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5 Hidden Pitfalls in Your WordPress Website Performance (And How to Fix Them)

>Website Performance
Today, a quarter of all new websites are built on WordPress. A flexible and user-friendly platform, WordPress is one of the top content management systems for business owners and developers alike.

But when it comes to web performance, WordPress has consistent speed, scalability, and accessibility risks, including the likes of site outages and page errors, overloaded site infrastructure, and reduced online conversions.

Luckily, there are ways to solve these site issues without switching to a different CMS (your marketing team can thank us later). We’ve compiled five of the most common problems in WordPress website performance below, and, more importantly, given you the answers – it’s not cheating, we swear. 

1. A heavy front end 

site loading slowBecause WordPress sites are so easy to design and create, there’s not much focus on initial web performance. “Is this graphic too large?” is not a huge concern when it’s easy on the eyes and easy to upload. As a result, WordPress pages tend to be very front-end heavy, weighing several megabytes (MB) instead of the average 100-600 kilobytes (KB). is a good example; its homepage has 241 round-trip requests and weighs 2.7MB. It also contains 42 Javascript files with a total size of 270KB. WordPress may be popular because of its design flexibility but beware of consequential overloads that drag down performance and speed.

How to fix it: 

Employ a content delivery network (CDN) to help deliver the static site files as quickly as possible; because a CDN allows your files to be served from the server closest to the site visitor, it’s a solid basic best practice to employ, especially on a WordPress-hosted site. Next, resize any images that are too large; this will automatically boost site speed.

If you still have a lot of heavy assets images or want to improve even further, optimize them for website speed using a free image compressor like ImageAlpha or ImageOptim (here’s our handy how-to guide). You can also combine CSS files manually or through one of the recommended plug ins. Delivery time will improve when the site isn’t reliant on loading too many individual files.

2. Too many third-party assets

Website PerformanceYour website should be a marketing machine. More often than not, that means embedding third-party components and widgets from Facebook, Twitter, Google Ads, and Analytics, video, and live chat assets to enhance engagement. These features are easier than ever to integrate using WordPress, as many popular third-party sites have standard plugins available.

Typically, relying on these third-party components means:

  • Potentially large assets that you can’t compress yourself;
  • Multiple requests back to those domains, and;
  • Reliance on third-party delivery systems

Basically, they’re a bunch of third-party animals.

How to fix it: 

Remove any unnecessary or slow third-party assets on your website, or search out replacements for popular ones, such as social media sharing widgets. Try to cut down the number of widgets on the homepage, and save the important ones for more shareable secondary pages, like blog posts. You can also optimize the code to load these scripts asynchronously to increase speed.

3. Problematic plugins

Website PerformanceWordPress is ripe with plugins. Many of them are great, but in reality, it only takes one bad plugin to drastically impact your website performance. A poorly-coded plugin can present itself as an issue within the WordPress editing system, preventing your ability to post new content, resize images, and save changes.

Some front-end plugins require custom styling, which means additional CSS or Javascript to load and a longer time to display for the end user. Others increase your database queries by pulling database-specific elements to the front-end display.

How to fix it:

Use plugins carefully. For example, W3C Total Cache, although a popular tool, copies sites’ URLs and caches them, which can break the site from time to time. Do research into the most trusted options and have a sense of what you’re integrating into your site. For customized front-end plugins, you can unregister the extra styles and scripts and combine the files into your CSS and javascript files

3. Scalability issues

The typical WordPress deployment architecture is to use PHP + MySQL on a single server instance; because of this, WordPress sites are dynamic and need to be built each time a user accesses it. While it’s easy to get started with this system, scalability soon becomes an issue.

Website Performance

When the traffic volume goes up, the site can slow and is unable to scale with traffic requests. It also impacts server load, as requesting the same sources again and again over time increases the risk of server downtime. In this scenario, your slow site becomes an inaccessible site.

How to fix it:

Set your WordPress account up to cache so that your dynamically generated page is stored on the server as a static page, and doesn’t need to be fetched as a new request. There are a few recommended plugins, like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, that are popular options. But you can also custom cache your site or experiment with creating your own caching widgets.

5. No mobile optimization

As of now, WordPress sites are not automatically optimized for mobile. So when 75% of users say they’ll leave a website if it takes longer than five seconds to load on their smartphone, the risk for lost conversions is high. If you combine heavy images, third-party assets, and problem plugins on a standard desktop site your mobile user isn’t going to become a repeat customer. 

mobile user statistics

How to fix it: Trim the fat: optimize your front end by compressing or reducing images and cutting back on third party components. From here, there’s no reason you need to create a separate mobile site or re-invest in a responsive site after the fact – unless you feel like it, that is! The next option is to look at specific plugins available for rendering a mobile site (again, always be aware of pitfall #3) and to explore mobile-friendly WordPress themes. There are many packages that have been created to optimize your site easily and quickly. 

Moving forward…

1. Set up free site monitoring

The best way to gauge your website performance is to continuously monitor and measure site user experience. Pay particular attention to the way your visitors interact with the site, and prioritize performance based on the most popular actions taken.

2. Download resources to help you optimize your WordPress site performance by hand

For more insight into how you can easily monitor and optimize your WordPress site, check out our step-by-step eBook on site performance techniques: 11 Techniques to Make Your Website Rock. Need more? Our resources section is chock full of web performance optimization tips, tools, and plans.

3. Automatically optimize your site with Yottaa for WordPress

No time to hand-correct? Our Yottaa for WordPress solution might be right for you. We can optimize your WordPress site for performance, availability, scalability, and security with our easy-to-use cloud service. You can try it for free below to see how fast your site could be on Yottaa.


Yottaa Ebook A Beginner's Guide to Web Performance Download


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