What makes a WordPress website slow?
It’s sometimes easy to sit back, relax, and blame the CMS (Content Management System) for being slow. But is this really the case? No, and I’ll explain why, by simply dismissing the myth that WordPress is slow due to its poor system architecture.
It simply is not true.
Additionally, let’s find out what a series of common speed related issues are and how to fix them. So instead of sitting back, relaxing and blaming WordPress, let’s sit back, relax and figure out what the common causes of a slow WordPress website actually are.
Dismissing the myth, why WordPress isn't slow
You’re probably having similar thoughts to many WordPress users right now, “why is WordPress so slow”, “why is WordPress so popular when it’s so slow”, “WordPress speed issues are driving me insane”, etc etc. Your thoughts are aligned in unison with a lot of people who use WordPress.
But, are the issues the fault of WordPress or the fault of a badly developed theme and the installation of a junkyard of plugins a lot of which has functionality in the graveyard that’s still active and being processed yet never utilised?
The problem is that a lot of WordPress websites have been built by design agencies who are simply winging the development side, they have the design skills but they don’t have the development skills, so they install plugin after plugin.
Similarly, a lot of WordPress users install a theme and a lot of plugins and claim they have built a website.
Neither are experts on WordPress at a code level, but both types of WordPress website are extremely common and take up a good percentage of the number of WordPress websites that exist today, hence the complaints. But again, this is not the fault of WordPress.
So is WordPress slow when a website is correctly built? Well let’s take a look, simply by heading to the WordPress website and viewing their showcase examples. I’m just going to pick a couple of showcase websites that I like, and see how they perform.
TechCrunch.com – Extremely popular source of tech news
TechCrunch, you may have heard of it, it’s an extremely popular and renowned tech website. At a best guess, I assume it has millions of visitors a month. So how long does it take to load? 20 seconds? 10 seconds? 5 seconds? 2 seconds?
Being as it’s extremely popular and runs on WordPress, it loads in less than 3 seconds. Compare that with your own website traffic + loading time. How do they achieve this?
Nginx.com – Alternative server technology to Apache 2 and others
NGINX is an extremely popular alternative to the Apache 2 web server technology, and while they’re likely running WordPress on their own server technology, we can see that WordPress is not running slowly. So why is this? WordPress is always slow right? But NGINX has a speed index of 1.2 seconds!
Well, that’s a couple of websites from the showcase, and as you can probably see, neither have any major speed loading issues yet they’re likely serving 10000 times more users than a typical WordPress website, a day, if not more. So what is the problem, why is your WordPress website not loading fast?
The WordPress problem
You’re probably feeling the pain of a running really slow WordPress website right now, right? As mentioned above, one of the major complaints about WordPress is that it is slow, sluggish, it does not load fast, etc, etc.
One of the most common reasons for this is simply because you are using a poorly optimised theme or you have too many plugins installed.
But you went to a professional design agency right? Or perhaps not, you may have attempted to build your own WordPress homepage.
Either way, both design agencies and general WordPress users have the tendency to bloat their WordPress installation with a mass of plugins, this isn’t the fault of anybody, not everybody understands how to code, even some design agencies have certain code limitations.
But WordPress Plugins, they’re everywhere, so they’re great, right?
Yes plugins are great, but only if correctly utilised and optimised and kept low in quantity. A WordPress plugin must be 100% necessary for its task. But, all too often WordPress websites install a vast array of plugins that aren’t necessary at all, they perform simple tasks, yet, load a lot of different assets and increase query demands on your database. For example, you may install the Elementor theme and one of its power packs, but you only require one feature from its power pack, yet you have all of the features that power pack provides enabled in the background.
This is perhaps why you may require a bespoke WordPress developer! A bespoke WordPress developer understands WordPress at a code level, they understand your server, your networking, your database and everything else that may be affecting your website speed.
So, whether you’re a design agency or a user, here is a list of the main reasons why your WordPress website may be slow:
- As mentioned above, you have too many plugins enabled. (You may required a full rebuild).
- Also mentioned above, you have a poorly optimised theme. (You may require a full rebuild).
- You have all of the features of plugins enabled but you do not required them all.
- You have not fully utilised the amazing speed improvements that can be made by using a caching plugin such as LiteSpeed or W3TotalCache.
- You’re on a very slow shared server.
- You have a very slow DNS server. (You should the extra a layer of security and speed improvements offered by services such as CloudFlare).
- You have not optimised your Apache2 server.
- You have not optimised your PHP configuration.
- You have not optimised your MySQL configuration.
- You’re not using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to deliver your imagery and other assets.
- You have not optimised your WordPress configuration.
- Your images are not compressed or your images are not optimised for your image display sizes.
The impact of a slow WordPress website
Having a slow loading website is a disaster in multiple ways:
- It affects your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Google and other search engines do not like a slow loading website as it disappoints their users.
- It affects your Bounce Rate (The number of people that abandon your website), nobody wants to wait for your website to load.
- If affects your ability to insert and update your content. Ever felt impatient while your website loads? Did it stop you from being as productive as you could be? I bet it has.
- It prevents search engines such as Google from indexing your whole website as they’ll be may be met with 500 internal server errors or reach their timeout limits (the amount of time they have to crawl a page before they move on elsewhere).
How to fix a slow WordPress website
The best solution for your WordPress speed issues, as I think you may agree, is to hire a bespoke WordPress developer who can:
- Take a look at your existing installation (theme and plugins).
- Diagnose what is reducing your WordPress website speed.
- Configure CloudFlare to improve your DNS speed and website security.
- Optimise your Apache 2 and MySQL installation.
- Optimise your WordPress configuration.
- Optimise your PHP configuration.
- Configure caching to improve website performance.
- Migrate your website to a new host if necessary.
- Optimise your images and render the appropriate sizes for their display.
- Or perhaps, even rebuild your WordPress website from scratch (matching your existing design)
So why use WordPress and why isn't it slow?
Simply put, WordPress isn’t slow, because by default it is rather fast. It becomes slow by bad configuration, maintenance and design. Is this the fault of WordPress? My answer is a resounding no. Whatever you fail to configure will be badly maintained which will become sluggish which is a bad design, and bad designs are never optimised. So here are my top four reasons to continue using WordPress.
Reason #1 – WordPress is SEO Friendly
WordPress is a search-friendly platform with an easy to use built in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Google appreciates how WordPress organises website content, forming a relationship that makes your website built to rank.Page URLs can be easily modified to make them search-friendly. There are many free and premium plugins available to easily create search-friendly sitemaps, content metadata and navigation breadcrumbs that take your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies further.
Reason #2 – WordPress is open source
Owing to the popularity of WordPress, its features are always expanding thanks to a very large and active open source community. It has thousands upon thousands of available and easy to install third-party plugins.
Reason #3 – WordPress is easy to use
There is nothing to fear when using WordPress to manage blog articles, content and media. The WordPress CMS (Content Management System) simplifies content publishing in a largely unrivalled manner. It is a regularly updated platform, that is fun to use and is also highly customisable.
Reason #4 – WordPress is popular
Why trust me to optimise your WordPress website?
Well there are two simple reasons, I can do it, and I can prove it.
How? Well I built ryanormrod.com. Take a look at how my website ranks in Google Page Speed insights.
Alright so you’ve done it once, so what? Not true, I have done it many times for lots of clients. But, here is another example from a website I have built (mindyourwater.com). Go ahead, try it out on Page Speed Insights.
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