Grow your online business on a rock-solid foundation
A slow website affects your bottom line, improve WordPress performance and get:
- better conversion rate
- better search engine rankings
- save money on server resources
For more details on why speed matters, check out this infographic on how speed affects your website.
Get better web hosting
The first layer of a rock-solid foundation is web hosting optimized for your application – i.e., WordPress.
If you’re on shared hosting it’s almost impossible to guarantee a consistent level of performance and you should move to a better hosting solution.
We can help you by hosting your WordPress website on dedicated cloud servers, fully managed by us.
- free migrations
- free SSL
- 99,9% uptime
- daily backups
- performance optimization & monitoring
- security monitoring
- expert WordPress support
Look out for bad code
The second layer of a rock-solid foundation is the code.
The strength of this foundation is given by the quality of the PHP code in WordPress themes and plugins. Bad code can sabotage your success and you might not even know it.
Bad code equals a bad site. Period. Whether it’s in your theme or in a plugin, bad code will sink your site and there is no magic hosting, caching, “cloud” or CDN pill that will cure it.
That is a quote from a copyblogger.com post that I think is the essence of WordPress performance optimization.
The first step in having a faster website is to make sure your code is good.
Code is your foundation on which you build your online business. You want to build your business on a rock-solid foundation, right?
From my experience optimizing WordPress websites, if your site is slow it is not because you don’t have a CDN or the CSS is not minified but mostly because of bloated code, bloated database, unoptimized images or a bad host.
You need to choose a well-coded theme & well-coded plugins.
Use well-coded WordPress Themes
If you’re looking for free WordPress themes, the WordPress.org theme directory is a good place to get quality themes as the code is being reviewed by the review team.
There is also a great deal of premium WordPress themes:
It’s impossible to test every theme out there for performance, so we invite you to leave a comment from your own experience with any theme provider.
We are fans of Genesis Framework made by StudioPress.com.
From our experience with shared hosting customers, those who used the Genesis Framework were able to handle higher levels of traffic before reaching their account limits.
We highly recommend Genesis to everyone who wants a better foundation for their website and we also have made some free child themes for it.
The themes are free to download, use them and modify them as you wish, no restrictions (basically, they’re just CSS modifications of the Genesis Sample Theme. I’m not a developer, I just played around with different colors and font combinations.)
Brian Gardner of StudioPress has a comprehensive list of themes & plugins made for Genesis in his Ultimate Genesis Guide.
What about Themeforest?
Most themes on Themeforest do not focus on performance. They are made for beginners, people who don’t have a clear objective of what they want to do with their websites so they choose WordPress themes based on beauty and ease of use.
Hundreds of features and ease of use means more sales for the developer but it also means more bloat for your website.
If you want my personal opinion, I would stay away from easy visual drag’n’drop builder fluff & stuff.
I’m not saying all easy visual builders suck at performance, I’m just saying that if want your website to be successful you need to choose wisely and build it on a solid foundation.
A solid foundation means a well-coded theme made by respected developers, even if that means more work or a higher cost.
Use well-coded WordPress Plugins
Most performance issues are caused by WordPress plugins.
Just like themes, the plugins must have good, clean code. You only need one bad plugin to slow down your site.
Each plugin you activate in your WordPress install will add extra MB to memory usage. Some plugins more, some less.
There are tens of thousands of plugins, free or premium, and many of them are not built responsibly. Being so many, it’s impossible for a site owner to know them all.
So, how do you choose the right WordPress plugins?
How do you know what plugin consumes too many resources, what plugins are well-coded, what plugins affect site performance?
In choosing the plugins I follow a few simple rules…
#1 presence on WordPress.org
Very rarely I choose plugins that are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory. I try to stay away from plugins from shady websites.
#2 who makes the plugin
I rarely choose plugins made by people who I haven’t heard of. Here’s a short list of great plugin developers:
- Bill Erickson
- Nathan Rice
- Remkus de Vries
- Donncha O Caoimh
- Human Made Limited
- Kevin Weber
- Andrew Norcross
- Justin Tadlock
- Joost de Valk
- Brandon Kraft
- Thomas Griffin
- Syed Balkhi
- Ron Rennick
- Stefano Lissa
There are many good developers, it’s hard to list everyone.
#3 frequent updates
Another thing that I look for is the frequency at which the plugin is updated, I check compatibility with the latest version of WordPress and the developer’s willingness to answer support questions.
#4 plugin reviews
I search Google for reviews of the particular plugins I want to use. It’s a great source of information on how people used the plugin, if they had issues with it, etc. Keep in mind though that some reviews might be just affiliates marketing articles.
#5 test the plugin
Ultimately, I just test the plugin myself.
I install it on a test site, check all functionalities, how many JS and CSS files it loads, how much memory it consumes, how many queries makes to the database, etc…
There’s also P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) use it to see which plugins are slowing down your site. It is usually very useful in finding if a plugin is bad but sometimes it’s inaccurate and it doesn’t help much.
In those cases I use Query Monitor – this is a useful plugin to view debugging and performance information on database queries, hooks, conditionals, HTTP requests, redirects and more.
I find this a very useful plugin to identify if anything is dragging your website down.
I have a list of plugins I use on almost every website I own and I recommend them to my clients.
To help you, we’ve published a list of recommended plugins. These are tested by us or are successfully used by our customers. We’ve also listed those that are not recommended, due to performance issues.
Also, WPEngine has a list of disallowed plugins. It’s a good resource to see which plugins might be too resource hungry and remove them from your website.
By improving the speed and scalability of your website, you accelerate the growth of your online business, whatever it may be (company website, blog, affiliate site, web magazine or newspaper).
You will not lose money because your website is not loading fast enough or breaks on the first traffic spike.
You can follow our free tutorials below to make your WordPress website faster or buy hosting from us and get free optimization for your website.
1. Test & identify problems
To improve your website’s loading speed, you must first test thoroughly and identify what is causing the problem. There are several tools to test, follow our tutorial to learn more.
2. Install & setup a cache plugin
If you’re on shared hosting one of the easiest ways to improve WordPress speed and scalability is to implement a cache. There are many caching plugins for the job, follow our tutorial to see what we recommend.
3. Optimize your images for the web
One of the factors that might slow down your website is using big photos that unoptimized for the web. Follow our tutorial to learn more about how to optimize your images.
4. Clean up your WordPress database
A slim database is crucial for your WordPress performance. From our experience, cleaning the database is one of the most useful improvements you can do.
Keep in mind, our objective for writing these tutorials is real performance, not just better grades on popular testing tools.
5. Keep Monitoring
Your WordPress website should be monitored, secured and updated.
Although we can not provide maintenance services because we want to focus on web hosting, we have included in our WordPress hosting plans some monitoring services that can help you.
More resources (external)
- 10+ useful SQL queries to clean up your WordPress database
- Optimizing Your WordPress Database – A Complete Guide
- How to Remove Unused CSS JS Files in WordPress
- 18 Tips on How to Speed Up WordPress
- 16 Website Speed Test Tools for Analyzing Web Performance
- Optimizing Images for Web: A Practical Guide
- How to Make WordPress Sites Load 72.7% Faster
- How To Speed Up Your Website
- Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site
- PageSpeed Insights Rules
- 5 Tools for Testing Your WordPress Site’s Performance and Speed
- The Ultimate Guide to Boost WordPress Speed & Performance
- How to Find Out Which Plugins are Slowing Down Your WordPress Site