Ruth Chapman
Ruth Chapman
11th Aug, 2020

why site speed is important

Page speed is vital to UX, and affects your business’ results in SEO, Paid Search and Paid Social. Not only is site speed something that will demand even more attention, ahead of Google’s 2021 update – it already plays a part in your rankings and consequently, your conversions. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time spent on the page. So how do you improve it? Before we delve into the best tools of the trade, it’s important to know what you’re working with.

Run your site through GTmetrix, a free tool that will tell you how your site is performing in terms of speed, as well as pointing out what’s slowing it down and where there is opportunity to optimise.

 

Which Tools Should I Use?

 

Here are the tools and plugins that Vine Digital predominantly uses for speed optimisation. But before you do anything, be sure to create a backup for your whole website. Sometimes, installing these can conflict your current themes and plugins.

1. Compress Image

 

  • Before you upload images to WordPress, it is best to compress them. Otherwise, you risk overloading your disk. Tools such as https://tinypng.com and https://tinyjpg.com use smart lossy compression techniques, reducing the file size of your PNG and JPG files.
  • Smush – Compress, Image Optimizer, Lazy Load, WebP Images is another convenient way to handle larger images. This plugin helps to optimise your images, turn on Lazy Load, resizing and compressing to improve your Google Page Speed. This image smusher is incredibly powerful and is 100% free for WordPress users.

 

2. Lazy Load Images

 

The Lazy Load images rewriter defers the loading of images until they are visible in the user’s viewport, or the page’s onload event fires. This avoids blocking the download of other critical resources necessary for rendering content above the fold.

Here are some plugins we recommend:

 

 

3. Enable Compression

 

This reduces the size of files sent from your server, to increase the speed to which they are transferred to the browser.

Here are some plugins we recommend:

 

 

4. Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

 

By optimizing your code (which means removing spaces, commas and other unnecessary characters) you can dramatically increase your page speed.

Here are some plugins we recommend:

 

 

5. Leverage browser caching

 

Browsers cache a lot of information, from stylesheets to images to JavaScript files and more. This is so that when a visitor comes back to your site, the browser doesn’t have to reload the entire page. Use a tool like YSlow to see if you already have an expiration date set for your cache. Then, set your “expires” header for how long you want that information to be cached. In many cases, unless you are changing your site design frequently, a year is a reasonable time period. Google has some more information about leveraging caching here. Browser caching can help by storing some of these files locally in the user’s browser.

Here are some plugins we recommend:

 

 

6. Improve server response time

 

Slow response time may be caused by several issues: poor web hosting, web server setup, traffic overload or too many resources used. Google’s optimal server response time recommendation is set below 200ms. Your server response time is affected by the amount of traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and the hosting solution you use. To improve your server response time, look for performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory and fix them. The optimal server response time is under 200ms.

Of course, there are countless other plugins and combinations out there. Only you know what’s best for your website, so it’ll take a little bit of Googling, and a little trial and error. If you’d like some help talking through your options for improving site speed, we’d love to chat about what we can do for your business.