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Faster Wordpress in 8 Steps

timo_ernst profile image Timo Ernst Originally published at timo-ernst.net ・2 min read

Just recently I was fed up with my Wordpress based blog. I was using a pre-canned theme and overall felt like the whole thing was sluggish and confusing in terms of usability and general visual appearance. As I was always jealous about dev.to's lightning fast loading speed I thought hey – why not turn this into a statically generated page using Gatsby? I mean, static is the new hype so why not use it?

Gatsby was not the answer

After tinkering with Gatsby for quite a while I got something to work. The most difficult part was to export all Wordpress posts into Markdown – which was difficult but doable. However, I wasn't very happy with the themes available for Gatsby Blog. I wanted something extremely minimalistic but aesthetically pleasing at the same time. So, when I briefly checked one of my Wordpress posts I noticed that the time to first byte actually wasn't that bad and I thought: Mhh... what if I could just tweak my Wordpress installation a bit and make it blazingly fast?

Challenge Accepted

So, here are the actions I took:

  1. Found a WP theme which was visually close enough to what I wanted
  2. Overwrote with custom CSS to get it cleaner
  3. Removed all "Featured Images" from homepage
  4. Installed WP Fastest Cache and enabled all settings
  5. Registered my site at Cloudflare and have WP Fastest Cache push all static content to Cloudflare
  6. Installed plugin Disable/Remove Google Fonts
  7. Changed css font-family so it works without Google Fonts
  8. Used WP plugin Smush to compress all images

The results

  • Super clean new design
  • Average time to first byte: 350ms
  • Average full load in: 450ms
  • 100/100 PageSpeed Insight Points for desktop computers
  • 98/100 PageSpeed Insight Points for mobile devices
  • Webpagetest.org results for speed:

Webpagetest Results

Conclusion

Creating super-fast websites with Wordpress/PHP is absolutely possible. The most important trick here is static caching and CDN usage. Check the result at https://www.timo-ernst.net. I'm a very happy webdev panda now 🐼. Got more tips on how to improve loading speed? Let me know in the comments below :-)

Ps: Follow my web dev journey on Twitter if you want more stories like this one.

Question on SEO

If there are any SEO experts reading this – I removed all featured images from the homepage to improve performance and kept images only within posts. Would this negatively impact SEO?

Discussion

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jdc profile image
πŸ’« John Corbin πŸ§œβ€β™‚οΈ

Nice, simple, and straight-forward tutorial! I've never had a recommendation for WP Fastest Cache before - is there a big benefit over WP Super Cache? Thanks again! :)

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Timo Ernst Author

Hey John, thanks. I don’t really know to be honest. I just gave it a try and liked the results.

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Ali GOREN

I'm using Cloudflare as a CDN and I use a very clean template for my blog. It seems fast for me :)

I use WP-Optimize to minify things.

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Jose E Saura

Interesting point the cloudflare one. I' ll try, is there further information?

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Timo Ernst Author

You don’t really need any further tutorial to be honest. Once you sign up Cloudflare website does a great job to guide you through all the steps to mirror your static content from their CDN. Otherwise if you just google for β€œWordPress cloudflare” you should find plenty of articles.