Loading Speed Tips

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Everyone gets frustrated with slow-loading sites, even The Most Interesting Man in the World. A faster site means more traffic and visitors who stick on a site longer.

The speed you experience may be different from what others experience when they visit your site, since many factors affect page load time, including:

  • shared website servers hosting many websites at once
  • server computer speed & configuration
  • server bandwidth/Internet speed
  • visitor’s bandwidth/Internet speed
  • visitor’s computer memory & speed

These are just a few things, and we haven’t even gotten to the data of your site itself!

If you’ve noticed your site loads slowly, there are a number of items you’ll want to check.

Caching

Caching improves the speed of a WordPress site. ProPhoto already optimizes images so your site loads quickly, but all the stuff going on behind-the-scenes can take time, too – pulling text from the database, running scripts, etc.

You can try enabling the caching feature in this screen:
“ProPhoto” > “Customize” > “Site Settings” > “Misc.” > “ProPhoto Caching”

caching-options

Caching can only help, and can’t hurt a site’s loading speed, so ProPhoto includes an option you can try. Otherwise, many other caching plugins for WordPress exist which can help, too, but be sure to configure them properly. Some caching plugins can cause unexpected results, so use at your own risk.

After enabling a caching feature in ProPhoto or a plugin, you’ll need to load a page at least once before you will notice a difference – this ‘primes the cache’ so that subsequent visits can load more quickly. See if it makes a difference for you.

Plugins

Some WordPress plugins can be straight-up memory hogs.  While most plugins are helpful, some end up adding a good deal of code to your page, which slows down the site as the server is trying to process the code.

If you’re running plugins on your site, try deactivating all of them at once to see if that helps.  If it does, turn them back on one-by-one to find the culprit(s).

Sometimes a badly-coded plugin can really hurt site performance, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits between using the plugin and having faster loading times, or you may want to find a similar plugin to do the job.

Widgets

Similar to plugins, widgets can be memory intensive.  Especially if you use many widgets, or if they have embedded scripts. If this applies to you, you’ll want to experiment with removing widgets from your site to see if that helps.

Go to “Appearance” > “Widgets” and click and drag your widgets out of their widget areas, into the Inactive Widgets area to see if that helps.

Image Size

ProPhoto creates downsized versions of photos when the original is larger than needed.  As a result, smaller copies of very-large images are displayed on the site when necessary. This reduces the download time for the page. Learn more about automatic image downsizing.

All that being said, it’s still best practice to upload images that are sized appropriately and optimized for your site.  Uploading huge images to your site can still cause issues, since downsized copies must be created the first time a page is ever seen, slowing down the first visitor.

One area that we often see people make mistakes is uploading and using enormous background images for their ProPhoto design. Make sure to create an use an appropriate background image for your design.

Image Quantity

ProPhoto uses an Image Lazyloader so that images that are never seen aren’t loaded in the browser, for faster page loads. As the visitor scrolls the page, images are loaded on-demand.

But even with these options turned on, it still may be helpful to break up posts with tons of images into smaller posts, or simply insert fewer images, making your site as efficient as possible.

Posts Per Page

In addition to the “Image Quantity” section above, if your blog displays lots of posts per-page, the page will load more slowly.

You may want to experiment with reducing the number of posts per-page. This setting can be found in WordPress under “Settings” > “Reading”

Change your posts per page number here.

Change your posts per page number here.

An alternate approach is to use Excerpt View for your posts – either the standard or grid type. This way, only one image needs to be loaded per-post, and the content of each post is trimmed down to a few lines, enticing your visitor to view the page directly. Of course, the standard and grid excerpts change the look & feel of your blog pages, so this option might not fit the look you want for your blog.

Your Web Server

If you’ve tried all of the fixes above and you’re still not having any luck, there is a good chance that your web server could be the culprit.

If you’ve tried everything listed above, and still aren’t having any luck, go in WordPress to “Appearance” > “Themes” and activate a different WordPress theme for your site (preferably a default WordPress theme like “Twenty Fourteen” if you have it). Reload your site several times and see if it makes a big difference.  If there is a big improvement, then contact us and we’ll be happy to take a look.

But, if changing to a different theme makes no difference, and you’re still waiting for things to work, then you’ll want to contact your web host technical support and explain your situation. Let them know that you’ve tested your site with several different themes activated and that you’ve deactivated plugins (if applicable), but that you’re still not having any luck. Ask, also, if your web server uses something called PHP version 5.4 or newer, because this server technology runs WordPress faster, overall, and can make a marked improvement for very little effort!

Don’t be afraid to be persistent if they don’t seem to willing to help.  WordPress sites now account for almost 20% of all websites running in the entire world, so they should want to make sure that WordPress installations run well on their servers.


3ufcli

Everyone gets frustrated with slow-loading sites, even The Most Interesting Man in the World. A faster site means more traffic and visitors who stick on a site longer.

The speed you experience may be different from what others experience when they visit your site, since many factors affect page load time, including:

  • shared website servers hosting many websites at once
  • server computer speed & configuration
  • server bandwidth/Internet speed
  • visitor’s bandwidth/Internet speed
  • visitor’s computer memory & speed

These are just a few things, and we haven’t even gotten to the data of your site itself!

If you’ve noticed your site loads slowly, there are a number of items you’ll want to check.

Caching

Caching improves the speed of a WordPress site. ProPhoto already optimizes images so your site loads quickly, but all the stuff going on behind-the-scenes can take time, too – pulling text from the database, running scripts, etc.

Caching can only help, and can’t hurt a site’s loading speed, so consider trying a caching plugin for WordPress which can help. But be sure to configure them properly. Some caching plugins can cause unexpected results, so use at your own risk.

