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Speed up your WordPress website
Speed up your WordPress website
By James Sharpe
Speed up your WordPress website

We were asked to optimise a WordPress (Divi theme) website. By doing just TWO things that were FREE, we took the site from THIS…

To THIS….

First impressions are critical for your website, and website performance is always the first experience a visitor gets even before seeing your content. If your website loads fast – your visitor is immediately happy. We were asked to optimise a slow website and thought we’d take you through it.  This article assumes you know a little about websites and hosting, and we trust you’ll take a full website backup before doing any changes such as this – so we’re not going to take baby steps.

SO WHAT DID WE DO?

1. Leverage a CDN

A CDN, or Content Delivery Network / Content Distribution Network, is a global network of web servers distributed around the planet.  When you use a CDN, a visitor checking out your website is getting access to a copy that’s close to them geographically. Think of hosting your website in the United States and accessing it from Australia or vice-versa, it’s going to experience delays ‘over the wire’. A CDN keeps a copy of your website close to your visitors. For this case study, we set up the website on the Cloudflare CDN Free plan.  Not only do you get to utilise their global CDN, you also get DDoS protection.

Yeah – we sign up for the FREE Cloudflare plan and we’re not ashamed to admit it.  It does the job for what we need it for, and for free it is an amazing service.  When you add your site it will scan your DNS zone records and import them in to Cloudflare.  You’ll then need to change your primary and secondary DNS for your domain name so they use Cloudflare.  You can then check to see if they’ve been picked up and if your domain is activated in Cloudflare you’ll also get an email to confirm as such.  You can then also run through the Quick Start, and as you can see in the image below we’ve turned everything on: –

  • Automatic HTTPS Rewrites
  • Always use HTTPS
  • Auto Minify: JS, CSS, HTML
  • Brotli

These settings may not be right for every one, especially the Minify settings.  Keep an eye on your site when you make these changes to ensure everything is displaying correctly.  That’s it for Cloudflare as far as this exercise was concerned.. Of course there’s more you can do with Cloudflare, but if you’re seeing the ‘Cloudflare is now protecting your site’ notification, then back away slowly..

 

 

 

2. Implemented LiteSpeed Web Cache Manager

This web host used the LiteSpeed web server and as such have the LiteSpeed Web Cache Manager in the Advanced section of the cPanel. This is obviously specific to this installation, but there’s no reason the concepts that we talk about here can’t be applied with other caching plugins for you folks on other web servers such as Apache. LiteSpeed Web Cache Manager

You want to enable LiteSpeed Web Cache Manager, so open it up in cPanel and you’ll probably need to scan for your WordPress installation if this is your first time doing this, and click Enable. LS Web Cache Manager doesn’t like other caching plugins, so if you’re already using one on your website it won’t allow you to enable until the other plugins have been deactivate / removed. After you’ve activated LS Web Cache Manager, you’ll have the plugin installed and activated on your WordPress website – so jump in to your WordPress dashboard and the first thing you want to do is hook LS Web Cache in to your Cloudflare integration. So go to the LiteSpeed cache menu, click CDN and scroll down to the bottom of the settings page and you’ll see this…

So.. (if you haven’t figured this out already), click ON then enter the details it needs (email address, API, domain name). From here on, you can optimise the settings in LiteSpeed Cache to suit your needs specifically Image Optimisation and Page Optimisation.    Ensure you run through the tabs on the Page Optimisation menu, specifically CSS, JS, Optimization and Media.  We tend to start off with setting everything to ON and then work our way back depending on if anything breaks.  Settings that combine and minify tend to cause the most issues.  Each website is different based on many factors such as themes and plugins so it’s really a case of see what works for you.  Also, ensure you try out Lazy Loading of images as there’s often a good performance boost with this setting.

CONCLUSION

You’ll see from the above that making some simple but significant changes to your website can make an amazing difference to your site speed. This not only improves the User Experience (who likes waiting when the click a link?), but it also has the benefit of improving your SEO as site performance is a Google SEO Ranking signal. Of course, there are many other options to improve site performance and this can be highly variable depending on your situation (ie., hosting, website content, etc.). Using analysis tools such as GTMetrix can help further analyse your website and report on the specifics of where you should focus your attention. For further information, or for assistance in getting results like these for your website, please get in touch

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Sherpa Digital are a leading Website Design and Management business in Melbourne.  We specialise in developing websites for small and medium sized businesses, as well as providing WordPress Maintenance plans and hosting, SEO, Email Marketing and Automation, as well as IT Services for Small and Medium Businesses.

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We are very fortunate to have formed excellent partnerships with many of our clients. Here’s what they’re saying about us.

James is an easy going, everything can be fixed guy —Love the enthusiasm and appreciate your work .Glad to have you onboard with all my web issues and web help that i need . James your help with all our Web work has made my life simpler if only every IT guy was like you . Thanks heaps Annastasia Browqueen

Annastasia Bindevis

Brow Queen

James at Sherpa Digital is a delight to work. I’ve worked with him across four projects and he always offers excellent suggestions, is flexible and very easy to work with. He is responsive and available to brainstorm ideas to develop a better result. James is fair, reasonable and very customer aware and focused.
Having James as a trusted digital partner is a worthwhile investment. I look forward to project # five.

Suzanne Maybury

Magnify Marketing

Nothing but positive things to say, had a seamless experience. All questions/queries always met with prompt responses and explained in simple terms. Not to mention really great design ideas that I would never have thought of. I will definitely continue to work with James in the future – thank you!!

Daniel Walker

BV Defaults

Thanks for your great work James.
I have to say that your professionalism, punctuality and responsiveness to meet our needs is a breath of fresh air.

Ness Jolly

Directors Australia

If I could give James six stars I would. I needed some help on a tricky website over the Christmas break and he was helpful, friendly, supportive and responsive – he was happy to explain anything that I didn’t understand well (in a non-geeky way). Beyond the knowledge and skills, his interpersonal skills and rapport is great.

Elysia El

NYX Social

There are many in the digital space who claim to be experienced, quality driven professionals, and then there are those who are truly professional, approachable and solution driven. My experience with Sherpa Digital is that of quality, perseverance and solutions that have been tailored to my needs. I highly recommend Sherpa Digital and will continue to use them for all of my digital development needs going forward.

Paula Dunn

Turning The Page

Working with James at Sherpa Digital has been a fantastic experience. Starting with a clear plan and quote, through to the final product it was a smooth and streamlined project. James was always available to discuss any questions, and nothing was too much trouble. James was professional, knowledgeable, flexible and solution focused. I would strongly recommend James for your website and IT needs.

Philippa Young

KMC Healthcare

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