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Why is Your Website Slow?

The first thing that you need to know is to never assume, always confirm!

Nowadays, the internet is the place where everyone is free to express themselves and their services, in the best way they find suitable. It doesn’t matter if you have a business website, portfolio, online shop or blog – your main purpose is to spread the content fast and to reach as many people as possible. Although it seems pretty straight forward, one of the main things that can push people or potential clients away from your website, is its loading speed. A website that loads slowly is bad news on Sunday morning. The good news is that website speed can be improved. If you are interested in how this can happen, you can check some of the most common things causing slow speed and a few ideas on how to improve them.

The first thing that you need to know is to never assume, always confirm. As a website owner, one of the most common mistakes you can make is to assume that your website is fast enough without taking a closer look at its real performance. Yes, the truth is that most sites these days load relatively fast, if the end-user has a decent internet connection, but it’s always good to check if your idea of “fast” can be technologically proven. The easiest way to do that is to run a simple speed test. One of the tools we prefer using for this purpose is GTmetrix. GTmetrix gives you access to a broad range of performance metrics and information about your website’s loading speed. After performing a speed test, if you find some concerning values related to your website’s speed, we may be able to help with this article. Read on to find more about the most common reasons that may cause a slow website and find a few suggestions how you can improve them.

In this article, we’re going to talk about:

1. Hosting performance

Server issues are one of the main reasons why websites load slow. Your server is like a generator, it sleeps and when someone clicks on your website, it starts loading like a car engine. This happens, because your browser notifies the server that it must submit the data to load your website. If the server has a challenge, it takes longer than the average. Some of the reasons for having a slow server connection might be:

  • You are hosted on a free web hosting;
  • Your service is bad and has poor support;
  • The traffic on your website is high and you should upgrade your plan.

Whichever it might be, if you notice something fishy, we always recommend checking it with your hosting provider. Oftentimes they are able to look at things you don’t see and give you valuable suggestions. Most times though, they are probably going to recommend you upgrade your plan or move your websites to a dedicated web hosting.

2. Set up caching

If you’ve ever troubleshooted something on your computer or cleaned up your browsing history, you’ve most likely come across advice related to the cache (pronounced “cash”). But what is cache, and why is it something important for the speed?
The cache on your website is basically a temporary storage of your files like images, logos, texts or any other multimedia. It acts like a memory bank, making it easy to access data locally instead of redownloading it every time you visit a website or open an app.
For example, when a visitor requests a page on your site, a lot has to happen for the page to load. All of the content has to be fetched from the WordPress database, the theme and its settings have to be loaded, and the same has to happen also and for any plugins. This creates work for the server, which naturally takes time.

Caching reduces the work required to load this page by doing the server work once and saving a temporary “finished” copy of the page. This temporary copy can be served to visitors right away and of course the page is loading much faster.

If you notice that your website is loading slowly, you may consider caching it. There are different ways to do that and the most common one is by using a plugin.

3. Limit your plugins usage

A plugin is a bit of code that “plugs” into your website. WordPress plugins are used to either add a new functionality to your website or extend an already existing one. Sometimes, you like a lot of different functionalities and you want them implemented to your website. This all comes at a cost though and that is the cost of a fast-loading website.

Removing all unused plugins has been widely debated recently, with many WordPress developers saying that it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of the plugins that takes a toll on your website’s speed. Either way, it’s a good practise to only use what you really need and can’t live without, and spend a good amount of time researching and choosing the best plugins, when it comes to both functionality and how their code’s been written. We have a few suggestions you might want to take a look at: Top Paid Plugins We Use and Why | Part 1 and Top 5 Free Plugins To Use.

Overall, plugins are useful and can help a lot by saving time and effort, but keep in mind that they also take space and may affect your hosting performance. Especially if you don’t have the hosting resources, limit your plugin usage as much as possible.

Overall, plugins are useful and can help a lot by saving time and effort, but keep in mind that they also take space and may affect your hosting performance. Especially if you don’t have the hosting resources, limit your plugin usage as much as possible.

4. Use a Well-Optimized WordPress Theme

Choosing the right WordPress theme is also very important for your website speed. A theme handles the way your website looks and at the same time it takes care of the visual representationWordPress content like pages and posts. Not only does a theme determine how your site looks to visitors, it also governs much of the back end workings of your online business.

Astra is one of the best WordPress themes that you can use in a manner of speed. It’s optimized for performance by eliminating jQuery dependencies, which often causes delays. It also enables you to pick individual modules to put on your site so you can edit your content more efficiently and leave out anything you don’t need.

We recently took part in a Webinar from Astra’s developers, which covered improving your website speed and how Astra is performing when it comes to speed. A link to this webinar will be left in the Useful links section of this article if you wish to hear more.

** Because we like Astra so much, we invested in a lifetime unlimited websites usage of the premium version, so if you choose to work with us, we can provide the pro version for free. If you’re interested, fill out our request form and we can discuss the details over a cup of virtual coffee.

5. Optimize Your Website’s Images

When the images on your website are way too big, they take significant time to load and this impacts directly on the speed of your website. In order to avoid that, you can perform a few steps to reduce their size. For best results, we recommend you do both a manual optimization and then use a plugin to further compress your images.

When it comes to manual optimization, there are 5 steps you go through. We have an article that explains in detail what you need to do, so check it out: Optimizing Images for Web.

For further optimization using a plugin, we recommend checking out Imagify, which was developed by the WP Rocket team and is completely compatible with the latter. What Imagify does is it automatically compresses your images after you upload them in the media library. It also supports the webP format and if you choose to enable this option, it will automatically convert and serve your images as webPs, which makes them lighter and easier to load. Imagify has a free version, which allows you to compress up to 25MB per month. If you have optimized your images well manually, those MBs will go a long way and last you through the month. You can check out their pricing here.

As you can see, optimizing your website to improve its performance and speed can seem a little daunting. There’s a lot that you can do to reduce loading times, but it’s not always necessary to perform all of these steps at once. The first thing you have to consider before starting work on your website is definitely what hosting and what theme you are going to use. The next – optimizing all of your images. And after that it’s up to you how much you choose to spend in money and time optimizing your website for speed.

I really hope that this article will be useful to you and will give you a little bit more clearance regarding website speed and what you can actually do to improve it 😉

Who wrote this article

Learn more about the author

Penka Bineva

Junior Website Creator

/ UI/UX design enthusiast
/ fantasy novels lover
/ craft beer taster
/ digital art and craft enthusiast
/ very cat person


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