Slow + steady wins the race works for a number of things in the online world, but not your website. It’s a fact that users have painfully short attention spans + are more likely to leave a slow loading website than wait around for it. Even if you want to curate a fan base of followers who love you oh-so-much that they don’t care if your site takes 30 seconds to load, you have to first get them interested in what you have to say. If that message loads like your fans are using dial-up internet, they aren’t likely going to stick around to read your important message.
There are super nerdy things you can do to speed up your website, but we aren’t going to go over those here. I want to talk about the ways that you can implement quickly + painlessly. The ways that will get your site lightning fast with minimal time investment on your part. Big wins, you might say.
The first rule of site speed
Before you can start speeding up your website, you’ll want to know how slow your site really is. There are approximately 19 million speed test services out there, but these are my 2 personal favorites –
Head to one or both of those links + paste your website’s URL in the box. Then start the test. The Google test will give you a score out of 100 for both mobile + desktop versions. Where Pingdom will give you a speed + tell you how you rank among other sites. For example: when tested, tinyblueorange.com is faster than 84% of all tested websites. talk about bragging rights!
Now that you have your baseline to improve from, tackle these quick changes to make your site faster.
Site clutter leads to site slowdowns
If you haven’t already cleaned up your unused plugins, now is the time to do so. The more “stuff” that needs to load on your site, the slower your site load time is. Now this doesn’t relate to plugins that aren’t in use, so it will take a little more time than simply deleting all of your inactive ones. Look through your active plugins list for ones that you actually aren’t using + get those uninstalled, stat.
Is your nerd level looking to increase by 10 points? Disable one or two plugins (make sure you know what they do on your site first) + then run a speed test. If you see a big jump in performance, you know that plugin is a resource hog + you’ll benefit from removing it completely, or replacing it with a better-coded option.
Is your host working for you or against you
Shared hosting, which is what the majority of all WordPress websites are on, leaves most site owners at the mercy of the other sites on their server in terms of security + speed. Your site might be zippy + secure, but your fellow sites could be riddled with security weak points + be serious resource hogs, which means you are going to suffer because of them.
Picking the right website hosting company means you’ll be set up for success, not fighting for server resources every single day.
Companies like Flywheel only host WordPress sites + configure their servers to make sure their client’s sites are fast. In fact, all of our clients that have switched to Flywheel have seen, on average, a 20% speed increase simply for switching from their lackluster hosting company.
Imagine the impact of improving your site’s load time by 20% — every second that you speed up your site load time equals ~11% more page views from your visitors. Those 11% could lead to more contact form submissions, more sign-ups for your mailing list + more fans of your blog. all of those are great for your business’s bottom line.
Looking for even more help with hosting? tiny blue orange has been hosting client sites for the past year + would love to add yours to the family.
Big images are big problems
One of the biggest reasons sites aren’t loading fast is because they are trying to load giant images. And before you go saying something like “I don’t have a full-width slideshow on my site, why is it still so slow?”, it’s important to note that I’m not necessarily talking about big in screen size. What i am talking about is big in file size — which can mean big on the screen, or not.
With retina devices + better technology, you do want to save images at a good resolution so that they look sharp on all devices. but anything above 144ppi isn’t necessary. so when I help clients speed up their sites + see images that are 300ppi and over 2,000 pixels on one edge, I know I can do a lot to help those sites get much zippier.
Let’s say you download an image from a stock site for your latest blog post. If your featured image max-width is 700px, you would benefit from resizing the image you download. Why? Because most of those sites give you an image file that is 300ppi + close to 3,000 pixels wide or tall. You need an image that is 25% of that size + 50% of the resolution. This is why taking the download straight to your blog post is asking more of your server resources than it needs to.
Without Photoshop, you can use other file saving applications to reduce the file size before uploading it. Or you can use the WordPress image editor right in your blog post to pick a smaller size. Just be careful not to go too small. I’m not recommending sacrificing image quality for the sake of a speedy site. You can have your cake + eat it too, I promise.
Hard work pays off
Now that you’ve gone through the steps to speed up your site, run a new test.
In case you have caching on your site, I recommend running your test at least 24 hours after you make any changes to ensure the testing tool you use is seeing the latest version. Then compare your test results with the ones from the first go around. Give yourself a pat on the back for kicking ass + then maybe explore the more nerdy suggestions that the test results share with you. Or work on improving the speed of your site interior pages, starting with the most popular ones first.
I want to be clear that any link to Flywheel on this site is an affiliate link, but I only talk about them because I love them. And because I use them.
Yup, this site is hosted on Flywheel + 2 dozen of my client’s sites are as well.