Nobody likes to wait. Not for their morning coffee, not for their waiter, and definitely not for your slow WordPress load times!
Google suggests a load time of no more than three seconds, with the majority of sites falling well outside of that range.
By Google’s own admission, website visitors are exponentially more likely to bounce with each passing second of agonizing load time. The difference from just 1 to 5 seconds is already a 90 percent increase in bounce rates.
It’s not just frustration, either. Slow load times imply inexperience or a lack of trustworthiness. Potential customers may see long load times on your website and assume you’ll treat their credit card information with a comparably low level of care. They’ll leave for something sleeker and faster.
You get the picture. People aren’t hanging around if your website makes them wait. So what can you do about it?
Make Fewer HTTP Requests In WordPress
Your web page isn’t one unified object. It’s the combination of multiple files, and each time a computer loads in your site, requests for each individual page element have to be made. Naturally, the more requests your site demands the longer it will take to load.
In fact, images, scripts and stylesheets account for roughly 80 percent of your website’s load time.
How do I know how many requests are loading?
Google Chrome actually has tools for this. In the Developer Toolbar you have the option to right-click and “inspect” your page. Under the Network tab, you should be able to bring up an incredibly useful chart giving you the total number of requests along with load times and file sizes.
Minify Your WordPress Files
Minifying involves going through these files and eliminating any extra whitespace or unnecessary code. Extra formatting and bulky code is a common side effect of using website builders like WordPress.
Don’t worry if your eyes are glazing over. For sites that run on WordPress, there are tools available to make the minifying process pain free and easy to understand. W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and even Cloudflare are some popular choices. If you are not technical, Convesio’s WordPress Optimization Service might be a good choice.
Compress Images in WordPress
Another method of eliminating that bulky whitespace and combining repeated files is to compress. Tools like GZip make temporary changes to your text files to shrink them.
If you’re curious about your site’s size before and after compression, use GIDZip or a similar testing tool.
Dealing with large images
Text is cheap. Images and videos are more expensive when it comes to hogging load times. If your site hosts a lot of images (or even just a few), then you’ll want to shrink those down right away. The goal is to make the images as small as possible without losing quality.
Plug-ins like WP Smush work great on sites built with WordPress, but there are steps you can take on your own, as well. For example, cropping your images before uploading them.
The site is loading the entire image whether all of it is visible or not, so don’t rely solely on your site’s parameter settings. Crop the image to the desired size and then put it up.
Load WordPress Files Asynchronously
Set WordPress Site Experience Apart
Remember the Google data we mentioned at the beginning? The Google team found that a whopping 70 percent of the sites they tested took more than five seconds to load. As sad as that is for all those sites that are losing sales and engagement, it means you have an opportunity to set yourself apart from the herd. Speed up your website’s load times to join that other 30 percent, because your marketers work hard and they don’t deserve a slow website holding back sales.