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Optimizing Your WordPress Site

WordPress is relatively simple to set up and use, and there is no shortage of additional user content to help you customize your site and improve the user experience. However, you should proceed with caution when customizing your WordPress installation, as making too many changes to the setup of the site can quickly drag down its performance beyond any reasonable levels. What’s worse, sometimes those issues aren’t very straightforward to discover, and you’ll end up spending a lot of time hunting them down.
There are some things you can do to keep your WordPress site running as smoothly as possible in the long run, and while it does require some maintenance work on your part, it will definitely be worth the effort in the end. It’s actually not that hard to keep a WordPress site in an optimal condition, as long as you keep a few points in mind and have it hosted with a reputable provider.
Split pages into multiple parts
A common problem is a page that keeps getting larger and larger over time. This is usually the result of adding too much to your homepage, or trying to come up with a landing page that covers all fronts, as well as when you have a site that’s heavy in images.
Remember that images tend to be among the biggest offenders when it comes to sites slowing down unnecessarily, and you might be wasting a lot of resources on that front without even realizing it. There are a few things you can do to remedy this situation: first, you should consider compressing those images so that they take up less space and load faster.
If that’s not possible at this stage, you should look into splitting up the page into multiple smaller ones which still cover the same content, but distribute it across several loading instances. Users will get to load their next set of content faster, while your servers will thank you for the reduced load as well. Not only that, but this can save you a lot of traffic, because often your users are likely looking for one or two specific pictures and aren’t interested in all the rest that they still have to load.
Check your plugins
The huge developer community around WordPress is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you make use of it. There are numerous plugins out there for pretty much any purpose you can think of, and you don’t have to search long to find something that does the job for your current task.
However, adding on multiple plugins to your site without considering their long-term implications can quickly lead to disaster, and you should be very careful with what you’re installing. Some plugins can drag down the performance of your site severely for seemingly no good reason; others can expose you to security threats if they’re not designed properly.
It’s also possible that you may be currently using a plugin that satisfies you and works well on all fronts, but later on the developer for that plugin releases an update which changes everything and makes it significantly worse. This also sometimes happens for more malicious reasons, when a plugin gets “taken over”, although that’s a rare occurrence.
Third-party scripts
Last but not least, if you’re loading any scripts from third-party sites, you might want to run some tests to ensure that they are not impacting your performance negatively. Google does a great job hosting things like jQuery and other popular JavaScript libraries and frameworks, but things are different when the content is hosted on a smaller server owned by a less developed company.
It’s possible that you may be wasting a lot of performance loading scripts from those third-party sites, and you may not even realize it until it’s too late and you already rely on those scripts for multiple aspects of your site’s functionality. Nobody wants to do significant amounts of rework like that, so you should take some measures to ensure that you don’t actually get to that point.
If you can host something locally, try to do so when it will improve your performance. It’s not always possible, but there are many cases where it should work without any issues. Potential problems to consider are scripts that are updated very often, especially ones with potential security flaws that are regularly addressed. In those cases it might be a better idea to load the script straight from the original vendor’s site, as this will give you some guarantee for the validity of its version. Sometimes it might turn out that upgrading to a new version is actually detrimental to your security though, but those cases are very rare and are the exception, not the norm. In pretty much every other situation, you should always be striving to have the latest version of all scripts and plugins you’re running on your site.

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