WordPress Plugins.
Enable GZip Compression
When you’re about to send files over email, sometimes you would use WinZip or WinRAR to compress the attached files to end up with smaller attachments. GZip works similarly on files containing text (mainly code) that you serve on your site. Reducing the size of these files, results in quicker load times, especially over low bandwidth connections such as mobile data.
Minifying content removes unnecessary spaces and characters from your code, reducing the file size and effectively improving speed. Combining files provides a different advantage however. An additional HTTP request is required for every file, hence combining several files into one reduces the amount of requests required, and improved the load time of your pages.
Enable Browser Caching
Some files on your website very rarely change. Do you need your users to download all the files every time they switch a page on your site? The answer is obviously no, and the solution is to instruct our users (through response headers) to store specific files (cache) for a specific period of time. When these files are required, they are taken out of the browser cache instead of being requested over the internet, also improving speed.
This is a feature which is mainly overlooked by designers. Optimizing images requires a slight compromise in image quality, in order to reduce the file size of images on your page. This process can turn your 1MB image into a 100KB image, significantly improving performance with barely noticeable visual difference.
The screenshot below is from GTmetrix, for a slightly-optimized WordPress site hosted on Vidahost, with standard shared hosting. Before performing optimization (using some WordPress plugins), the YSlow Score was even lower, at 59%. Is it all a lost cause, or is there a better way of going about this?
Thankfully, there is. What I’ve found that works best is buying a Virtual Private Server (VPS) as a service, and hosting WordPress on your own web server. This ensures that you are not sharing processing power with other sites, and enables you to perform clever optimization techniques. This process would require quite a bit of technical work, however, once it’s all set the difference in performance is astounding.
The screenshot above, shows a GTmetrix report for this site, ActualScripts.com, which is hosted on a VPS provided by OVH.
Do you want us to have a look at how we can make your site faster? Get in touch for a free consultation!