Having a website that loads and runs faster results in a much more enjoyable user experience—and potentially, more profitability for you! Nobody likes to waste time waiting for a site to load. Chances are, if your website is too slow, your users will go elsewhere. Additionally, it’s now known that search engines do take site speed into account when determining where your site ranks on search results pages. So, if you want your site to rank at or near the top, you should make speed a consideration.
In the past, WordPress did have a reputation as not being the fastest platform around. However, these days there are some solutions. At WordCamp OC this past weekend, Devin Walker of wordimpress.com gave a great presentation which covered many steps you can take to speed things up.
Photo blogs present an especially big challenge as images are often the big culprit in slowing site load times down. Although reducing the number of images on your site is probably not feasible (after all it’s a PHOTO Blog), there are a couple of significant steps you can take. First, reduce the size and optimize your images. There are some nice plugins out there that are worth taking a look at:
This plugin will not have images load that would be off-screen. In other words, images that you would have to scroll down to see will not be loaded until the user scrolls to that portion of the page.
This plugin will automatically reduce the size of large images so they can more easily be displayed in a browser.
This plugin automatically creates different croppings of your images for various screen sizes. It then provides the most appropriately sized image to the user.
Another step you can take is to use a content delivery network (CDN) for loading your images—usually resulting in better load times.
There were a number of other steps Devin went over that can benefit not only WordPress photo blogs, but any other type of WordPress site. One of the key things you can do is to utilize caching to speed up load times. Plugins such as WP Super Cache or Quick Cache can be used to prevent every item from being needlessly loaded every time someone goes to one of your pages or posts.
Other steps you can take to increase your site speed are to optimize your databases, deactivate and delete unused plugins, and use a faster DNS web service.