How to Improve Your Site Speed

Do you want to know how to improve your site speed? We’ve talked about the importance of your website speed before. A faster website means visitors stay on your site longer, and speed improves accessibility.
Did you know there are some steps you can take, as a website owner, to improve your WordPress site’s speed?

How to Improve Your Site Speed

First, run your website through a speed checker like tools.pingdom.com. Enter your URL, and choose a location that’s nearest your audience.
learn how to improve your site speed with tools like Pingdom
When it has finished running, you’ll see some initial results.
In this example, you see that the page size is 13.7MB, which is quite large. Fortunately, Pingdom still finds it loads in 2.34 seconds, which is good for a site that size. But your real-life results may be slower than that.

You can make some small adjustments that can greatly improve your site speed.

your website's initial speed results
If you scroll further down the Pingdom results, under “Content size by content type”, you can see that images account for 12.8MB of the size.
That’s actually pretty good news, because adjusting images is one of the easiest ways to reduce a page’s size, and improve your website’s loading time.
images may make up a large part of your site's content
If you scroll further down to “File requests”, you can sort by “Response Total Size” and uncheck the “rising” box. Now you can see the files listed from largest to smallest.
In this example, you can see that the first six files listed by largest to smallest are images. That means we can reduce the page’s size and improve loading time fairly easily. You can click on each line to see the image in question.
reducing image size can improve your site speed

How can you reduce image size to improve your site speed?

STEP 1: Resize Images

First things first: always keep a copy of your larger, original image somewhere safe.
This allows you to try different methods of resizing and create the right size for your purposes, while ensuring you can always start again from your original if you need to.
Images under 5MB
Start by saving the images to be resized from your website to your computer. Then upload them or drag and drop them into the box on the TinyJPG website.
shrink your images with TinyJPG
Once they have been resized, download them one by one or as a zip file. (Keep reading below to see how to replace them on your website.)
Note that TinyJPG won’t handle images over 5MB in its free version.
Images over 5MB
If you have images over 5MB, like the first one listed above, try PicResize.
Browse to find your image, or drag and drop it from your computer to the website, then click on “Continue to edit picture.”
upload your large image to PicResize
Under “Select a new size for your picture,” you can choose a size (in pixels). For a full-width image, you generally don’t need anything larger than 3000 pixels wide at most, and you can go much smaller if your image will only display on a fraction of the page’s width.
Under “Save As” choose “JPG” and choose the quality you prefer. Then click on “I’m Done, Resize my Picture.”
shrink your images to improve your site speed
Then save the smaller image to your computer.
You can see the new image size listed.
If the image still isn’t quite small enough, as in this example, you can now run the smaller version through TinyJPG.
download your smaller image

How to replace your large images with your new, smaller versions

To replace the larger versions with the smaller ones on your WordPress site, install the Enable Media Replace plugin, available free in the WordPress plugin repository. You can click on the image in the media library and then replace it with your new, smaller version. See instructions for using Enable Media Replace here.

Note: Initially, you entered your website’s home page into Pingdom for testing. That means it tested only that one page. If you’re concerned about the size of other pages on your site, you can repeat the same process on every page by entering each page’s URL into https://tools.pingdom.com/, and that will help you find images you could resize.

STEP 2: Resize images going forward

Ideally, your images should be a few hundred KB at most, and smaller is better as long as you’re not compromising quality, either. You can install Smush, a plugin available in the WordPress repository, to resize your images (they must be 2MB or smaller to be resized by the free version). The plugin can resize your images when you upload them, and you can also run it on images already present on your site.

STEP 3: Make sure your WordPress software, plugins, and themes are up to date

You should also make sure your WordPress system and plugins are up to date. Keeping your site on the latest version of software and plugins is the best way to keep it secure, but upgrades can also include speed improvements. Check out our tips on how to upgrade safely.

STEP 4: Add a caching system to improve your site speed

Another easy step to take after you resize & replace the images is to add a caching system if you don’t have one. Among free options, we like WP Fastest Cache.
Once you’ve taken these steps, run your site through Pingdom again, and see how your page size has shrunk and your site speed has improved!
Need further help? Get in touch.

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Alisa Cognard

Alisa was one of the first team members to join Red Earth Design, Inc. in early 2004. From data entry, she progressed to MySQL database manipulation and PHP coding. Alisa is responsible for all kinds of odds and ends: installing new websites, adding features to them, programming databases, PHP coding, website troubleshooting, website security, and organizational tasks for Red Earth Design.

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