A gym owner recently asked me to look at why his site was loading slow – our tests showed an average of around 20s. This is way too long and would be putting off potential clients as many would leave before the site even loaded. A combination of better specified hosting, caching and some tweaks made this site ten times faster to load!
The WordPress theme was pretty decent but had been bought from a theme marketplace many years ago and not updated since. This was a huge security issue.
There were all kinds of WordPress plugins installed that were not being used, including WooCommerce and Events Calendar. These are both heavy plugins and were slowing things down considerably. Each extra plug-in can slow things down and bring security risks so we removed all unnecessary plugins.
The website hosting company was terrible. Slow hosting from the mainstream companies is a major factor in site speed. We recommended our green web hosting provider and helped migrate the site over. We then installed the Litespeed cache provided by the host with the matching WordPress plug-in. Paying a little extra for a well specified hosting provider with good caching is a vital investment.
There were some huge PNG format images on the homepage and converting these to JPG improved speed again. The Litespeed cache plug-in also includes online conversion to ‘webp‘ format images with automatic replacement, so we set that up. The .webp format can slash image sizes and the plug-in takes care of serving older formats to browsers that cannot yet support .webp images.
Even using the existing theme, the page load time came down from around 20s to around 2s. This is likely to increase search engine traffic and customers, paying for the slight increase in hosting costs many times over. It will also be less hassle for the owner to update the site – further increasing the effectiveness of their marketing. The gym hadn’t had an enquiry for around six weeks but has received two promising enquiries within a week of the migration!