How long does it take the average visitor to load your WordPress website?
While its web-based interface offers a convenient way to build a website, WordPress often suffers from long load times.
The content management system (CMS) has a complex architecture consisting of HTML, PHP and MySQL that, when not properly optimized, can increase the time it takes visitors to load your website.
To keep visitors coming back, you must identify what exactly is slowing down your WordPress website.
1) Outdated Version of WordPress
Running an outdated version of WordPress can slow down your website.
Developers at the WordPress Foundation release about a dozen new versions of the popular CMS each year.
While some of these updates are designed to patch security vulnerabilities, others are designed to improve speed and overall performance.
Therefore, running an outdated version of WordPress may increase your website's load times.
By default, WordPress only performs automatic updates for minor releases as well as security releases.
For major releases, you must update WordPress manually by logging in to the admin dashboard and clicking the "update now" link at to the top of the page.
2) Too Many Plugins
One of the most common causes of long load times with WordPress websites is using too many plugins.
Each plugin you install and activate adds new code to your website, resulting in bloated files that take longer to load than smaller files with less code.
Furthermore, some plugins work in conjunction with your website's MySQL database.
As a result, they automatically execute database queries, with each query consuming of your server's resources.
There's no limit to how many plugins you can install and activate on your website.
With that said, you should avoid using an excessive number of plugins, especially if your website is already suffering from long load times.
3) Not Resizing Images Before Uploading
Failure to resize images before uploading them to your website can result in longer load times for visitors.
Whether you captured it using a camera or downloaded it from a stock photo website, an image will probably need resizing to display properly on your website.
An image that's 6,048 pixels by 4,024 pixels, for example, will obviously be too wide for your website.
If you don't resize an image before uploading it to your website, WordPress's Gutenberg editor will automatically shrink the image's width so that it fits inside the content block.
You can also specify the image's width and length under "Image Settings" in Gutenberg.
Using either of these options, however, still forces visitors to download the original image, and because of its large dimensions, the image can slow down your website.
To prevent large images from slowing down your website, you must resize them externally using an editing tool like Photoshop before uploading them to your website.
4) Hosting Videos Directly on Website
Hosting videos directly on your website can lead to longer load times.
Although it's not a native feature in WordPress, plugins like Easy Video Player allow webmasters to host videos on their website.
Videos contain both audio and visual data, so they typically have a large file size than images.
A 15-minute video recorded in a high-definition resolution may have a file size of 2 GB or more.
Each time a visitor watches the video until completion, he or she will consume 2 GB of bandwidth.
While your website is transmitting all this data, other visitors may encounter longer load times.
Rather than hosting videos directly on your website, host them on YouTube. You can then copy the embed code and add it to your website.
By displaying embedded videos, visitors will consume YouTube's resources rather than your server's resources.
5) It's Been Hacked
If your website has been hacked, it may contain newly added malicious code that manifests in the form in longer load times for visitors.
According to a study conducted by EnableSecurity, over two-thirds of all WordPress websites are vulnerable to hacking.
If a hacker infiltrates your website, he or she may use it to distribute malware to your site's visitors.
Aside from harming your website's reputation, instances of hacking such as this will consume your server's resources and, therefore, slow down your website.
There are several ways to protect your website from hacking, including the use of a strong admin password, prohibiting users from uploading files and regularly monitoring traffic for suspicious activity.
6) Not Using a Caching Plugin
While using too many plugins can slow down your website, you shouldn't ignore the speed-boosting value offered by a caching plugin.
WordPress typically serves content dynamically to visitors, meaning it fetches content from your website's MySQL database and provides that content to visitors.
Caching plugins work by creating static pages of content, which are served more quickly to visitors than their dynamic counterparts.
Some of the top caching plugins include WP Super Cache, WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.
When properly configured, a caching plugin can slash your website's load times by 30 percent to 50 percent.
7) Inferior Web Hosting
Even if your website is optimized to load quickly, cheap or otherwise inferior web hosting may slow it down.
Web hosting providers offer a variety of hosting packages, some of which contain more than resources than others.
If your web hosting package contains a low amount of bandwidth CPU and RAM, it may buckle during periods of heavy traffic.
When speaking about web hosting, the phrase "You get what you pay for" holds true.
Free web hosting packages are the worst because they contain the least amount of resources.
Shared web hosting packages are slightly better but still inferior for most websites.
Instead of free or shared, choose a dedicated web hosting package or a virtual private server (VPS) web hosting package.
Don't let your website's performance falter from long load times.
Put on your investigator's cap to determine what exactly is slowing it down.
Maybe your website is running an outdated version of WordPress or perhaps it's using too many plugins.
Regardless, you can correct technical issues such as these to achieve a faster WordPress website.
Do you need help speeding up your WordPress website? Get in touch with us. Our Web Development Consultants are here to help.