3 steps to a faster loading church website

As people have been signing up for WP Church Team, there’s been a common question being asked. People have been asking, ‘How can I get my website to load faster’.

It’s a fair enough question too. A recent study by Kissmetrics found that 47% of website users expected a site to load in under 2 seconds. More than that, 40% said they would abandon a site if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

Clearly, the stakes are high when it comes to how fast your website loads—and this is no less true for churches. If your website is meant to be the virtual door to your church, a slow-loading website is basically slamming the door in their faces.
Luckily, there’s a few steps you can take to speed up your church’s WordPress website.

Remove plugins you don’t need

Every plugin that loads in your WordPress site has an impact on the speed with which the site loads.  Some plugins will still load resources even if you aren’t using them—so it’s good to only have plugins active that you know you’re making use of. Why not take 5 minutes to check the plugins you’ve got installed in your site, and turn off any you don’t need.

We’ve all installed a WordPress plugin to see if it does what we want—then forgotten to remove it. These inactive plugins won’t slow down your site—but they can clutter things up when you do want to speed things up. So, why not remove all your site’s inactive plugins, too.

Resize & Optimize Images

One of the key reasons sites often load slowly is because of poorly optimized images. WordPress does its best to load the right size images, but sometimes it can do with a little help.

When it’s possible, try to resize large images (digital cameras often create images up to 5 times as big as you need on a website to something closer to what you need. Full screen images can be up to 2000 pixels wide, but images that are inserted inside your content probably don’t need to be bigger than 1000 pixels.

You can use software like Photoshop to resize your images—or an online tool like PicResize or resizeimage.net.
There are also plugins (I’d recommend WP Smush) which can further optimise your images by compressing their size with minimal loss of quality.

Install a caching plugin

Ordinarily when someone visits your site, it is dynamically constructed—with the right content being pulled from the database and rendered into your theme. When lots of people try to load the site at the same time, this dynamic system can slow down.

Caching is a system that creates a static version of the pages in your site to be loaded, instead of dynamically creating them each time. This can substantially speed up your site, especially if you get a lot of visitors at one time.

Caching can be complex—and involve a lot of tweaking to get the absolute best performance. But the good news is that even taking a simple approach can see huge improvements. If you want a quick win, I’d recommend  WP Super Cache. It’s a simpler solution you can just switch on.

If you’re interested in tinkering and pushing things further, you could install W3 Total Cache which gives you a heap more options to try and really get your site humming.

Get started

So there you have it—a few easy steps to get your website to load more quickly, and hopefully better serve potential visitors. Just to recap, here’s what you need to do:

  • Deactivate any plugins you’re not using.
  • Delete any plugins that are inactive.
  • Start resizing images before you upload them.
  • Install SmushIt plugin.
  • Install WP Super Cache or W3 Ultimate Cache.

We’d love to know how great the improvements you see are. And if it all seems a bit much – we’d love to talk to you about how WP Church Team can help speed up your website, as well as assist with a range of other tasks for your website.

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