Photos are a great way to add some personality to your site. They’re also one of the quickest ways to bog your site down. It’s really easy to upload images to your site without paying much attention to the process. However, asking your site to load a huge background image can add seconds to each page’s load time. Luckily, WordPress is well equipped to manage a large amount of photos if they are properly optimized.
If you are using a photo editing software like Photoshop, it most likely has “Save for Web” functionality. This is the easiest way to compress images without sacrificing much quality. For best results, try keeping background images under 200KB if possible, and other in-page images smaller than that.
If you don’t have access to a photo editing software, or already have tons of images in your site’s media gallery, you can optimize them with a plugin like like Smush Image Compression and Optimization.
If you have tons of images on your site, this change alone should greatly reduce page load time.
Other Media Files
Musicians generally have tons of media on their sites in addition to photos. Audio and video files hosted on your server can increase page load time as well. If you’re asking your site to call images and buffer huge audio files all at the same time, you’re asking your visitors to wait.
It may seem logical to include studio quality audio files so that your audience hears your music the best way possible. However, if they’re waiting minutes for the songs to load, they probably won’t stick around to listen at all. For this reason, we recommend uploading semi-low quality files (around 128kbs) to reduce download time. Files of this size should start playback relatively quickly, even over a mobile connection.
Stream audio and video from other sources
One of the nice things about AudioTheme is that audio and video files can be streamed from an external source. As long as you have the direct file path, you can stream your mp3s from a cloud data network, allowing their servers to do the heavy lifting. Amazon S3 and BackBlaze are two examples of cloud storage platforms where you can host your mp3s and other media assets.
Similarly, you can use a service like YouTube or Vimeo to embed your videos. This frees up your site’s resources, enabling your WordPress pages to be served faster.
A caching plugin is one of the best ways to immediately speed up a site. These plugins work by generating static HTML files. HTML files load much faster than typical WordPress PHP scripts, and will be served to most of your site’s visitors, drastically cutting load time.
We’re fans of WP Super Cache, since it’s intuitive and designed to be aware of when page changes are made. It gives you control over specific configurations and cache types, allowing you to experiment and find out which settings result in the quickest load time.
If you’re looking for a plugin with even easier installation and management, you can check out Simple Cache.
As a heads up, some hosts have started to include their own performance plugins. So, take a look around your WordPress dashboard before installing another caching plugin.
Regardless of which caching tool you choose, be sure to flush the cache after making minor changes. While making major changes to your site, you’ll want to disable caching plugins altogether, as they can prevent your changes from showing up.
Excessive Plugins and Outdated Software
The WordPress plugin directory is awesome, you can find a plugin for nearly anything you need, and a lot of things you don’t. This means a ton of WordPress sites end up with too many plugins. It’s not uncommon to find a site that has several different plugins installed to do exactly the same job.
It’s a good idea to audit your plugin area on a regular basis. Updates to WordPress core and themes can sometimes add functionality that means you no longer need specific plugins. If you are not using plugins, deactivate and delete them.
The same can be said for your themes. Odds are fair that you have several themes hidden away in the appearance section of your dashboard. If you’re not utilizing them, or planning to in the future, go ahead and clear them out.
Be sure to stay on top of your updates as well. In addition to added features, many developers are making general improvements to their plugins and themes to allow them to load more quickly or be more secure. Even if you’re not seeing exciting new features in the changelog, it’s a good idea to stay up to date with the latest versions.
One of the largest factors in slow loading sites is hosting environment. Regardless of how optimized your site, content, and theme are, your site will load slowly if your host doesn’t have adequate resources.
While economy level hosting plans meet the minimum requirements of WordPress, your resources may be stretched thin if your site is getting a fair amount of traffic. If your site is loading slow or timing out, it is most likely due to poor hosting performance. For sites with a fair amount of traffic, we’d recommend purchasing at least the middle tier of hosting from most companies.
Our recommended host is SiteGround. Not only does SiteGround offer reasonably priced hosting packages with plenty of resources, they also have industry leading support. We have seen them treat customers the right way for many years. You can learn more about SiteGround here. We do have an affiliate account with SiteGround, which that link will lead to. Should you choose to host with SiteGround, we’ll be given a small percentage of the sale. If you are unhappy with your current host, SiteGround will actually move your entire environment to their servers for you free of charge.
Learn more about selecting the right host.
These optimization techniques will go a long way in speeding up your band’s WordPress site. If you find that your site is still running slow after making the above changes, using a speed test tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom can be helpful in diagnosing hangups. Your host may also be able to help you determine what is causing performance issues on your site.