There is a combination of factors that affect a websites loading time, some of these factors include:
Website hosting is critical to a websites performance. These factors include reliability, customer service if you get in trouble, and speed. Load times or website speed can limited by the physical server characteristics and resources allocated to your site. Improvements might include increased memory to process tasks. Using modern solid state hard drives (SSD) to store and serve information fast. Along with super fast networking capabilities. Other advancements may include server-side technologies to help improve the website performance. Optional Content Delivery Networks (CDN) support can also be integrated with your hosting provider. Some of the best Australian website hosting providers include Site Ground, Host Gator and Bluehost.
Static or dynamic websites
Static websites are typically faster than dynamic websites as they only use HTML and CSS coding. Whilst dynamic websites use HTML, CSS, PHP, & Java. Static sites are basically text and link orientated websites. Whilst the extra elements such as PHP allow dynamic sites to be more interactive to the end user. To attract future customers most commercial websites are now dynamic.
Development platform i.e. Content Management System (CMS)
This may include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento. Each of which different performance potentials. Which can include the availability of plugins. Website plugins can be be used to improve loading time performance.
Not all themes are equal, when using a theme on a CMS such as WordPress typically you have to change the theme. Some themes are limited in their options. Whilst other themes have options for just about everything!
Divi, Avada and X Theme are a good example of themes that are fully customizable. So much so these are some of the best selling WordPress themes of all time. The benefit of having all the options is that you tailor design your website to be exactly how and what you want for your customer. A negative side is all these options can make the theme “bloated”, all those options add up to a large theme file. This can lead to slower time compared to the same content that may not have the same user-editable options.
Plugins can slow a website loading speed down if poorly coded or need lots of resources. It can be hard to determine which plugin is affecting your site. It only takes one bad plugin to slow a site loading speed. It is recommended to only install plugins with lots of active installations & good support. Ensure they are compatible with the version of WordPress running and read the reviews or comments. Also, plugins can be used to improve website speed or loading time. This can be achieved by enabling caching, compression, minified of resources and so on. Contact form 7 is, in our opinion, the best form and contact form plugin to date. Combined with the extra elements such as variable entry plugin makes it very powerful. It also has an add on for a database for recording all customer completed inquiry forms makes it my go-to plugin. Yet, it may come at a price with a slight increase in load times. Other plugins that are massively installed and used and have great reviews but might have speed issues. Reports that the popular Jet Pack, the all in one WordPress super plugin is one such plugin.
Code errors, options and bad links
Bad coding such as broken links, especially to resources loaded upon the page load can severely hamper the website loading time. Eventually, these resources will time out. But depending on where and how these bad links appear it can affect the initial load time. This means it affects loading times prior the URL been final rendered. There are online tools such as Dead Link Checker or plugins such as Broken Link Checker. Pingback and trackback options allow blog notifications. They can be sent or received when an article or blog has been shared. For most sites this should be de-activated.
Minifying resources including images
Many resources can be minified or compressed using certain data compression tools. This won’t change the final appearance but helps reduce the load time. Some of the best speed improvements will be optimising images. Images can be a large part of the total data required to be downloaded to display the webpage. Thus the selection of the correct file type of image and compression is critical. Typically optimisation includes re-sizing, changing the file type if needed and compression. Image tools can include poplular ones such as photoshop or Ifranview. Compression tools such as online tools including TinyPNG, Imagify or Kraken. You can also install plugins that can help with on-demand compressions. Such as WP Smush, EWWW image optimizer, Compress JPEG & PNG, ShortPixel Image Optimizer or the Imagify plugin.
Compression and cache
Enabling gzip compression in WordPress can reduce site load time by over 300%. In the past compatibility was an issue with various website browsers. But nearly all modern browser work harmoniously with gzip compression as standard. Gzip compression can be enabled in many ways! Through server commands i.e. via the HT-access file (if you have access through c-panel or FTP to edit this file. Most WordPress users enable gzip through plugins such as W3 Total Cache (free), WP Rocket (paid) WP fastest cache (free or pro is paid) or similar plugins.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content delivery networks or CDNs can deliver resources from servers located closer the end user. Handle traffic demands and spikes, deliver many files asynchronously, free up server resources. All which help improve loading times. Some hosting providers recommend CDN providers. Some providers have free CDN options. Good examples are KeyCDN, Max CDN and Cloudflare. Another added bonus to CDN is that they can provide an added level of security to a website.