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Why is my WordPress site so slow?

Why is my WordPress site slow? The WordPress CMS uses a dynamic architecture to create dynamic websites with adaptive content. Various processes need to be operating efficiently to maximise the performance of your site.

Has your WordPress site been slow from day one, or has it suddenly begun operating poorly? If the former, you should start by considering each of the below factors:

Inadequate hosting

The quality of your hosting service can make or break your site’s speed. Opting for a cheap hosting plan may save you money in the short term but it will cost you in SEO and page rankings and consequent website traffic. Not ideal when you’re trying to market a product or a service and your business relies on conversions. When you send your car in for a service, you choose a mechanic or a service centre that you trust and that knows a thing or two about your vehicle’s make and model. In the same way, when choosing a host for your WordPress site, choose one that specialises in WordPress hosting. The generic, all-in-one hosts often charge less than the price of your morning espresso for monthly hosting because the only point on which they can compete is price. If you need a managed WordPress hosting service, we at Mshini love to help. Click here to view our plans.

Too many plugins

Often we get carried away when building a site. We browse to the WordPress plugin directory and see a myriad (59 746 at the time of writing) of free plugins, each one claiming to be a need rather than a want. Before we know it we’ve installed and activated a list of plugins as long as our arm, some useful and some less so. Take note… each additional plugin adds bloat and makes your site a little bit slower to load and also to browse. Time to revisit those plugins to keep only the most essential ones and to bin the rest. Remember to deactivate them and delete them afterwards for good measure.

Unoptimised images and files

Sure, high-quality images look amazing and make your site pop. They also significantly slow down your site’s loading time. Image optimisation plugins like EWWW and SMUSH are freely available for WordPress and will automatically reduce the size of images uploaded to your site, often without a noticeable difference in image quality. Free online image compression tools like Optimizilla will do much the same thing and while, not as convenient as the plugins, they’re not plugins and don’t add bloat to your site.

Low quality theme or framework

Just like large images and files slow down your site, so does using an elaborate or low-quality theme or framework. Your theme is a vital part of your website and it’s worth spending some time researching and familiarising yourself with a theme before settling. Popular themes and frameworks ought to have a plethora of ratings and performance reviews online and it would be a great idea to read feedback from the fans and also the critics to ensure that your theme/framework of choice is a quality one.

No website caching

What caching essentially does is save a static version of your site as a file that can be loaded almost instantly when someone visits a page. Without caching, every element on the page would need to be loaded dynamically and data fetched from your site’s database. This all takes time. Caching will greatly reduce the number of resources that your site has to load, resulting in a better all-round experience for the visitor. The downside to caching is that, after making changes to your site, you will need to purge your site’s cache to ensure that your audience is always viewing an up-to-date version of your website. If you’re already a Mshini user, you will be familiar with the “Clear Cache” button in your customer control panel. This is because Mshini servers have website caching baked into the architecture meaning that you don’t need to install any 3rd party caching plugins. We’ve done the work for you.

If your site has been operating great until recently but has suddenly (or even gradually) gotten worse, you should consider looking into the below:

Cluttered WordPress database

WordPress databases are usually full of unnecessary clutter in the form of comments, unused data and content. This clutter increases the size of your database and results in database queries taking longer to complete. You should routinely delete unwanted comments, data and content as part of good housekeeping. This will ensure that your site remains as lightweight and efficient as possible.

Outdated WordPress, theme or plugin versions

Have you or your website developer been slack and neglected to update your WordPress, theme or plugin versions? Doing so may not only improve your site’s performance but will also better secure your website against threats. As with most things that evolve, WordPress and the available themes and plugins are no different. Developers tend to stay abreast with technological advancements and utilise said advancements when updating their code. An example would be updating their code to make their themes and plugins compliant with the latest version of PHP and all of the performance (and security) benefits that it offers over previous versions.

Mshini customers benefit from automatic WordPress, theme and plugin updates reducing the admin burden on the site owner/developer. You should chat with your host to find out if they offer something similar. Each website is unique and there is no single solution when it comes to your site’s performance. Your site may be impacted by one (or many) of the abovementioned issues. It’s important that you or your developer conduct a thorough review before you try to fix any problems.