People aren’t as patient as they used to be. These days it’s fast food, instant coffee, and text messaging from the bathroom. People hate to wait. This attitude applies most forcefully to the Internet and the people who use it. Yes, it’s now easier to acquire knowledge than it ever has been in human history, but people aren’t willing to take a few seconds for something to load. People routinely expect pages to load in under 2 seconds.
If you can’t deliver what they want as fast as they want it you’re going to be looking at some very unimpressed customers. Now that the importance of keeping people engaged is clear, there comes a problem: your pages aren’t loading as quickly as they once did. Before you go and call your web hosting service, take a look at these nine common culprits for slow page loading times. See if there’s anything that you can do, to fix it yourself.
The first culprit for slow loading times are often widgets. These little programs are very easy to add to wordpress sites and can be useful. They can tell you how people move around the site, how long they stay on each page, and more. These are great and clearly useful, but they can pose a big problem for page loading speeds.
A good way to deal with this is to simply turn them off most of the time, and only turn them on when you really want to collect that data. While this won’t give you the complete information dump, you have to prioritize a quick customer experience on some level. This is also a good temporary measure; turn off your widgets as the first step and then go down the list, optimizing the rest of the settings as you go. When you’re done with that you can turn the widgets back on and see how nicely they play with your optimized settings.
Round Trip Information Seeking
When someone views your site, some of the information they seek can be cached. This means that their internet browser saves parts of your website and then fills in the blanks with “fresh” information. If you want to load each page more quickly you can cut down on the trips that a signal has to take to your server by cutting down on non-cached content. This means fewer unique graphics and more artistic whitespace, which when done properly will also give your site a sleek, modern look.
Caching Is Turned Off
Speaking of caching, before you go pulling down your graphics you should at least make sure that caching is turned on. For things that you expect to remain stable on your site (for example, the background texture), set cache to “expire never”. This simple change means that the computer won’t have to look for a confirmation every time someone visits your site. Obviously, this is better for everyone involved.
Graphics with Too High a Resolution
One key flaw that many people setting up their own sites don’t realize is that huge graphics files aren’t needed. The Internet has a set resolution. Even if your images are huge—megabyte files—they’re not going to look any better than a lower quality image that is still the resolution of the Internet. This means that you can go in, take down the huge files you have posted, make lower resolution copies, put those up… and no one will ever know that you changed anything on your site. It’s going to look exactly the same but it’s going to load much faster.
Videos That Autoplay
There are two reasons why you shouldn’t do this: first, it forces the computer to load the entire video when someone visits the page, instead of when the video is requested. This means that your visitor is waiting for something without even knowing what it is or why it’s taking so long. When you’re using a reliable wordpress hosting site, your viewers aren’t going to be used to lag.
Secondly, these videos are annoying. They often start playing as soon as they come into view, whether the person is ready or not. The viewer might not have expected that, they might be in public with the volume turned all the way up. They might not have finished reading the introductory paragraph. Switch your videos back to play by request and you’ll have happier viewers with less of a loading time delay.
Ads can help a blog swim instead of sink but you have to factor them into your page loading times. If you’ve optimized your site but you’re still running at a crawl, you might have to take a look at what advertisers are doing to your site. It can be tough to figure out a compromise between what brings in money and your user experience. It’s something you have to work on if you want happier visitors.
You’re Not Using a CDN
A content delivery network is a mark of reliable wordpress hosting. These systems ensure that information isn’t coming from just one central location. Every segment can only handle one request at a time. Thus, giving a viewer’s computer multiple streams of information lets them assemble the website faster with fewer snags and bumps. Talk to your hosting provider about getting access to their content delivery network if you don’t have it already.
A cool dissolve effect on your digital photography portfolio slideshow is cool. But heavy animations can seriously slow down page load times. Check your layout and make sure that you’re spending your time and resources wisely. You don’t have infinite time for viewers to wait, so see if there’s an equally attractive way to present that content that doesn’t hog the bandwidth.
Your Web Host Itself
If you’ve done all of these steps and you’re still don’t see your website load speed improving, talk to your web host. You can only go as swiftly as they allow. Depending on your plan with your web host, you might have limited bandwidth. This issue can usually be resolved by upgrading your plan.
If that’s the best they can offer, it might be time to look for better hosting providers.