Perhaps you are the one who is often asked this question: How to make WordPress faster? This tutorial will give you all the information you need to stop dealing with the very annoying problem of slow WordPress. Sure, slow loading sites have their advantages. You can make coffee in between :-). But we believe that in this case, you’d probably like to skip it. After all, loading speed is one of the most important factors, for many reasons. We’ll talk more about all of them in this tutorial.

The first step is to explain why web speed is so important. Next, we’ll look at the difference between static and dynamic websites and which one is likely to win out in terms of speed. We’ll recommend frequently used tools for measuring website speed and performance. Finally, we’ll show you 15 tips for speeding up WordPress that really anyone can implement. So let’s do it fast :-)!

Static vs. Dynamic websites and their relation to speed

Never heard of the difference between static and dynamic websites? We can easily illustrate it to you through the analogy of a photographer versus a painter. Imagine that both artists are asked to create an image of an ornamental flower on display as quickly as possible in a competition. While the painter must always “render” the image, the photographer need only press the shutter and show the finished image of the flower.

So who wins? Probably the photographer.

Illustration of static and dynamic web pages.

The same is true for static and dynamic content on websites. On static websites, the content itself is always already present (e.g. an ornamental flower), you just have to open it and look at it. In the case of dynamic content, however, the page must be created every time someone wants to see it. So, like a painter, a website must “render” the content (e.g. an ornamental flower) to the visitor each time.

Measuring WordPress speed and performance

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Pingdom is a popular tool for comprehensive website analysis. Use it to better determine what the problem is with your website. Specifically, what is limiting your website speed and performance. In general terms, websites are made up of various elements, including: HTML, CSS, Javascript or images. All of these generate a certain number of requests – the more requests, the slower the page usually loads. Before starting a test on Pingdom, choose a specific location from where the website will be tested (it is advisable to choose the location closest to you to minimize bias). You will see for yourself that Pingdom provides very broad and interesting information about the site.

Google Page Speed Insights

Google Page Speed Insights is another very popular tool used to check for basic performance and site speed issues. After analysis, the site is given a PSI score which can range from 0 to 100. The analysis takes into account both desktop and mobile viewing of the page. You can see their ratings separately and clearly. The main advantage of the tool is that it immediately offers you concrete suggestions on how to optimize your website. For example, by compressing images, shortening the server response time, minification of CSS and Javascript, etc. The good news is that plugins can help you with most of these issues. You’ll see a number of such handy plugins below, in our 15 tips to speed up WordPress section.

How to Speed Up WordPress – 15 Tips

1) Allow WordPress to cache data (called “caching”)

Simply put: WordPress “renders” a web page every time a user visits it. However, this dynamically “rendered” page can be cached to help it load faster when users revisit it. WordPress already uses this technique in several places in its core functionality. However, you can improve the level/amount of cached data by using dedicated plugins. Our proven tip is the WP Fastest Cache plugin. You can read how to set it up properly in the detailed article here. So why is the plugin great? It has a lot of options – besides “caching” it can also minimize HTML, CSS and Javascript for faster pages. It can do Gzip compression just as well (see point 2 below). It is available in a free version that provides everything you need. However, you can also purchase a paid version that does much more. In addition to WP Fastest Cache, there are of course other and widely used plugins such as WP Super Cache or WP Rocket (paid plugin).

2) Enable Gzip compression

Gzip is, in simple terms, a software (or program) that allows you to reduce the size of the transferred data, and thus contributes greatly to the speed of websites. Gzip compression is usually included in some caching plugins (see tip 1) – e.g. WP Fastest Cache.

3) Increase the PHP version

WordPress works thanks to PHP software. This is usually used on the server where your website is stored. Now pay attention. The version of PHP can play a big role in the performance of your website. For most web hosts, the current version of PHP is usually available (PHP 8.1+). So there is nothing stopping you from upgrading the PHP version yourself – either directly in the administration, or by asking your web host for assistance via technical support. And let’s face it, a reliable hosting provider is the alpha and omega of fast WordPress. If you have WordPress fine-tuned down to the last detail, but you don’t have a quality web hosting provider, it won’t help the site significantly. We highly recommend Wedos web hosting, which is generally known for its quality and affordability. Their servers work briskly and reliably. You can use the 50% discount code: WN232OVSAN.

4) Don’t underestimate your choice of web hosting provider

The topic of quality web hosting for WordPress content management system is a chapter by itself :-). That’s why we’ve devoted an entire lesson called how to choose best hosting for WordPress to this important topic. In it, you will learn everything you need to know about quality WordPress hosting. Their servers are stable and fast, which will also help your website’s performance. Nowadays, the speed of websites is the most important thing. Most website visitors refuse to wait longer than a few seconds for a website to load. Then they usually leave and do not come back to the website. If you want to give Wedos a try, there’s nothing easier than using the 50% off code: WN232OVSAN.

5) Choose the optimal server location to host your website

The physical location of the server where your website is hosted can play a big role in when pages are loaded. Before choosing a server location, you should be clear about where the majority of your site’s visitors will come from. Let’s assume you are from the EU. Then it makes sense to use the services of a EU web hosting provider that has its servers located locally, i.e. in the EU. If the majority of visitors to your website come from the opposite side of the globe, this could have a significant impact on the loading speed of your website. Especially when you need to load a larger number of smaller files.

6) Optimize your website for display on mobile devices

When it comes to web development, the watchword of our time is clearly “MOBILE FIRST”. And what does that mean? Before we start creating any website, we should think about its mobile version first. In other words, we should take into account that a large number of users, quite possibly the majority, will visit our website via a mobile device, i.e. a tablet or phone. You should also think about users of older mobile devices, who will not have as rich a view of your website due to the use of outdated technologies. For this purpose, there are a number of plugins to optimize the mobile display of your website content.

