For anyone involved in marketing a business big or small, the following statement shouldn't come as a surprise: How fast your website loads for your audience matters. Studies show that no less than a quarter of your audience will abandon your site if it takes over 4 seconds to load, which isn't surprising considering that over 50 percent of US online shoppers consider slow loading times as the top reason for abandoning a purchase.
And yet, especially startups and other small businesses often feel a lack of control over how quickly their website loads. Developing a website on an out-of-the-box platform like WordPress can feel like giving up control over the details of the code. But in reality, you have more control than you think!
Here are some potential reasons and fixes for the all-too-frequent question: Why is my WordPress site slow?
Large, Non-Optimized images
Visuals are crucial in marketing and web design, as they help your audience better understand and process the information you're trying to get across. At the same time, many inexperienced marketers upload large images to their site and resize them using the internal WordPress tool in order to fit a page.
What they don't know: The resizing tool only applies to the appearance of the image, not the file itself. Large images will need to load fully for every visitor, leading to significantly longer page loading times. Instead of uploading your 4000x3000-pixel image, try resizing it to its final form before the upload to decrease your site load times.
Too Many Plugins
WordPress plugins can be incredibly helpful to customize your site and improve your user experience. But every plugin installed on your site will slow down its loading speed, as it will need to be loaded for each of your visitors before the page is displayed.
To fix this problem, regularly check your plugins to make sure you're only running the ones you really need. To help with your evaluation, run the free P3 plugin that will tell you exactly which of your current plugins are slowing down your site.
Your Host Is Not Up To Par
Every website has to have a place that stores its code, images, plugins, and other related files. As you can probably imagine, that host will have a major impact over how quickly your site loads. The longer it takes for the host to send all necessary information to your visitor, the more frustrating their experience will be.
Instead of going with the cheapest host, you may want to consider paying a low monthly fee in order to get your site loading speeds up to par. Good hosts are available for as little as $4/month, and there are many great resources available to help you pick the best host for your needs.
Overloading Your Homepage
We get it—it's tempting to stick as much information as possible on your homepage, from dynamic image carousels to videos along with social media "share" buttons and live feeds. In reality, each of these items will slow down the loading speed of your homepage, the first destination on which the majority of your visitors will land (or not, if they get discouraged about the slow load time).
Instead of overloading your homepage in a top-heavy approach, try spreading the information equally among your top-level pages. You can still link to it from the homepage, allowing visitors easy access to all of your shiny materials should they need it.
Clean Up Your Code
As you probably know, the visual front end of your website looks far different than the framework enabling and supporting its functionality in the background. Quite simply, the more convoluted your code, the slower your site will load.
To optimize your site load time, you need an optimized CSS and cache system that enables full functionality of your site without needing to load new every time a visitor returns.
Of course, especially the last point requires in-depth knowledge of web development and coding. If that sort of tweaking goes beyond your level of expertise, it might not be a bad idea to hire someone who knows how to do it—and well. The benefits of having a fast-loading site far outweigh most costs and the effort it takes to get you there.