How to enhance WordPress performance

Performance is an important issue in maintaining your WordPress website. You have to monitor regularly how your website performs. Several online tools can help you measure the performance.

It can happen that the performance isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe you just launched your website and soon you discover that the performance is poor. You start asking yourself: “What can I do?”.

This website has been optimized in such a way the page load time dropped from 8 to 1.5 seconds! This is very pleasant for visitors and good for the ranking by the search engines. It took a lot of trail and error to get where I wanted to be. This is how I started.

Keep measuring

As mentioned in another post, I use GTmetrix to measure the performance of my website. With every step I take, I run a test before and after. Most of the times I get the results I want, sometimes it just won’t work.

Tip: make screen shots of every report you run in GTmetrix, or any other tool for that matter. You can compare the results and see the improvements you make and tell the world about it. Although GTmetrix also keeps the history of the measurements.

Dive in to the matter

Before starting the process of performance enhancement, it is best to make yourself comfortable with all the options and requirements. Not to get very technical right away, but to get the picture of what is necessary, the things you must keep in mind. Look for best practices en decide whether they are usable to you.

Do a Google search on  ‘wordpress performance optimization’ and see what comes up! It seems like half of the world is trying to speed up their website. This is how I started some years ago.

Basic rules

There are a few basic rules that you must follow to try to prevent extensive page load. These aren’t technical at all and you can start with them right away:

  • Make sure the images are of the right size and optimized. Do not use a 4000×3000 pixel image in a 400×300 pixel space. You can use a plugin to do the optimizing.
  • Keep WordPress as clean as possible. Delete unused themes and plugins and optimize the database regularly.
  • Test plugins and themes on performance before you start using them. If it slows down your website too much, look for something else.
  • Be sure you have a good web host.
  • Use only the most recent versions of WordPress, themes and plugins.

The next step

Are you sure you have applied the basic rules? And your website still isn’t as fast as you want it to be? Then it’s time to take the next step. And it will get more technical from here!

A lot of improvements can be achieved with some relatively simple changes to the .htaccess and functions.php files. By adding some code manually. Take a look at a few code snippets on this website. Use these if you can and see what happens.

What else can be done?

  • Optimize HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  • The use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • The use of caching plugins
  • Move to a better web hosting


There is a lot that can be done to make your website faster. Almost everything can be done by yourself. Just make sure you have applied the basic rules. If you run in any performance trouble, go through it step by step. Try to find out what really causes the problem before you start throwing with caching plugins and CDN’s. Sometimes you only have to adjust a few settings to solve the problem.

Ronald Heijnes
Ronald Heijnes

Since 2008 I keep myself busy with the functionality, management, maintenance and performance of self hosted WordPress. I like to share this knowledge. All in my spare time!

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