October 31, 2014

5 Things that Make Your WordPress Site Run Slow and How to Fix Them

site runs slow

A slow loading website can hurt your small business by turning away visitors who expect fast load times and smooth online experiences, and harming your reputation.

If your site runs slow and you’re running WordPress, there are plenty of things that could be slowing you down. Below are five common reasons for sluggish performance on WordPress platforms, and how you can fix them.

If Your WordPress Site Runs Slow. . .

You’re Running Too Many Plugins

The problem

With thousands of shiny plugins out there promising to do amazing things for your website, it’s easy to get caught up and catch plugin fever. Soon, you’ve got plugins controlling every function and feature on your site—you might even have plugins for your plugins.

This is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, the more plugins you have, the more work your website has to do while it’s loading. And second, not all plugins are created equally—poor or outdated plugins can slow down site performance drastically.

The Fix

Evaluate your current plugins to figure out which ones you actually need. Get rid of multiple plugins that perform the same functions, plugins that you’re no longer using, and those that were created more than 5 years ago and have never been updated.

Surprisingly, you can check the performance of your plugins with…another plugin. The P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) shows you how each plugin impacts your WordPress site load time, so you can adjust accordingly.

Your Homepage Has it All – And Then Some

The Problem

In most cases, the homepage is the first one your visitors see. So you might have designed it to show off everything you can, in order to impress new visitors. Widgets are cool, right?

But the more widgets and content you have on the front page, the longer your site takes to load.

The Fix

Keep in mind that a clean design is just as impressive. Don’t stick sharing widgets everywhere on your homepage (save them for the end of your blog posts, where they’ll have the most impact). Pare down and remove any unnecessary widgets or plugins.

You can also speed up load times using the WordPress options to show excerpts instead of full posts, and limit the number of posts per page—5 to 7 is a good number.

Your Stunning Images Take Up Too Much Space

The Problem

The higher the size and quality of an image, the longer it takes to load. If you have amazing graphics and an image or two (or more) with every blog post, your loading time will be slower.

The Fix

There are a few ways to address the image issue. One is with Lazy Load—a process that loads only the images appearing “above the fold,” or on the part of the site a visitor is actually viewing. You can do this automatically with the jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.

Another is with an image optimizer program like Yahoo!’s Smush.it. You can use the tool right from the site to compact images (without losing quality)—or you can install the WP Smush.It plugin to have it done automatically when you add images to your site.

You’re Using a “Free” Third-Party WordPress Theme

The Problem

Free is the best price for anything, and you may have searched for a free WordPress theme to avoid using the same themes that everyone else has. However, like free movie sites and music downloads, there’s an excellent chance that “free” theme comes with a price tag in the form of spyware or viruses, which do more than slow down your site.

The Fix

Unless you have a really good reason to completely trust the developer of a free theme, only use themes from the official WordPress theme repository. If you want something different, consider investing less than $100 in a premium theme.

Your Host Isn’t the Most

The Problem

If you’re running the WordPress.org platform, you need a Web host for your site. There are free Web hosting providers, and incredibly cheap hosts. Of course, you’re interested in saving money—so you might have gone with the lowest possible price tag.

But a poor Web host can hurt more than your load times.

The Fix

If your Web hosting solution is free or dirt-cheap, consider upgrading to a well known host, which usually runs between $4 and $8 per month. Here’s what to think about when choosing a web hosting company.

Are you satisfied with how fast your WordPress site loads?

Slow Website Photo via Shutterstock

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Megan Totka


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

29 Reactions

  1. Haha! Plugins for your plugins!

    I don’t have that many plugins, only the ones commonly deemed necessary like Akismet and an SEO plugin (I forget the name).

    The WP theme I’m using is free but it’s off WordPress’s repository. I also pay for my own hosting.

    I’m fine with how fast my site loads, but then that might be down to my connection. Is there a way to tell how fast a site loads due to the site itself and not one’s connection?

    • The best way to tell is to try loading your site on another location such as a computer cafe or a coffee shop. Or you can just try loading another site like Facebook. If Facebook loads normally and your site is incredibly slow then there is a chance that your website is at fault.

      • Now why didn’t I think of that, Aira?! Thanks! Sometimes I over-think things to the point that I sometimes miss the simplest of solutions. :)

        Thanks again.

      • Thanks for the great tips, Ebele! And thanks to both of you for reading and posting.

  2. I have been one to have more plugins than necessary and I have even gone to the extent of having to swap out plugins on my sites just to see what the new ones do.

    • Ooh, so you’re a plugin addict then, Ed?! :)

      So how many plugins do you have? And have you ever regretted swapping certain ones round?

    • I’ve been guilty of this too, Ed! There are so many good ones available; it’s easy to get carried away. ;-) Like everything else, plug-ins are best in moderation…

  3. These are some great tips! You can also use the Google Page Speed analyzer to analyze why your site may be loading slow. The tool will also give you a score for mobile and desktop. Will definitely be taking a look at some of my old plug-ins that are floating around to see if I can improve load time.

  4. Thanks a lot, Megan.

    I’m always trying to make sure that my sites are all up to speed.

    Speeding them up is a good thing; visitors will leave quickly if the pages don’t load fast.

    The Franchise King®

  5. What about using a good Cache plugin?. For me it is the best solution to improve page speed. I use W3 Total cache, and it improve a lot all my wordpress sites speed.
    For me the best to methods to make your wordpress fast is used a good plugin cache and have a good hosting.
    Thanks for the article!

  6. Megan: I will show your post to my business partner and webmaster of our sites powered by WordPress.

  7. I am running 6 wordpress blogs. Initially I face problem of site slow. But google website optimizer helps me a lot to optimize my blog. Now all loading very well.

  8. I know from experience that a WordPress site can be very slow. I added a wordpress site/store to the Sheds Unlimited INC website. I have had problems with it running very slow. I have tried to disable some of the addons and it still runs to slow. I wish I knew a solution! Check out the store

  9. In working with customers to speed up their wordpress sites, I find that plugins are the most frequent problem.

    While the P3 Profiler is good, I often use a simple divide and conquer approach where I simply disable half of the plugins and see if the problem remains. If so, then split this set in half and continue.

    While not the most scientific, I’ve often spotted poorly coded plugins or plugin conflicts within minutes using this approach.

  10. How to make your computer faster? Easy. Use a registry cleaner. Then, what is the finest registry cleaner. Easy. RegServe. Registry cleaners have lots of functions. They delete not needed records hiding in the deepest corners of your firm force. No matter how solid you try you immediately hypocrisy locate them. This is what RegServe specializes in. It searches for these files and callously eliminates them. So, bring to an end organization to all those “TECH GURUS” and get yourself a copy of RegServe.

  11. I tried everything, but yet my site are still slow. I’m currently using iPage shared web hosting, do they doing well on Web Hosting?

    • What are some of the various things you’ve tried, Maxwell? Also, Aira made a great suggestion about accessing your sites from a computer in a different location to make sure it’s not your own connection that’s the problem.

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