Top 6 Tips to improve WordPress load time and speed

Top 6 Tips to improve WordPress load time and speed

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How to improve the performance of your WordPress blog is an often asked and discussed question. Depending on your exact circumstances, there are hundreds of right answers. In this post, I’ll share my top 6 tips to improve WordPress load time and speed based on the experience I have made with my blog. I will also point out areas that still need improvement.

Hosting

One of the most important factors on performance is your hosting provider. If you host your blog on a server that shares its memory and CPU cycles with 10,000 others websites, don’t expect great results. That was one of the reasons, why I moved my blog from Bluehost to Flywheel. Of course, you have to balance income vs. expenses. I don’t blog for a living, and my goal is to not spend more money on it than what I earn through ads and affiliate programs. As you can see in the screenshot below, I’m already over the soft-limit of what my Flywheel plan offers, regarding visitor count and storage utilization. By moving up to a bigger plan, which comes with more resources (CPU cycles, memory), my blog would probably perform better, but it would cost much more than what I’m currently paying.

WordPress performance
Flywheel statistics

WordPress Theme

The choice of theme, how it’s coded and how it uses JavaScript and CSS are also important factors. In many cases, the simpler the theme, the better it performs. I have been working with Pageslines for the past couple of years, and I’m genuinely impressed by its latest offering Pagelines Platform 5.

Platform 5 was built for web professionals and their clients. It is extremely fast, bloat-free, and fun to work with. Designers do what they love, clients get the control they need.

Platform 5 is free, but there is a Pro subscription that unlocks many of the features you will probably want if you are a serious blogger. I have a “Personal Pro” subscription for $99 a year. The advantage of Platform 5 is that it enables you to make design changes through a front-end editor that would require CSS and JavaScript knowledge.

Caching

Caching is a crucial factor in your blog’s performance, and there are various types of it. I use Cloudflare to cache and to protect my website from malicious attacks. Cloudflare is more than a Content Delivery Network (CDN), it handles DNS, optimizes traffic and resources and protects the sites it manages against attacks. The best part of it is that most of its features don’t cost you a dime. So it’s a no-brainer, and I highly recommend to sign up if you haven’t already done so.

 

It’s important to point out, that Flywheel also caches certain content to improve performance, making some caching plugins partly obsolete. I’ll talk more about plugins below but note that Flywheel and Cloudflare work nicely together and they don’t overlap or create any conflicts.

Cloudflare settings

For my blog, I use the following Speed and Caching settings:

  • Auto Minify: JavaScript, CSS, HTML
  • Polish: Lossless + WebP
  • Enable Accelerated Mobile Links (AMP): Off
  • Mirage: On
  • Caching Level: Standard
  • Browser Cache Expiration: 8 Days
  • Always On: On

Cloudflare Page Rules

WordPress performance
Cloudflare Page Rules

Jetpack from WordPress

The makers of WordPress also develop a massive and feature-rich plugin called Jetpack. Not everyone likes Jetpack because it has so many features that some consider it bloated. Indeed, the larger the size and functionality of a plugin, the more likely it is, to slow your blog down. On the other hand, Jetpack replaces dozens of individual plugins that you may need otherwise to get the same functionality. All of Jetpack’s features share a common and robust code base, so I would argue Jetpack is less of a drag than 5 or 10 separate plugins. I use Jetpack