How to Make Your Website Load Faster – Part 1

Speed Counts

Your websites speed affects your page ranking in Google as well as your sites conversion rate. The goal of any website is to make users aware of a product or service it offers or, more commonly, provide some information which allows users to contact you directly.

According to Kissmetrics, every second your site takes to load counts. Forty percent of users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. So let’s look at a few methods we can easily adapt to increase our websites speed.

Your Website as a Shopping Cart…

Consider your website as a shopping cart in the supermarket, on a busy Sunday night with your entire family at home waiting to eat. Each item you add to your cart will represent a item used on your site such as images, css, javascript, etc. The more you put in the cart, the slower it moves … the heavier it gets.

Combine & Minify: If we needed to make a quick meal we will try to use as little ingredients or items as possible, this means we will only use bare minimum in ingredients and try not to load the cart with any unnecessary or unused items.

In regards to your site speed, the less items your site has to use in order to complete a task, the less time it will take to load. A minimal WordPress site loads 3 CSS files, 3 Javascript files and 8 images, that is a total of 14 files your site has to load every time a user views a page.

Now, assuming you are not running a minimal blog, your site may be loading a lot more than 14 files per page.

The way a item loads on your site is that once the request is made your browser makes what is known as a http request to find that file and load it on the current page. Now consider, a great number of these files can be combined and minified to what appears as 1 http request for a item rather than 3 request for similar items.

We minify items by removing the line-endings and white-space which makes the code a lot more human friendly but is completely useless to the machine once the file is able to compile with no errors. “A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”

We all love WordPress for what it seems as infinite extensions, plugins and features. I’m sure quoting the number of WordPress plugins available today will be very impressive but useless because the number is likely to change even before this post is published. Yes, that’s how much plugins are available today, infinite (not really).

Although plugins are what made WordPress so great, consider this, every plugin we add to our site is essentially a new dish at our dinner table with it’s own shopping list and items that has to be loaded to WordPress. This is the real reason developers don’t recommend adding a lot of features to your site.

Using a WordPress Plugin to Speed Up Your Site

The easiest and quickest method to speed up your WordPress site is by installing WP-Total-Cache.

What does this do?

Good question. WP-Total-Cache is a wordpress plugin that easily enable caching features on your website. You are able to set the time you want items to be cached and specify the best method available to do so.

So what is caching anyways?

Consider your first time at a museum and you visit each exhibit once. Months later you may have heard “new items” have been added and you decide to revisit. Cache is that automatic sensation you get when you encounter a exhibit you have already been to.

In your browsers this means that the item has already been accessed once and based on the amount of times its being used it would be better for me just to remember this file and only load items that appear new to me.

Makes sense? Feel free to ask me any questions at leian@paperstreet.com or in the comment box below.

Once you are comfortable with the methods above we will take a look at a few other in-depth methods which can also help.

Other Methods to Speed Up Your Site (Part 2)

While the method above will surely get the job done, it’s best to have a wide range of options available to you and we will discuss those in Part 2 next week.

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