After enabling a caching plugin, you’ll need to load a page at least once before you will notice a difference – this ‘primes the cache’ so that subsequent visits can load more quickly. See if it makes a difference for you.

Plugins

Some WordPress plugins can be straight-up memory hogs.  While most plugins are helpful, some end up adding a good deal of code to your page, which slows down the site as the server is trying to process the code.

If you’re running plugins on your site, try deactivating all of them at once to see if that helps.  If it does, turn them back on one-by-one to find the culprit(s).

Sometimes a badly-coded plugin can really hurt site performance, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits between using the plugin and having faster loading times, or you may want to find a similar plugin to do the job.

Widgets

Similar to plugins, widgets can be memory intensive.  Especially if you use many widgets, or if they have embedded scripts. If this applies to you, you’ll want to experiment with removing widgets from your site to see if that helps.

Go to “Appearance” > “Widgets” and click and drag your widgets out of their widget areas, into the Inactive Widgets area to see if that helps.

Image Size

ProPhoto creates downsized versions of photos when the original is larger than needed.  As a result, smaller copies of very-large images are displayed on the site when necessary. This reduces the download time for the page. Learn more about automatic image downsizing.

All that being said, it’s still best practice to upload images that are sized appropriately and optimized for your site.  Uploading huge images to your site can still cause issues, since downsized copies must be created the first time a page is ever seen, slowing down the first visitor.

One area that we often see people make mistakes is uploading and using enormous background images for their ProPhoto design. Make sure to create an use an appropriate background image for your design.

Image Quantity

ProPhoto uses an Image Lazyloader so that images that are never seen aren’t loaded in the browser, for faster page loads. As the visitor scrolls the page, images are loaded on-demand.

But even with these options turned on, it still may be helpful to break up posts with tons of images into smaller posts, or simply insert fewer images, making your site as efficient as possible.

Posts Per Page

In addition to the “Image Quantity” section above, if your blog displays lots of posts per-page, the page will load more slowly.

You may want to experiment with reducing the number of posts per-page. This setting can be found in WordPress under “Settings” > “Reading”

Change your posts per page number here.

Change your posts per page number here.

An alternate approach is to use Excerpt View for your posts – either the standard or grid type. This way, only one image needs to be loaded per-post, and the content of each post is trimmed down to a few lines, enticing your visitor to view the page directly. Of course, the standard and grid excerpts change the look & feel of your blog pages, so this option might not fit the look you want for your blog.

Your Web Server

If you’ve tried all of the fixes above and you’re still not having any luck, there is a good chance that your web server could be the culprit.

If you’ve tried everything listed above, and still aren’t having any luck, go in WordPress to “Appearance” > “Themes” and activate a different WordPress theme for your site (preferably a default WordPress theme like “Twenty Fourteen” if you have it). Reload your site several times and see if it makes a big difference.  If there is a big improvement, then contact us and we’ll be happy to take a look.

But, if changing to a different theme makes no difference, and you’re still waiting for things to work, then you’ll want to contact your web host technical support and explain your situation. Let them know that you’ve tested your site with several different themes activated and that you’ve deactivated plugins (if applicable), but that you’re still not having any luck. Ask, also, if your web server uses something called PHP version 5.4 or newer, because this server technology runs WordPress faster, overall, and can make a marked improvement for very little effort!

Don’t be afraid to be persistent if they don’t seem to willing to help.  WordPress sites now account for almost 20% of all websites running in the entire world, so they should want to make sure that WordPress installations run well on their servers.

Without a doubt, I have a number one all time, inter-galactic champion, most important tip ever for ProPhoto blog users:

THOU SHALT BE COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH PAGE LOAD SPEED ABOVE ALL ELSE.

What do I mean by that? Well, the great strength of the ProPhoto theme is also it’s tragic flaw: huge pictures. Huge pictures make our blogs awesome. They can also make them very slow to load. Our friends and fans and clients will not put up with sites that take forever to load. Remember, we as photographers tend to have really good high-speed internet connections because of our unique needs (4GB uploads to Pictage ring a bell for anyone?), but most people are not so lucky. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your users because your site takes forever to load.

What to do? I’m glad you asked. Here are 5 ways to dramatically improve your page load speeds:

1. Reduce the number of posts that appear on each page. This is the most important single thing you can do to reduce page load times. I heartily recommend keeping your posts per page somewhere between 4 and 6. If you tend to post a lot of pictures per post, I’d go for 4 posts. If you only post a few pictures per post, 6 might be fine. This can be changed by going to “Settings” > “Reading” and putting a number other than the default 10 in where it says: ‘Blog pages show at most: _____ posts’
2. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize. Most of you post images that are 900px by 600px, since this is the size the blog was created for. (Some of you post even bigger pictures than that; Mark Ridout does.) These pictures should be about 100k – 200k in file size, depending on the complexity of the image. If your pictures are consistently bigger than that, you should probably tweak your export settings out of Photoshop or Lightroom. I usually use Photoshop’s “Save for Web and Devices” export dialog and set it to JPG > Quality 80.
3. Optimize your logo, biopic, and masthead (flash slideshow) images as well. See if you can shrink the file sizes on all these images at all without losing too much quality, to speed up page load.
4. Background image beware! A lot of you have taken advantage of ProPhoto’s ability for you to upload your own background image. This image, even more so then your other images, should be extremely lightweight. I recommend keeping it below 100k (below 50k is better) if possible. Small, repeating GIF files work great for this. A few of you have tried to use background images that were several megabytes in size. That’s way too big.

I honestly think having a speedy blog makes it much more user friendly, and much more likely that people will keep coming back day after day to see your pictures. So, be a Nazi about page load speeds! In fact, next time your somewhere with slow internet (dial-up even), check your blog to get a good read on what lots of people might experience with your site.

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