WordPress Optimization Tactics
Out of the Blue Blog

WordPress Optimization Tactics in 2020

Here at Blue Laser Digital, we look at your digital performance from the ground up, and our journey always begins with your server. If your server is not tuned for performance, any performance-based plugin you choose will have a minimal effect. The goal for a highly-tuned and well performing website is to have a positive impact on your customers’ experience. A fast loading, optimized and error-free website is going to help people find the information they’re looking for with the experience being efficient and enjoyable.

Hosting Tips

Your hosting should be running the latest version of PHP—a programming language that WordPress runs on and is used to develop websites or web applications. If you are still running the PHP 5.6 version, simply upgrading to PHP 7.x will net you a serious performance upgrade (Source: https://kinsta.com/blog/php-benchmarks/). Your hosting platform should also leverage HTTP/2 to deliver your website assets efficiently. Picking the best WordPress-specific hosting provider (We use WordKeeper, but WPEngine is also awesome!) is the easiest way to get these sort of performance enhancements.

Implementing techniques like page caching, efficient caching policies and image optimizations on your server level are more effective in creating and maintaining an efficiently-running website. If the hosting does not offer these features, we use a combination of W3 Total Cache and WP Smush to optimize a website’s page, speed and performance. These techniques help with WordPress mobile optimization, too.

Tablet Laptop and Mobile on desk

WordPress mobile optimization

There’s no downside to working with WordPress mobile optimization. Why? Because it makes your website more user friendly. This creates a better user experience (UX), by presenting information efficiently and seamlessly to mobile users. They can access the information they need quickly and correctly, while the appearance of your site is professional and engaging. And, because Google promotes mobile-friendly web pages, your content can outrank competitors who fail at catering to mobile users.

Choosing WordPress Plugins for Site Speed

These plugins help us optimize WordPress in the following areas of performance:

Page Caching

Instead of dynamically generating pages each time a user requests the page, page caching allows the website to save a copy of the generated page for the subsequent users. If there is a cached version of the page, the website can skip building the page and serve the cached version. WP Super Cache is another alternative to W3 Total Cache.

Image Optimization – How to optimize images for WordPress

Images make up a large part of the data you download when you visit your favorite site. Large image file size means slow download speeds, especially on slow connections. To solve this problem, there are several image optimization techniques you can use to help reduce the burden on images on your load times.

At Blue Laser, we use WP Smush to optimize our images. WP Smush can optimize the image files by adjusting the image resolution, selecting the best image format and compressing the image. Also, the plugin enables “lazy loading” for images. Lazy loading leads to faster page load times by optimizing which images are requested on when the page is loaded. It prioritizes images that are visible or close to being visible to the user. Slow loading speeds may make the visitor to your site leave and move onto another site for information.

Some of the best lazy load plugins for WordPress are:

  • LazyLoad for WP Rocket
  • A3 Lazy load
  • Lazy Load for Videos
  • Speed Up – Lazy Load
  • WordPress Infinite Scroll – Ajax Load More
  • Zedna WP Image Lazy Load

Asset Optimization

In addition to images, websites use several other files such as JavaScript, CSS and fonts. In a lot of cases, these files are static files that do not change often. Optimizing the caching policies on these assets can tell the browser whether to hold on to the assets for future use or not. If the browser can cache the assets, the next time you visit the page and request the asset, the browser can skip the download and use the locally available cached asset instead. We can also optimize the assets by minifying and compressing these files to reduce their file size.

People smiling enjoying a website

Further WordPress optimizations can include: minifying or compressing CSS and JavaScript files, loading only necessary fonts, leveraging new image compression formats like WebP, enabling GZIP compression on the server, minimizing HTTP requests, avoid using CSS @import and deferring videos to the platform that hosts them, such as YouTube or Vimeo.

If you’d like to learn more or talk with us about helping you and your business with enhanced digital performance, feel free to contact us today!

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