This is a guest post by Camille McClane, a motivated freelance writer and online entrepreneur living in Southern California
While the platform itself is incredibly powerful and comprehensive in terms of the options afforded to the user, WordPress sites often take too long to load for a variety of reasons. Too many plugins, heavy-duty comment engines and poorly designed themes or templates can all contribute.
While the reasons for those lengthy load times will vary, the result is often the same.
What suffers the most with a slow load time is the user experience. While the difference between three and four seconds might be forgivable, 15 to 20 seconds will mean that a user could ultimately lose interest and patience with your site.
If your site is loading slowly enough, it’s basically timing out in the eyes of those who are trying to use it.
Those people will bounce (meaning they’ll click out of your site and fail to browse to a second page) and many of them will never come back to your site again, at least not on purpose.
Additionally,Google places ranking penalties on slow loading sites. While those penalties are relatively small and affect only a small percentage of websites, it’s something to keep in mind, as you don’t want to needlessly downgrade your own website.
But how can we improve this? How can we speed up our WordPress site?
There are a few areas where WordPress speed gets hung up, so the best way to keep things running smoothly is to focus on getting those areas right the first time.
1. Use a solid framework
WordPress offers a ton of customization options and plenty of different themes to choose from. That being said, theGenesis Framework is one of the better choices and is specifically designed for speed.
It’ll cost you some money to use, but it’s worth the investment. Usually a solid framework is going to run you between $50 and $80, most of which include updates and upgrades. While there are plenty of free WordPress themes, buying a framework insures that you’ll have optimized and correctly written code, which can increase your page’s speed tremendously on its own.
2. Don’t use too many plugins
Plugins are one of WordPress’ most attractive and unique features, and there are even some that help you in terms of speed, likeW3 Total Cache.
While plugins can be very effective in helping you to manage your site, it can significantly increase the time it takes to load for your visitors. As a designer or admin, a good rule-of-thumb is to keep plugins to 10 or less. Rarely will you actually need any more than that.
3. Good hosting service
Hosting isn’t exactly the fun part of using WordPress, but a self-hosted WordPress site will suffer if you choose a poor hosting service, mainly because you take a hit in terms of speed, storage space and service.
Keep in mind that “self-hosting” means you still have to pay for a hosting service, though you’re the one uploading the files and content, while maintaining the rights to your site.
Look for something with unlimited space and bandwidth at less than $10 a month, which is the typical market value for website hosting. Anything more would be overpaying.TigerTech is a decent option in terms of price, speed and storage space.
It’s a bit technically involved to properly configure caching on your WordPress site, though the plugin I mentioned earlier (W3 Total Cache) is a workable solution. It essentially creates a temporary storage for your web documents (usually HTML and any images), which will reduce bandwidth being used and increase the loading speed of your page.
Your best bet here is to enlist the help of a friend or professional who knows the ins-and-outs of the process.
Testing your Loading Speed
Check your speed before and after you implement some of these solutions. If you notice that your site is improving, dig a little deeper into each topic and take further steps to optimize your website.
It’s worth the investment of time if you get on Google’s good side and avoid frustrated viewers.
Today’s guest writer is Camille McClane, a motivated freelance writer and online entrepreneur living in Southern California. As a writer for BlogWranglers, she understands the importance of having an effective WordPress site and how its loading speed can greatly affect user experience. What have you done to speed up your own site? Share your comments below!