7) Choose your website template carefully – i.e. the basis of how to speed up WordPress

You must have noticed that there are many marketplaces on the internet that offer a plethora of professional and high quality templates (e.g. Themeforest). These are of course chargeable, so you may have thought that you could download a pirated copy of your chosen template from the internet. We advise you not to do that! It is very likely that together with the “pirated theme” you will download malicious scripts that can use your server to send spam emails, spy on your customers’ data, etc. And that’s simply not worth saving a few hundred. If you want a specific recommendation, you can 100% bet on two reliable, trustworthy and long-term top-rated templates Seven or Avada. We have personally tested both of them, we use them and we can’t praise them enough. If you want to learn more about quality WordPress templates, be sure to also visit the Best WordPress Templates section where we break them down in detail.

What should a quality template look like? Design is a purely subjective matter. Everyone has completely different preferences in this regard. So it wouldn’t make sense to write here about what we like :-). One of the most important technical aspects is the “lightness of the template”. Its code should be written by professionals, with speed in mind. As a rule, the “smaller” the template, the faster it loads. Another important element is how many requests the template generates (requests refer to all the supporting data the template needs to load fully). It is usually the case that the fewer requests a template sends, the faster the website loads. You can easily check the number of requests being sent using Pingdom.

8) Use a reasonable amount of plugins – delete unnecessary ones

If you choose the right plugins among plenty of plugins, they can help your website a lot and significantly raise its current limits. However, the motto applies here too: everything in moderation! A large number of plugins can negatively affect the speed of your website. It’s similar to installing many apps on your phone over time, which slows down and drains faster as a result. So what is the basic rule to follow? Some plugins, such as those that reset a “clogged” WordPress to its original state, are used once in a while and for a specific purpose. It is therefore advisable to activate them only for that purpose, and deactivate them again once the purpose has been fulfilled. Remember: In general, it is advisable to deactivate (and possibly delete) all plugins that you do not necessarily need on your website and do not play a significant role in its functioning.

9) Get rid of unnecessary decorative elements

Some websites are full of various design elements, animations, videos, colours, decorative text and anything else you can think of. This can be beautiful and spectacular at first glance. However, from a general point of view, this does not help the website in any way, quite the opposite. All these “decorative elements” increase the number of scripts to be loaded along with the template. This ultimately means that the page load time also increases. Not to mention that regular visitors are usually not interested in decorative elements at all. Their interest is rather in the substantive content of your website. Moreover, such a “crowded” website may start to “get on people’s nerves” after a while :-).

10) Reduce the quality of all images

It goes without saying that reduced image quality is clearly linked to faster loading web pages. This is because images take up less memory after this intervention and therefore do not require as much time to load. But now you’re probably wondering what to do with the dozens of images you may have already uploaded to your WordPress. Fortunately, there are plenty of handy plugins that will take care of everything for you. That is, from reducing the quality of images already uploaded to reducing the quality of images uploaded to the editorial system in the future. These plugins include, for example, a very popular tool called Smush Image Compression and Optimization or EWWW Image Optimizer. Most image optimization plugins are either paid or have limited capabilities in some way. One of the quality plugins that is completely free is Robin Image Optimizer. We had a chance to test it. It provides most of the features of competing plugins at similar optimization quality.

11) Delay loading images that don’t need to be loaded as a priority

Delay loading images is possible if the image is visible to the browser on the page, but is, for example, placed at the bottom of the page (i.e. the user cannot see it yet). The visitor must then scroll down with the mouse to get to the image. The image will start loading only when the visitor sees it (i.e. scrolls to it by scrolling the mouse). This has two important advantages: 1) it reduces the number of page requests related to loading individual elements, 2) it also reduces the overall size of the page, which leads to faster page loading.

12) Optimize your WordPress database

Over time, you can’t avoid your database from filling up with various unnecessary ballast, which will lead to slowing down your website. This can be things like metadata from removed plugins, data related to past versions of templates or posts, etc. This can result in hundreds of extra rows in the database that have no use other than slowing down the website. Fortunately, we can recommend you a very capable plugin, which is WP-Optimize. It is proven just in the field of cleaning the WordPress database from “unwanted garbage”, and thus will help to optimize the website.

13) Limit the number of saved revisions for posts

As you must have noticed, WordPress automatically saves previous versions of your posts. Thus, it records its every modification (called revision). This has the advantage that it remembers a long time ago how your post looked like, so you can revert it to any previous version. On the other hand, it does increase the size of the database and the site may be slower over time as a result. If you want to limit the number of revisions that the editorial system will remember, you can do so by editing the wp-config.php file in the WordPress editor and inserting the following line (at the end of it, type the maximum number of revisions – for example, 3):

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );

14) Empty the recycle bin more often

By default, WordPress empties the recycle bin after 30 days. You have the option to shorten this limit, thus ensuring that you don’t unnecessarily burden the database with long-deleted posts. As in the previous tip, this can be done by editing the wp-config.php file in the WordPress editor, where you insert the following line (at the end of it, write the day when the files in the recycle bin will delete themselves – e.g. 7).

define( 'EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS', 7 );

15) Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

There are many other aspects to the speed of WordPress, such as: eliminating spam as much as possible (we have handy plugins for this, e.g. Akismet or Anti-Spam Bee) or monitoring websites for attacks (good plugins like: All-In-One Security (AIOS)) etc. As the saying goes, “No scholar has fallen from the sky!” If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to search the internet for more information or simply ask others. This is not a weakness, quite the contrary! If you need anything, you can also contact us – our door is always open :-).