WordPress is an incredible open-source blogging platform that has allowed thousands of people to create beautiful sites they never could without learning how to code. That being said, WordPress doesn’t come optimized out-of-the-box and many users take to forums to try to figure out how they can speed up their loading times. Below, you will find a small collection of WP plugins that I have installed on my websites in order to boost performance.
Why is it important to have faster loading times?
If you are planning on running a website for business or leisure, the point of a website is to showcase your content to its viewers. The way your content is shown to the visitors of your site is through the end user downloading your web page, onto their device, from the host server. Not every host server, however, is created alike which will cause problems for your users.
According to a study conducted by Doubleclick, a Google subsidiary, 53% of mobile users will abandon the site if it doesn’t load within the first 3 seconds.
Interestingly enough, the faster loading websites had a 70% longer engagement time and bounce rates were 35% lower. Mobile sites that loaded faster also did double the amount of revenue as their slower counterparts.
What does this mean for you? It means that you can be losing out on a lot of views that could be negatively impacting your business.
Let’s move on to my list of favourite plugins that help make my websites load faster…
1) WP Rocket
While there are various caching plugins like W3 Total Cache that are free, none are as user-friendly, feature-packed and functional as WP Rocket.
WP Rocket includes not only caching functionalities like page caching, cache preloading, browser caching, etc., but it also features:
- GZIP Compression
- Database Optimization
- Google Fonts Optimization
- Remove Query Strings from Static Resources
- Defer Javacript Loading
- CloudFlare Compatibility
- DNS Prefetching
- Mobile Detection
In addition, WP Rocket is eCommerce friendly and this is especially important when caching your website. The other free plugins come with clunky interfaces that make it difficult to properly optimize caching for your online store.
2) EWWW Image Optimizer
To keep this short and sweet, the reason why you would require an image optimizing plugin is to help shrink the file size of your images so that your website has to load less resources, therefore making it load faster.
While others may claim that WP Smush is the best image optimizer for WordPress, I would have to disagree and recommend EWWW Image Optimizer.
The main reason here is that EWWW’s free version is much more robust than WP Smush.
Let’s take a look at some benefits:
- No speed limits
- Fast compression
- Ability to convert .png files to .jpg in order to shrink file size
- No restrictions on file size or amount of pictures you can compress
On the other hand, Smush only allows you to process 50 attachments at a time and your images can only be 1MB or smaller. You don’t get any of those restrictions with EWWW.
Bonus: Get Better Hosting
When starting out, you may have done some research on how to build a WordPress site and come across a blog post that recommended hosting from BlueHost or HostGator. Naturally, you probably assumed that this was a good hosting company for your needs and that the price was relatively low compared to the competition so you decided to try them out.
Or maybe, you saw a GoDaddy commercial to register a domain name and you were offered web hosting with them.
Either way, if you host your website with any of these companies, be prepared to have slower loading times than your competition.
Who’s the best hosting company?
While there are many hosting companies out there today, there are a select few that I would call leaders in their field.
You might not see many guru blogs recommending Siteground and that is because they do not pay people to promote them as much as the crappy hosting companies do. And why would they? They have the best user reviews in the industry and offer the best value to their customers.
While other companies offer slow shared hosting packages that are not optimized for WordPress at all (this is very important), Siteground’s packages are optimized for WordPress and provide one of the best values you can get.
With plans starting at only $3.95 per month, you can enjoy a fast loading website with amazing customer support.
Don’t be fooled by other hosting companies that have similar pricing packages. Those shared hosting accounts don’t even compare.
Siteground also offers FREE Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates that boost your Google rankings and allow you to open an e-commerce store AND they also offer FREE site migrations in case you’re trying to switch over from another hosting company.
And lastly, Siteground is on the short list of recommended hosts by WordPress.org.
Formerly known as Traffic Planet Hosting, it was created by the infamous site owner of Traffic Planet which is one of the original internet forums.
Their goal was to create a hosting company that provided ultra fast loading speeds for their customers and they have succeeded on that mission.
While Siteground is great, I had an e-commerce business that required 30 different e-mail addresses and a large website, which meant that I was going over my plan.
For 98% of websites, Siteground and other hosts are just fine, but for my mega business, I needed to switch over to WPX Hosting.
Now hold on to your seats because you’ll find out how much I pay for this hosting: $19.99 per month.
That being said, I’m absolutely delighted with their service and I have zero complaints about my fast loading website.
Their $19.99/month plan allows you to host 5 websites, have a ton of email processes running, and they also have FREE Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.
That being said, it’s not necessary for everyone and a large majority of people will get incredible loading times on Siteground’s hosting.