Website loading speed is critical to your website’s success. In particular, your site speed influences how people perceive your site. User experience is determined by many factors, but in order for someone to have a meaningful experience on your site, they have to be there long enough to experience it. If your site takes longer than 10 seconds to load, you are losing traffic. Here are some other reasons people might leave your site.

Fast Loading Times

So, the question is, how can you improve your website speed? If you’re on WordPress, it’s a good idea to use a cache plugin to improve your performance. For this site, I have tried 5 different plugins — W3 Total Cache, Super Cache, Total Cache, Zen Cache, & WP Rocket. I also have used different variations of lazy load, gzip, & minify plugins. My favorite free configuration was Autoptomize & Zen Cache. It was easy to setup, had no conflicts with my themes & other plugins, & also had the best site speed test results.

So Why Pay for a Premium Plugin?

It may not be necessary for everyone, but my goal was to get this site to load as quickly as possible without changing from a shared hosting environment. I really wanted to get my site to load in under 1 second without sacrificing beautiful images or external integrations in the name of speed.

After researching all the different plugin options currently on the market, I decided to purchase WP Rocket. Seeing as how Black Friday was here, I waited a couple of days & got a great discount for my license. I have been thrilled with the results thus far. I don’t have all the test results to share, but here are a couple of screenshots from GTMetrix testing my site speed using the aforementioned Autoptomize/Zen Cache setup vs the WP Rocket setup. The results speak for themselves.

With Autoptomize & Zen Cache:
Zen Cache

Immediately after installing & enabling WP Rocket:

WP Rocket

Re-test after waiting a few minutes:

WP Rocket

As you can see, my site load time decreased significantly once the cache had a chance to build. You may notice that my PageSpeed & YSlow Scores are slightly worse using the WP Rocket plugin. Keep in mind that I have just begun to play with settings & have not enabled all of the features that the plugin offers. I did check my site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights & it earned a tidy 91 out of 100. Truth be told, as much as I want to see improvement on my algorithm-based tests, my biggest concern is the real-world test. I want users to be able to quickly load the homepage & navigate the site. In that sense, mission accomplished.

I have seen similar results on other websites, including a client site that went from over 7 second load time to under 3 seconds. They have a resource heavy site with a many images on the homepage — both of which are necessary for their clients.

I am still finding new ways to improve my site speed & will post more about that moving forward. The biggest change will come next week when we switch hosting providers. I will run test results for before & after that change as well.

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