Fast WordPress: 4 Expert Tips for Next Level Performance

We all are looking for ways to take our WordPress performance to the next level. Peak performance is an ongoing effort of continuous improvement. Your WordPress site may be fast, but there are always tweaks to make it even more performant.  

In my search for expert insight on how to do this, I did some sleuthing for insider tips. I connected with three Pantheon experts in WordPress development best practices.

My inside sources:

Insider Insight #1: Speed Search Query Times with a Dedicated Search Index

Andrew Taylor: Using a dedicated search index, such as Elastic Search or Solr, can greatly reduce search query times. Besides making search more performant, you'll also get additional benefits, such as faceting for business-critical searches. WordPress, since it relies on MySQL, struggles with a large number of posts (50,000+) for standard queries, not just search. Most search index plugins provide WP_Query support, helping support non-search queries as well.

Raw Query Times Chart

Insider Insight #2: Monitor Site Speed with Plugins

Steve Persch: Get visibility into how long it takes WordPress to generate your webpage. Use a monitoring tool like New Relic (included on the Pantheon platform), or just a plugin like Query Monitor, to see where the time is being spent.

Insider Insight #3: Lazy Load All Images

Dwayne McDaniel: Optimize your images as much as you can and lazy load all images. First, smaller things load faster. There are a lot of great third-party tools that can greatly reduce the size of your images with no noticeable degradation of quality, such as Compressor and Tiny PNG.


TinyPNG example

From our Frontend Performance Guide: Lazy loading images is a JavaScript technique that saves bandwidth and lowers load times by delaying the loading of images until they appear in the viewport. Try the BJ Lazy Load plugin for WordPress.

Insider Insight #4: Declutter Your Site

Dwayne McDaniel: Ask yourself, "Do we really need that badge or widget or menu item?"  All sites make a trade off of functionality for speed. If you reduce the number of things needed to load, you will likely have better performance. Think about the homepage for It is the first site many people try to load up to test an internet connection, because it loads so reliably fast.

Remove everything that you aren’t using, or that duplicates a function. If you have plugins that aren’t used anymore, don't just deactivate them; uninstall them. Bloated sites take longer to load, especially ones with multiple plugins with overlapping functionality.  

Now You Know

Perfecting peak WordPress performance is an ongoing process. Whether your site is record fast or has a few speed bumps, the Quickstart Guide to Fast WordPress is a comprehensive resource for all levels. Check it out now to learn whether your WordPress site needs a tweak or a complete transformation.

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Topics WordPress Hosting, Speed & Performance, Testing & Optimization, WordPress

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