The use of Optimization to improve your WordPress Site.

                                                                  How to improve optimization of a WordPress Site

 

What is optimization?

By basic definition, it can be classed as ‘the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource’.

This report will be focusing more on website optimization related to WordPress and how, through correct optimization it can help a site owner create a much more efficient site in the process, which in turn would please consumers and improve customer satisfaction. Most of the ways of improving optimization will be tailored to WordPress but may still be applicable to other areas.

Additionally, the report will also link at parts back to my current Venture Matrix Project where I’m working in a team for a client to provide a WordPress site to aid their business. This will be done frequently as through the course of developing the site, the use of optimization was vital in order to keep my client and his consumers satisfied. For example, the client needed a easy to read site, with a clear layout that was easy to navigate.

 

The importance of User interface optimization for your WordPress Site

A well optimized website would always outperform an  non-optimized one, both in terms of customer satisfaction and general user experience. For example, a non-optimized website may have clunky navigation, a cluttered layout, etc. Statics from an article by the “Digital Agency Network” state how a ‘ 1 second delay in speed can result in  7% reduction in conversions’. Additionally, they also state ‘ The Olympic store increased conversions by 7.74% by improving site navigation` These facts clearly state how important a well optimized site can be. The full article will be linked below for further clarification.

 

Ways to measure optimization of a WordPress Site

Whilst the next section will detail plugins which can improve optimization ways of measuring it are needed, for example we can only assume a site has gone faster but without a clear measuring tool there’s no certainty. You need tools to analyse the performance. One way is through PingDom.com. This site involves inserting your site into the URL and upon loading, a detailed description of your site is provided. It is graded, and shows the load time of each individual page. This tool allows you to monitor the root cause of what’s causing slowdowns and help act upon them. For my Venture Matrix Project, this would tool was highly useful as before using plugins, the score was an E, with 5-6 second load times, and eventually through the plugins mentioned below, the score improved to C, at around 1-3 seconds of load time. Sites such as this are a good way to measure how optimized a site can be,

 

Using Plugins to improve the optimization of a WordPress Site.

In regards to the website i worked on for my Venture Matrix Project, we eventually begun to see numerous slowdowns and increased loading times due to the plethora of plugins installed which began to slow down the site. Here below, are some of the different plugins i utilised in order to increase performance for the website. I will be describing each plugin in detail and explain how each was beneficial in certain circumstance to my own project.

 

WP – Optimize:  This plugin is used to optimise the database and remove extra tables and also remove any trashed and draft posts which are adding extra size to the pages. This performs optimization without the need for running manual queries via the database. Also carries on doing weekly automatic clean ups. This whole plugin removes any unnecessary data such as comments, trackbacks and transient options (Temporary Options). In relation to my own project, I found running this plugin helped reduced load times by at least 0.5 Seconds.

SG Optimizer: This plugin lets you minify files  such as HTML and Javascript as well as give you the option to combine CSS files. Minifying a file involves removing unnecessary formatting, white space, and code. This is a useful feature as every piece of unnecessary code adds size to the website page so it’s wise to remove it. This plugin also lets you you use GZIP compression which compresses files. This means quicker network transfers. GZIP is a standard practice most websites use. In relation to the website I worked on, this plugin wasn’t as useful due to not using much CSS. Additionally, our code, was formatted quite well so overall, the plugin in general, didn’t really help speed our site up. However, it can be useful for other sites with multiple CSS files, lots of code, etc.

SMUSH: This plugin was used to compress the entire images of websites into a lossless format. Which basically means that the data of the images will be kept and when the images are uncompressed the data will reappear. This plugin was useful for us, as we had included multiple images in the header sections therefore it allowed us to save space, and increased speeds. However, a downside to this plugin is sometimes when compressing images, there’s a significant loss of quality which can essentially ruin the images altogether. This happened on certain images, so it may be a dimension issue or may need to be updated in the near future.

W3 Total Cache

This plugin is one of the the most popular plugins to decrease load times. It uses a CDN which stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’  and additional features to help do this. In comparison to other plugins, it’s a complete framework. This means it doesn’t only focus on reducing CPU usage and bandwidth consumption for example. It also requires no specific modifications to get started or changes to the `htaccess` file. It’s a simple setup with lots of features to help optimise the site.  This is a complete plugin, it contains features from the other plugins such as minifying files, using various caching tools and JavaScript grouping. Overall, this plugin was useful as it contained many other features of the previous plugins. In terms of usefulness, this plugin was by far the one that helped improve the site speed the most due to the abundance of features packed into the plugin.  If using this plugin you can combine it with plugins such as SMUSH for additional performance improvements.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, through various plugins and visual site changes we managed to reduce the overall load times from 6 seconds to around 2. Because of this, the site now runs much smoother as opposed to before,  and whilst showing our site to the clients they noted how it ran smoothly and pages loaded fast. This again shows how important optimization can be for a website.

This means, that whilst designing a website, optimization is not something to be glossed over. Any website owner, should always consider ways of keeping their site, smooth and efficient as possible to improve their business.

 

References: https://digitalagencynetwork.com/the-importance-of-business-website-optimization/

https://www.pingdom.com/


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