How to Open a Slow Website more Quickly

Updated on August 14th, 2022

How to Open a Slow Website more Quickly – this is a question that we often ask ourselves if we’re getting poor results on our page speed tests. Given the importance of page speed for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it can be disconcerting when we are consistently seeing slow speed scores. As we know, the fully loaded time should be under two seconds, but this is often difficult to achieve.  In a nutshell:

You need to test and retest often to find out what the bottlenecks are. Waterfall diagrams are your friends in this respect. Even with fast cloud hosting, speed can be reduced by many factors including the under-optimisation of images, slow plugins, heavy themes, non-standard fonts and miscellaneous JavaScript call-downs.

Test, Make Changes, Re-Test, Repeat.  This is how to open a slow website more quickly

One thing that we’ve found is that nothing beats testing. Whether you’re using Pingdom, Google Pagespeed Insights or GTmetrix, the process is the same.

For example, If you’re not sure if a plugin is slowing down your site then try these steps:

  1. Uninstall the plug-in or option in question.
  2. Run a speed test and note the results.
  3. Re-Install the plugin or option.
  4. Run the speed test again and note the result.
  5. Measure the difference between the two results above and try to determine if the plugin or option is having an affect on the result. 
  6. If the plugin or option is having an effect, find an alternative solution that works.

The reality is that many plugins don’t affect page speed at all. However, the ones that do are usually adding JavaScript code to your pages.  These usually call out additional web resources.

The easy way to see if JavaScript is being added to your page is to go to the editor then select the HTML option. Look at the top of the page for any mention of “JS” or JavaScript.

Waterfall Diagrams Let you Know Where the Bottlenecks Are

If you’re using a Pagespeed analysis tool like Pingdom, you can easily view a waterfall chart.

This is incredible information because you can visualise the whole map of the first few seconds of your web page being loaded.

Pingdom speed test sample results - how to open a slow website more quickly

You can then drill down into each level of the chart to see further details and codes for analysis:

PIngdom sample speed analysis results

Consider if the chart is showing that the initial server response time is a major factor. How could we improve this metric?  

One way might be to turn on all the optimisations with your hosting provider such as Content Delivery Network (CDN) or server caching.

Perhaps you note that a JavaScript calldown of the Youtube player is a factor. In this case you could embed your videos using image overlays. This will remove this item from the initial load process.

Change Hosting or use Cloudflare API – how to open a slow website more quickly

When looking at how to open a slow website, often the main culprit is your choice of hosting provider.

Ideally we’d all be on fast cloud hosting. However, this is still expensive and it’s unnecessary when you’re starting out.

A mid-range shared hosting provider like SiteGround might be a better option as they have an almost perfect mix of speed technology, low-cost and excellent customer service.

Having said this, if you’re stuck on cheap shared hosting there’s still a solution.

You can use the next level of CDN which is  CloudFlare API.  This effectively makes copies of every webpage on your site on the Cloudflare network.  

This means that effectively any hits on your website will be made to Cloudflare’s Edge network rather than your hosting provider without any activity with your hosting provider.

Cloudflare - How to open a slow website more quickly

These pages are served directly from Cloudflare to the reader at cloud hosting speeds. Cloudflare API is still quite new and with a monthly cost of only a handful of dollars it almost seems a no-brainer.

Everything on your Web Page needs to be Lean

The less resources that are called out on page load the faster the load process is going to be. All images need to be reduced to a small size and optimised for the web before loading them to WordPress..  You can use an app like  Optimizilla to optimise your images for the web.

Optimizilla home screen - image compression utility

Furthermore, think about any non-standard options that you’re using for your blog posts.  For example, it’s always better to go with the fonts that come native with your theme, rather than downloading other fonts.

Try to avoid using really large images.  Go for smaller JPGs and if possible keep them under 150Kb.

Don’t forget Mobile Speed

With the introduction of Google Core web vitals in early 2021, mobile speed is becoming ever more important.

This can be highlighted by how Google is now using mobile speed as the main speed rating factor for websites.

So how do you improve mobile speed? Firstly use a tool like batch speed to see the speed rankings for all of your webpages.

Batchspeed test example

If your desktop speed is good, but your mobile speeds are slow, check that the theme that you are using is responsive.  Being responsive just means that your site adapts to the size screen that it’s being displayed on.

If you’ve checked the responsiveness of your theme and it’s still slow, then go back to your hosting provider to ask if they can assist.

There are other reasons which are out of your control as to why your mobile speed may appear slow.  Most page tests including Google Page Speed Insights base their mobile test on a 3G speed which isn’t indicative of most real world situations.  

Mobile devices are also inherently slower as they have slower processors than desktops.

Summary of How to Open a Slow Website more Quickly

The beauty of self-hosted websites is that you’ve got so much control over your page speed.

Speed optimisation is not necessarily just about cost.  Yes, your website will run slow if it’s poorly optimised even with fast hosting.

We hope that you can build on the tips in this article to grow a powerful website. Good luck on your speed website speed optimisation journey.

Frequently Asked Questions– How to open a slow website more quickly

Why is my mobile page speed slower than desktop page speed?

It’s because mobile tests are usually based on 3G internet speeds.  Mobile phones also have smaller processors which can’t handle the code from a website as quickly as a standard computer.  There are also differences between different mobile devices in the way that they handle code.  Allowance has been made in Google Page Speed Insights for these differences.

Do inactive plugins slow down WordPress?

No, inactive plugins don’t slow down WordPress. They may however create the potential for a data breach. Accordingly, it’s best to delete any plugins that are not being used.

If I’m using the Siteground Optimiser plugin, do I still need to use other optimisation plugins?

No.  if you’ve got SG optimiser installed, you should deactivate other caching plugins like WP rocket as they may cause conflicts with SG Optimiser.

What’s the difference between Cloudflare CDN and CloudFlare API?

Standard Cloudflare CDN only caches your images. In comparison, Cloudflare API caches your whole website so that no calculations or downloads or interactions with WordPress occur on page load.

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