Let's Say You Wanted to Lose Weight
We're going to talk about your WordPress Site's performance, but first let me walk you thru a thought exercise. Imagine you wanted to lose weight. Would you believe someone if they told you that the trick was bananas? Or eggs? Or any single item? Probably not, right?
Losing weight means you have to pay attention to a lot of things – your sleep, your exercise, and (of course) what you eat (maybe even when you eat).
I'm a big guy. But I'm much smaller than I used to be. Having now lost more than 200 lbs over the last 20 years (and kept it off), I can tell you the secret to losing weight: consume less calories than you burn.
But the simple declaration has complexities embedded in it – because your metabolism may be different than mine.
The same is true with your website's performance. It's complicated and there's more to it than a single strategy. If someone tells you the answer is just one thing (instead of bananas they tell you it's just a single cache plugin), it's not that simple.
But here's another truism that needs to be said: you can't improve what you don't measure.
Site Speed is Everything
If a customer can't navigate from one page to another, if the delay between pages takes more than 2 seconds, 50% of your site's visitors will leave your site. Half of your audience walks away!
And if your site takes longer than a couple seconds to load, Google will start taking those pages off of its first page of search results. That's an even bigger problem because if no one can find your site, you either lose all your traffic, or you have to spend money to bring them.
Google has Performance Tools
Google has tools to help your website's performance, which you can find at PageSpeed Insights. When you put your URL into the site, it will present you a score that tells you how fast your site is.
That's good news, but the report card isn't enough. Because to really do it well, you have to measure more than a single page on your site.
Improving Your WordPress Site's Performance
I've given you four tips to getting scores above 90. The two tools I used was the hosting from Nexcess (owned by Liquid Web which also owns LearnDash, where I'm the GM), and NitroPack.
But today I want to circle back to what I told you at the start of this post. A single solution, whether it's a host or a caching plugin, isn't ever the answer. It's more complicated than that.
When it comes to your site's performance, you can't improve what you're not measuring.
So what does that mean, for you and for me? For me it means running performance tests every. single. day. It means understanding what changes you're making (themes or plugins) and then seeing how it impacts your site's performance.
It means looking not at a single page (like your home page), but a ton of your pages.
That's why I recommend the Plugin Performance Monitor – offered to everyone at Nexcess.
When you use the Plugin Performance Monitor, you can see the performance score for multiple pages, on a daily page. That's the measuring I'm talking about. It's daily. And it's across more than a single page. Plus it shows you what's changing.
The best part? I do this before all before adding any kind of performance enhancers like a caching plugin. I want to know where the problems are, so I can dig in and fix them.
That way, when I add a performance enhancers like NitroPack, I know I'm not hiding issues behind cache.
If your site is struggling, I suggest testing all your key pages daily. I suggest doing all of that without a caching plugin, and I recommend that you get help making it all perform well. Only then should you add a caching plugin.
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