Performance and Site Optimization

If your site is not performing as fast as you’d like, there could be a few different issues. Our live demo is a representation of how fast your site should be. Results will vary depending on the items below. This post will outline the common issues that can slow your site down and the ways that you can correct these common issues.

Important Note Before Getting Started: While you are building and developing your site, it’s advised to turn off caching. This is especially important if you are working with our support team. It’s possible to implement a change, and not have it take place because a cached version of the page or various resources are loading instead of the latest version.

Plugins – Plugin management is a very crucial piece of making sure that your site continues to run smoothly. You have to make sure that you keep your plugins up-to-date, but even that isn’t enough to guarantee peak performance. Each plugin can hinder the performance of your site. The more plugins you have, the slower your site may perform. It is best to keep your plugin list down to only the plugins that you are using. If you have plugins that are not activated and you don’t use them, go ahead and remove them as well. Anything that you can do to cut down the amount of space used and the potential conflicts between your theme and/or plugins, the better off you will be.

Images/Content – Image compression is a crucial part of making your site load fast, but most people forget it and then are left wondering why their site loading speed is very slow. Images are one of the biggest part of your website. An image heavy site can still be quick if you watch out for some of the following:

First of all always try to use JPEG or GIF images rather than PNG images since they are smaller in size. A lot of people upload their big images and WordPress will crop them in all the different thumbnail sizes and you will insert the image with the proper thumbnail size in the post and then people think it’s all set. This is not the case. If you upload a big, uncompressed image, WordPress will crop that large image, which will make images that are still uncompressed. It is best to compress your images first, then upload them to WordPress, so that all of the cropped images will be compressed and optimized.

There are different ways on how to compress images. Below are a couple of services and WordPress plugins you can use to optimize your images for decreased loading times.

  • WP Smush Pro is a cloud based image optimizing plugin, that works on a API based system, that allows you with a few clicks to send your images for optimizing and also includes lossless compression with its Super Smush option.
  • is another cloud based image optimization service, the main difference being, they not only have a WordPress plugin you can use, but you can also optimize images directly on their website, rather than using the plugin.
  • Ewww Image Optimizer is another cloud based image optiomization plugin, that also allows you to optimize and compress images to decrease load times.

If you are creating images in Photoshop a common thing that people do wrong is save the images without using the option “Save for Web & Devices”. This is very crucial since you can set the compression and quality rate and other things which will lead to a smaller image size. Other image editing programs can do the same so always look in the documentation for image compression.

Server/Hosting – Sometimes slow speed can be the result of your hosting service. Some hosting services use shared hosting which can have an effect on speed. This is a very broad topic but the general idea is that some hosts are better than others. Here are a couple that we suggest looking into if you are experiencing slow speed time from your host.

  • DreamHost has an easy 1-click WordPress install that makes it dead simple to set up a new site. DreamHost is a Los Angeles based hosting provider that has been hosting sites since 1997.
  • Bluehost comes highly recommended within the blogging world. It also has an easy 1-click WordPress install. Bluehost is one of the top 20 hosting companies and host over 2 millions websites.
  • WP Engine provides best-in-class customer service on top of innovation-driven technology. They have over 30,000 customers in 120 countries. WP Engine makes managed WordPress hosting simple, scalable, and secure.

* Disclosure: the three links provided above are affiliate links. They won’t cost you anything additional and, if you use them and decide to purchase, we will earn a small commission.

Disable Features/Shortcodes You Are Not Using – The Intense plugin makes up a large part of the Intensity theme. You can go into the Intense admin options (Settings->Intense from the WordPress menu) and turn off shortcodes and/or custom post types that you are not using or do not plan to use. Doing this will eliminate the CSS and JS from being loaded. Preventing the CSS and JS from loading for these items will help speed up your page load times. One thing to point out, Intense does a good job of only loading what is needed for each page, but there is a cached CSS file that is stored that includes CSS for a number of the shortcodes. If the active shortcodes are changed from the Intense admin options, the cached CSS file is rebuilt. This cached file should also help to speed up your page load times because you are using one file rather than a bunch of separate files.

Use A Caching Plugin Like W3 Total Cache (W3TC)W3 Total Cache is a plugin that will make your website run smoothly. It will minify JS, CSS, and HTML. It also is integrated with CDN networks (more on this below) and many other tools for site performance. We use W3 Total Cache to speed up all of our sites.

With all of that said, we highly recommend using the W3TC plugin to optimize your site’s speed. All premium themes should be using a cache plugin and W3TC is the best one to use.

Consider Using gZIP Compression – gZIP compression is bundling (zipping) pages on a web server before the page is sent to the visitor. This saves bandwidth and therefore increases the loading speed of the page significantly. The visitors’ web browser then automatically unzips the pages. This compressing and unzipping only takes a fraction of a second.

The W3 Total Cache plugin offers gZIP compression as an option, so if you are using the W3 Total Cache plugin, you can easily enable the gZIP option. If you would prefer to control gZIP on your own, without the use of the W3 Total Cache plugin, you can easily accomplish this by adding just a few lines of code to your .htaccess file. The easiest way to enable the gZIP compression for your images, CSS and JS files is to add these lines to your .htaccess file in the root WordPress folder:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
Consider Using A Content Delivery Network (CDN) – Content delivery networks (CDN) are server networks that clone your site on all of their location nodes. This means that when your visitors request your site, it will be served by the closest server location, rather than the main datacenter of your hosting provider. For more information on that matter, check out these two very popular CDN’s and decide for yourself which will work best for you.

  • Cloudflare: We use Cloudflare on our theme and plugin demo sites. It works great, integrates nicely with W3 Total Cache, and best of all it’s free.
  • MaxCDN: MaxCDN is a great option and has very reasonable pricing for the services they provide.