Following from the post on the differences between a Wordpress site and a static site, this article presupposes you are already well versed in HTML code and know how a web page is constructed.
Why A Fast Loading Web Page is Desirable
As already mentioned in previous posts on web page load speed optimization, there are three major reasons for working toward achieving the most efficient web page code for your site.
The first is for your visitors. A fast loading page will keep them on you page, whereas a slow loading page may lead them to leave and find a faster website to get their information. Keep visitors on your page and they will read your content and if your site is monetized, may buy your product or click your ads. Either way, keeping visitors happy can make you more money!
The second is appeasing the search engines, especially Google. Search engines will rank your page higher if it loads fast and thereby send you more traffic that you can convert into customers. But if it loads slowly, the opposite may apply and you could lose ranking and all that free targeted traffic.
The third is keeping your hosting company happy. While you will have a certain amount of headroom for using the server's resources, it pays to try and use the minimum. When sites using a server are not resource hungry, the server will run faster, pages will load faster and the two points above will be satisfied.
One last thing: If your site takes too many resources every time a page is loaded, your host can disable your account to protect its hardware.
So you see having fast loading pages is a no brainer.
Ten Ways to Ensure Fast Loading Web Pages
The first five points concern static sites, while the second five cover Wordpress s or other database reliant CMS (Content Management system).
- Build a simple static site rather than using Wordpress unless you really absolutely need a blog. I see so many websites out there that really don't need to be blogs and don't behave like blogs but use blogging software to display a handful of pages often overloaded with plugins and that load way slower than they need to. Keep it simple unless you really need additional functionality.
- Keep HTML code as clean as possible and only use programmatic processing if it is absolutely necessary. Us the latest version of HTML and rather than try and control page layout and display criteria within the HTML , use a well formed CSS style sheet instead.
- Double check your code for improperly closed tags, missing close brackets, duplicate lines of code and unnecessary statements. Comply with W3C constraints and use a code checker to make sure there are no errors on your page. Errors can cause unnecessary additional server processing and while one may only slow things down a nanosecond or two, many errors can add up to fractions of a second or more and search engine bots will take notice of this, as will your host.
- Watch the size of images. Anything around 30kb will load almost imperceptibly slowly for a broadband user, while files over 100kb will load more slowly. Remember that a sizable percentage of the world's Internet users are still using dial-up modems and a 30k image can take 3 seconds or more to load!
- Video can affect the load time of your page even more than large static images if it's hosted on-site, while embedded video such as Youtube items will load only as fast as the connection between Youtube and your visitor. Aim to serve smaller video files if possible or choose a smaller dimensioned video to embed from Youtube. If visitors want to see the full size clip, they can always clock through and visit the Youtube site!
- Wordpress (or other CMS such as Joomla, Drupal etc) require much more server side processing than simple static sites. You can still serve a fast loading blog page as long as you keep things as simple as possible. Such as: Do you really need this or that plugin? Keeping plugins to the absolute minimum to serve up the kind of site you want will help increase page load times and reduce server load.
- As with static sites, keep image sizes to the barest minimum. It's too easy to use the "insert image" or "insert media" button and upload a huge .png image that will take until the end of next week to load up, without bothering to pre-process and optimize that image first. It is far better to do some image processing on your computer using Photoshop or similar program to reduce the file size and create an image of the exact size in pixels and perfectly optimized you want displayed on your web page.
- Themes differ surprisingly widely in the way they handle internal processing. While most themes are correctly optimized, there are some free themes that have not been optimized as best as they should and can cause problems server side. If your page loads slowly using your current free theme, try changing it and see if there is a difference. If there is, change your theme!
- Keep your Wordpress install up to date. One common irritation with Wordpress is the constant updates. But nevertheless it is important from a security aspect as well as an optimization one to ensure your site is running on the very latest version. There may have been processing issues with an older version that a newer one fixes, so stay up to date!
- Keep your site secure as possible. If hackers get in, they can inject malware that will be served to visitors, insert thousands of outbound links to all sorts of bad neighborhood sites, hijack your administration panel and change you settings. A hacked site is the saddest thing to see for a webmaster who may have spent countless hours creating and evolving their site. Stay up to date with the latest security patches, installs and plugins and make it as difficult as possible for hackers to get into your database!
These are the ten major points for ensuring you are serving up a fast loading, well optimized site and an all-round great user experience for any visitor who comes upon your site, while keeping you reseller or shared hosting company happy by not hogging its resources and helping to ensure better uptime. There are many more things you can do to keep things ticking along smoothly, so use common sense and don't over complicate things when the simple solution is the best!