It’s no secret that when it comes to WordPress, speed matters. Playing a critical role in determining your search rankings and -more importantly- the user experience you deliver, maintaining optimal performance remains a crucial challenge for many WordPress users.
Of course, there are countless tools, techniques, and strategies to help you optimize your site for performance, but with so many moving parts to the average website, not to mention the regular theme, plugin, and core file updates, staying on top of things can often seem like a constant uphill battle.
To help you, we turned to a team of expert WordPress developers, designers, and optimization specialists and asked them for their top performance tips.
Here’s what they told us:
Choose Optimized Hosting
Remkus de Vries is an experienced WordPress veteran from the Netherlands with a passion for performance optimization.
Among the many valuable tips he shared with us, this reminder about the importance of choosing the right hosting is certainly worth repeating:
“You get what you pay for with hosting. If you’re just getting the cheapest plan possible or even close to it, you can be sure your site isn’t running on an optimized hosting environment.
“This is going to hurt you at some point. Since speed is a well-known ranking factor, it absolutely pays to get the best you can possibly afford.”
If you’re looking for recommendations for WordPress-optimized hosting, you might want to check out our reviews of the following companies:
You can also check out our guide to the five best managed WordPress hosting options for 2023
Article Continues Below
Do Your Homework When it Comes to WordPress Themes
Kevin David is a WordPress developer based in California who specializes in creating responsive, fast-performing WordPress themes.
David notes the importance of doing your due diligence when it comes to selecting a new theme, offering WPLift the following advice:
“When it comes to performance, I think the biggest challenge is understanding how to install and use themes properly.
“Many users don’t realize that a poorly installed theme can have a massive impact on the performance of their WordPress site.
“My top tip is to make sure that you research the theme thoroughly before installation. Check to see if it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress, and remember to read the reviews.
“It’s also important to keep your themes up to date and delete any themes you’re no longer using to ensure the best performance.”
Migrate to Headless WordPress
Pixylo is a web agency specializing in turning lackluster websites into valuable, high-performing digital assets, so you could say they know a thing about WordPress performance optimization.
When we reached out to the team for their advice, they were eager to tell us all about Headless WordPress.
“The most common issue we see with regard to performance is always related to images.
“With new image formats emerging and things like compression, lazy loading, and Content Delivery Networks to consider, it becomes a lot to deal with.
“With Headless WordPress, you can have the best of both worlds, using WordPress purely as a CMS while employing lightning-fast new technology such as Nextjs on the frontend (user-facing) side.
“Companies like Backlinko are already using Headless WordPress. Their website is an excellent example of what a difference it makes to performance.
“The best part is that migrating to headless WordPress can be a very smooth process, so you don’t have to spend much time improving your site speed.”
Improve Your Page Speeds with Caching
Nathan D’Mello is a WordPress expert and current product manager at Newfold Digital, the company behind many well-known web brands such as Bluehost, Hostgator, and Domain.com.
On the subject of improving page speeds, Nathan recommends employing caching tools to reduce the time it takes each page to load.
“Imagine you’re hosting a busy blog with many visitors, and the server has to generate a page on the fly every time someone visits. This slows down page load time, but with caching enabled, the server stores a static version of the page and delivers that instead, which is faster and helps reduce server load.”
To employ page caching, Nathan recommends the following tools:
WordPress Performance is an Ongoing Job
Paul Olorunrantimi is an independent WordPress developer and Elementor expert from Columbus, Georgia.
Paul reminds us that while adding caching plugins and other tools is important, this isn’t a case of set-it-and-forget-it.
“The key is to continuously monitor and improve website speed and efficiency,” says Paul. “The WordPress ecosystem is constantly evolving, and as your site grows with more content and plugins, it’s essential to monitor and improve website speed and efficiency.
“Continuous monitoring can help identify and resolve performance issues before they become major problems. This includes using tools to measure website speed, regularly checking server logs, and conducting regular website audits. Additionally, implementing performance optimization techniques, such as using caching plugins, reducing image sizes, and minimizing the use of heavy plugins, can also help improve website speed and efficiency.”
Remkus de Vries agrees.
“Test everything,” he says. “If you’ve changed something in your theme. Check what impact it has. If you add a plugin or change a setting, check the impact of those too.
“The easiest, though not the most complete, way to do this is by generating a Lighthouse report. You can do this in your browser by going to Inspect – Lighthouse.”
Expert Recommendations on WordPress Performance, Summed Up
Talking to Remkus de Vries, Kevin David, the Pixylo team, Nathan D’Mello, and Paul Olorunrantimi, one thing becomes clear:
While WordPress performance is vitally important, it’s far from complicated.
Opt for premium quality hosting, a lightweight theme, and a solid page caching plugin, and you’ll have already made significant progress in boosting your WordPress site speed.
From there, all that’s left to do is to pay close attention to the changes you make and how they affect performance, taking care of any problems as soon as they arise.
To better understand site performance and how to master it, see our detailed guide to optimizing core web vitals.