Let’s start this off with “why performance?” Besides having a fast-loading page why do you think WordPress performance is important?
You probably want a better user experience for your readers. You may have even heard that Google ranks pages better by performance.
Can you think of any other reasons?
How about conversion rates? Or maybe even cloud resource savings?
Here’s what I consider the “why” of performance:
- You want a better experience for your readers
- You want Google to consider you for top rankings
- You want better conversion rates
- And you want to save money on cloud hosting resources
A better user experience
This one is pretty easy to understand — a fast loading page is more comfortable and friendly for a reader to consume your article.
They get the answers to their questions more quickly and therefore are happier and thus, hopefully, return to your site again in the future. It’s a branding play, you want this positive experience to be memorable so they return.
Makes sense, we all love fast loading websites.
Better Google ranking
This one you may have heard of — that Google prefers to rank faster pages. Yes it’s true, but there is something to understand about this.
Google doesn’t rank pages by performance.
Yes, you read that correctly. If your article loads 400ms faster than your competitor’s that does not mean Google will rank yours over theirs.
It’s more like a cut off point. As long as your article is fast enough, in other words, faster than the cut off point, then your website articles can be in the running, the same as any other quality article with good enough performance.
Now obviously that cut off point is determined by Google. The nice thing is you can see it in the search console. Google will warn you when your pages are too slow. I’ll go into that more in a future lesson.
For now just know that your page has to be “fast enough.”
Higher conversion rates
If you’re selling something then you definitely want better conversion rates. This is a simple equation that ends up with better profits. It’s probably one of the strongest metrics you’re tracking if you’re selling something.
Even a 1% difference could be a big margin of profit for you.
It has been proven that faster pages can earn higher conversion rates then slow pages. Obviously this depends on the page, a poor landing page that loads fast will still have a low conversion rate.
But a great landing page that goes from slow loading to fast loading will have a great impact from the performance benefit.
Cloud hosting resource savings
If you host your WordPress website in the cloud, perhaps using Closte, which puts your WordPress site on the Google cloud, then you are concerned about using resources because it costs money.
Every megabit of memory, CPU usage, network traffic, CDN, etc… it all costs.
so obviously you want to reduce that anyway possible.
A fast website is a lean website. A natural byproduct of a fast website is reduced hosting resource usage.
Not always, but very often.
In particular, optimized images and mark up, along with caching and content delivery networks, can save a lot of cloud resources — reducing the cost of hosting your WordPress website in the cloud.
Now let’s talk about mindset.
I know it may seem weird talking about mindset in a WordPress performance course. But I think it’s something important to, ahem, keep in mind. 😉
Literally. Keep it in your mind. Always.
You’re increasing the payload your visitor must download in order to view your content.
Given what I mentioned above this is what I want you to do.
Take on a lean mindset.
Always think before you add “that cool new thing” to your site.
You know what I mean. That sweet video embed. Or an audio reading of your content. Or fancy graphics and animation to make your page pop.
Because inevitably it comes with a cost.
Do a Cost/Benefit Analysis
I don’t want you to think you can’t any any “cool stuff” to your site. Of course you can. Sometimes you should even.
Just look at the front page of this site. It’s got gradients, and eye-candy to make it attractive.
Why do you think I did that?
It’s the home page. It’s the facade of the site. The front door.
I want to lead off with a good impression. In other words, it’s part of the job of the front page to give a sense of quality to the visitor.
But not all posts need to do that.
More often than not a visitor isn’t coming directly in the front door. They’re coming from Google and landing on a page they hope will answer what they searched for.
This means the purpose of the page isn’t necessarily to be attractive. It could just be to inform or entertain your reader.
Weigh your decisions
When you’re thinking about adding something don’t rush into it. Spend some time thinking “is this functionally important?” Or “is this actually required for the purpose of this page?”
If it is, do it — but be aware of the performance consequences.
If it isn’t– don’t add the new thing (because in the future there will likely be something else you really will need to add).
A Good Rule of Thumb
If a page/post’s purpose is to inform or entertain your reader, make it as lightweight as possible.
This means not adding gradients, colors, imagery, animations, or media unless it directly aids the reader in getting what they need from your content.
However, if the page is to capture a lead, show off your value/quality, show off your product, or ask the reader to take an action — carefully adding a little bulk to improve the overall level of quality is fine.
But Don’t Forget to Think Lean
I’m repeating myself here for a reason. You should always have this calculation running in your mind.
“If I add this, does it help my reader? Is it worth the potential performance impact?”