WordPress is arguably the world’s most preferred content management system (CMS) because of its ridiculous ease of use. Anyone who can use a word processor can create an adequate website using WordPress with little to no coding knowledge. However, with simplicity comes some very common mistakes that can slow down your site considerably. This is something you want to avoid. Statistics show that you can lose website visitors if they have to wait too long for your site to load.
Below are two of the most common mistakes that slow down WordPress sites – and solutions for fixing them! There are others we may address in future posts. These first two are fairly simple to fix even if your knowledge of HTML is rudimentary.
1. Allowing WordPress to Downsize Graphics
When you insert graphics into a WordPress page or post, you are given the option to determine certain characteristics depending on how you want those graphics to appear. You can also edit the properties of any existing graphics stored in your library. One of the most common mistakes WordPress users make is that of uploading very large graphics, then allowing WordPress to downsize them. Why is this a problem? Because WordPress does not actually change the physical size of your graphics. It simply embeds code in your site that tells the visitor’s web browser to display a different size.
Imagine a 1200 x 900 graphic being downloaded and presented in its original size by your web browser. Even with the fastest Internet connection, it is slow enough to be noticeable. If you inserted that same graphic into your WordPress site and configured it to display at 30% of its original size, the only thing that would change is the view of the visitor. His or her browser must still load the entire image before reducing its size for display purposes. Therefore, it is better to size your images to whatever you need before uploading them to your server. If you want to display a thumbnail of a larger graphic, for example, create your own thumbnail rather than allowing your visitors’ web browsers to scale images on the fly.
2. Utilizing Too Many CSS Files
No matter how fast a web browser is, it can only handle a limited number of HTML requests simultaneously. Normally this is not a problem, but it can be when a WordPress site utilizes too many CSS files. Multiple CSS files resulting in multiple HTML requests can quickly cause a browser to reach its limit, causing some files to wait until an active connection is open.
This problem can be solved by merging smaller CSS files into a single, larger file. Any CSS files in excess of 2 kB can be merged or inlined in your style.css file. If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of simple online tutorials to follow. Better yet, you can use Autoptimize, Better WordPress Minify, or any of the other plugins created specifically for this purpose.
If you take the steps to minimize those things that slow down your WordPress site, you will improve its performance and make for happier visitors. And remember, happy visitors are more likely to be return visitors. That’s what it’s all about.