For well over 10 years Google has been screaming about the importance of page speed.  Since July 2018, it has become official , Google started using mobile page speed as a ranking grade in their mobile search results. Since 60%+ of all website inter-action is now occurring with some type of mobile device it would be wise to pay attention to your mobile page speed.

Is Your Site On A Solid Foundation?
Pro-Theme vs Free Theme: Before digging into improving your page speed make sure that you are using a professionally developed and supported Word Press theme.  While the allure of using a free or inexpensive theme may speak to you, because of budget restraints or the why should I pay when I can get it for FREE? This mindset comes in line with general startup suggestions that recommend that people wanting to get started with a new blog or web site should keep all expenses low. Definitely, this advice makes sense, but it does not actually reflect tactical long-term thinking. Truth be told that those free or inexpensive themes will cost you greatly in the long run.

Another recommended step that you should take before determining your page speed is where you are hosting your site. Ensuring that you are using an excellent web host is a very wise move for your web site’s page speed success.  We suggest  SiteGround, A2 Hosting, InMotion Hosting.

Determining Your Site’s Page Speed
A few resources that can help you to determine each of your website page’s speed are Pingdom ToolsTest Your Mobile Website Speed and Performance – Think With GoogleMake the Web Faster, and GTmetrix , just to name a few of our favorites. These tools are a great place to start when figuring out what you need to do, but a bit of caution is advised. Consider the results and advice of these resources with a grain of salt. In other words, don’t make huge drastic changes all at once based on this information alone. Begin by testing each of your individual page’s speed. This will determine where you stand, then use this information to help you figure out exactly where and what needs improving.

NWWCC Test Results using Google's Mobile Speed

NWWCC Test Results using Google’s Mobile Speed

A typical recommendation that these resources might suggest would be to eliminate unnecessary program code “above the fold“. But be advised, some scripts are required to be above-the-fold to ensure that your website displays correctly.

For example, Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool may recommend that you need to remove a certain script and suggest this as being good for page speed improvement, even though it’s their very own javascript code they require that you place there for it to function.

Getting an Internal Server Error because you removed a script that is “above the fold“ could occur. Again, please be sure to consider these tools advice carefully.

Once you start seeing your page speed improve, you will be inspired to push forward and continue the work required to achieve your goal to increase page load speed, but be careful not to compromise your website’s user experience in the process. Ultimately, you need to ensure that your adjustments to boost page speed will not adversely affect your website’s functionality or user-friendliness.

Optimize Graphics and Images
We’ve found that in most cases, the biggest contributor to slow page speed for websites that we have been hired to help improve, are the images. Digital images usually weigh in around 4160px X 3120px (4-6 MB). While Word Press has an amazing ability to resize huge images to display correctly with the verbiage/text that it is displaying next to, sadly that image is still making the browser load the extra file size, (this will slow down your page load time).

What Size Should I Make Images On My Website?
If you are using an image for a background – we recommend 2500 pixels wide so the image remains sharp and not pixelated. This will immediately reduce the original image in half in regards to it’s file size. Images or graphics that reside next to your page verbiage/text – we recommend 1500 pixels wide, thus reducing the original image file size by as much as two-thirds.  Our image tool preference, and the one we recommend, is Photoshop – for $10/month, you can get a subscription from Adobe.  In our opinion, Photoshop is one of the best graphics editing tools created. Not only for reducing image file sizes, but you can play around with the image quality too. As a result, you’ll have visually enhanced images and reduced file sizes, all this achieved to help your page speed even before you compress your images.

Compressing your images means you can preserve your image quality while minimizing just how much download time is required to process them. Compressed graphics load quicker and do not crush your page as much. EWWW Image Optimizer, or Smushit are great WordPress plug-ins to help you with this.

While you are doing all this image work, this is also a perfect time to make sure all your graphics have an ALT attribute, this is big for SEO and just as important for visually impaired users

Minimize HTTP Requests
Each element of your page produces an HTTP request. The additional on-page elements you’ve got, the more HTTP requests must be made, and the more time it requires for your page to load. By optimizing the number of elements for your page, like combining stylesheets, decreasing scripts, and utilizing Cascading stylesheet as an alternative to images wherever possible helps you to increase your pages speed and improve the site’s performance.

Enable caching
Caching enables the pages for your web site to load more quickly. Rather than creating a new request for a page each time it requires to load, caching will save copies of your pages. So, once the same request is made, your hosting server is able to use the copy of the page and load it considerably faster than if it were processing the page as being a brand new request every single time.

Several great WordPress plugins to select from include:
Comet Cache, WP Super Cache, WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, Cache Enabler.

Minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
Extra sections of code also increase the size of your page. Get rid of excess spaces, line breaks, and indentations to help keep your code clean and pages lean. There are many resources to reduce unneeded or repetitive data without having any affect on the way your browser administers your site.

We recommend you select one these plugins:

Autoptimize,  Fast Velocity MinifyMerge + Minify + RefreshWP RocketWP Super Minify

Each of the Word Press plugins, listed above, both reduces HTTP requests and minifies code, so you only need to use one.

We hope you find this article useful and the information we’ve provided beneficial.

If you feel that any of these recommendations go beyond your skill set, and would like some assistance in implementing these techniques, NWWCC can help.

With over 20 years in the digital marketing and communications industry, NWWCC comprises a vast set of qualifications that include strategy, design, style and robust development. We’ve assisted numerous small businesses and nonprofits with an extensive range of digital marketing requests and challenges, maintaining a reputation for delivering results and solutions that create long term business relationships built on trust, consistency and hard work.

Contact NWWCC for a FREE consultation!