The 5 biggest killers for your WordPress speed

Jan Hornung Last updated 15.01.2020
4 Min.
Performance Killer

We explain why your WordPress site is too slow despite fast hardware and special hosting and present the 5 most common causes for low WordPress speed.

We experience it almost daily: a customer writes to us in the support chat because his site just won't get faster. Despite server optimization, appropriate Plugins and sufficient computing power. Other customers, on the other hand, arehappy about blazing-fast sites . "How can this be?", we asked ourselves and have compiled the five factors that make WordPress particularly slow in our experience.

Let's make this quick. These are the top five WordPress speed killers:

  1. Missing caching
  2. Too many and not compressed images
  3. Uncompressed and non-summarized code
  4. Lack of above-the-fold optimization
  5. Way too big sites

WordPress Speed Killer 1: Missing Caching

Caching is a fast and highly effective way to make your site faster. A cache can be understood as a kind of short-term memory: For example, if the browser remembers what a web page looks like, it doesn't have to ask the server for the necessary data first, but the browser can load the site directly from the cache. This speeds up the page loading time for returning visitors immensely.

Now caching is not a simple topic. There are many different types of caches that can be included and activated in many different places. To quickly get an effective caching solution, one should rely on widely used and proven caching Plugins, such as WP Super Cache, Cachify or W3 Total C ache. You should also ask your host which caches they have enabled. You have a solid foundation if at least a browser and server cache are enabled.

A cache has the disadvantage that it is usually only used when the user has already visited site at least once. In many cases, however, it is important that the website builds up quickly and smoothly the first time. If you want to achieve this, you have to get to the page bacon.

WordPress Speed Killer 2: Pictures and graphics

Another killer for your WordPress speed are images and graphics. Optimizing them is an art in itself, because you have to consider a lot of factors: The file format, scaling, compression and much more[1].

Mostly, however, very simple behaviors, such as a plethora of unnecessary images or an unsuitable file format, lead to long loading times. Here, too, Plugins provides a remedy. These compress and optimize images during and after upload and increase your WordPress speed significantly. Examples are Optimus and WP Smush.

WordPress Speed Killer 3: unordered and uncompressed code

Every website consists of code. This determines pretty much everything that makes up your site : layout, color scheme, text and so on. Thus it is the construction manual of your site . But not all code is the same: Rather, you have to distinguish between CSS, JavaScript and HTML. These types of code are responsible for different areas of the website - CSS for images, for example, and JavaScript for animated content. Therefore, different types of code also show different loading behavior. This can lead to certain commands blocking each other.

Such charging bottlenecks or blockages will slow down WordPress considerably. It is therefore common practice to combine code into as few files as possible, compress them and put them in the best possible loading order.

You can hardly avoid a code jumble without appropriate knowledge of CSS, JavaScript or HTML. Therefore, there are also here Plugins, which help you to organize and summarize the code of your site . For example, Autoptimize and Better WordPress Minify should be mentioned here.

WordPress Speed Killer 4: Missing Above-the-Fold Optimization

All optimization is of little use if the user is not presented with a perceived faster site in the end. Because this perceived speed ultimately decides whether a site benefits from performance optimization.

In practice, a so-called above-the-fold optimization is therefore often carried out. Above-the-fold describes the area of a website that is visible without scrolling, so to speak the first impression that a user receives from a website. The aim of the optimisation is that this area builds up as quickly and smoothly as possible. For this purpose, the loading order of the visible elements is adjusted accordingly. All elements that do not belong in this area are placed at the back, since they are not visible at first and therefore not relevant for the first page impression.

Therefore, conceptual considerations are at the core of this type of optimization: You have to be clear about what content a user needs to be shown so that he or she completes the desired conversion. There is no quick and easy solution for this.

WordPress Speed Killer 5: Too Fat sites

Which brings us to our latest performance killer: the page count. Many slow sites ones are simply too big, have too many plugins installed, an unnecessarily large theme one, or are overloaded with images and graphics. This is good news! Because it means that in many cases the WordPress performance can be increased very easily. If you clean it site out regularly, you can usually keep your page load time at a good level.

Conclusion: Summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress, summarize and compress...

So basically, it all boils down to summarizing and compressing content. This is the only way to get the most out of your WordPress . The places where this works especially well are the images, the code and the overall concept of site . If you then also use caching and regularly muck out, you have created good conditions for an optimal use of the available server power.

So while host and servers determine the basic performance potential of your site , what you make of it is entirely up to you.

In the coming articles we will focus on the question of how to identify bottlenecks in your own WordPress performance and solve these performance brakes.

Of course there are other WordPress speed killers than those listed here. Can you think of any other particularly important point? Leave a comment and help the community to optimize theirs sites even better.


1]: Short introduction to the theory and practice of image optimization at WordPress by the colleagues from pressengers:

RAIDBOXER from the very start and our Head of Support. He loves talking about PageSpeed and website performance at BarCamps and WordCamps. The best way to bribe him is with an espresso – or a Bavarian pretzel.

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