Google’s Core Web Vitals update in 2020 has made website performance more important than ever.
It includes three metrics (Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift) that measure qualitative user experiences on a web page. These page experience signals are now an organic ranking signal.
In addition, high-performance websites lead to lower bounce rates, greater engagement, more conversions, and overall, a superior user experience.
Website success is mainly determined by three factors: conversions, visibility, and usability.
- Faster page loads lead to a better experience and consequently, more conversions.
- Google views high-performing, responsive websites positively and ranks them higher in organic searches. Thus, these sites get more traffic and visibility.
- A website that’s easy-to-use compels visitors to return to the site, thus building customer loyalty and brand value.
Hence, if you optimize your site performance in various aspects, you have a significant advantage over your competitors.
Let’s look at four advanced tips to improve your WP site performance:
1. Use feature-rich, fast website builders
Website builders ease the complex task of creating a website. Just because you’re a developer doesn’t mean you have to build each new site from the beginning.
With website builders, you don’t need extensive coding skills or design skills. You don’t need to hire an expensive designer. And you can create a website quickly, sometimes in less than 30 minutes.
Many website builders allow you to export your site to other platforms. The top website builders in the market are also optimized to load quickly, have a host of useful features, and are built with SEO in mind.
Website builders like Elementor help you create professional sites for your brand faster. Its import/export feature allows you to create a website, export its elements, and attributes as a kit, and apply them to fresh projects or ongoing ones.
Full Website Kits is a new feature that builds on these capabilities to allow you to export entire websites, including templates, layout, site settings, WP pages and posts, custom post types, and WooCommerce product pages.
Thus, instead of having to save each page as a JSON file with only content, you can simply export the website blueprint as a zip file and import it to your next site. Your workflow is accelerated because you don’t have to build each new site from scratch and devote time and energy to ensure brand consistency.
You also have access to the Website Kits Library that contains a collection of pre-built websites complete with 404 pages, pop-ups, headers, and footers.
You can create a site blueprint for a specific industry, a marketing package with your branding, or WooCommerce websites right away—and you have the support of professionally designed kits.
2. Ensure custom breakpoints for responsive design
A responsive web design automatically adjusts for different viewports and screen sizes. CSS breakpoints are used to create a responsive web design by splitting the design into smaller versions of the website based on the screen size of the device.
CSS breakpoints are pixel values that a developer can specify in the code. Website content responds to these points to display the ideal layout to the user.
Elementor now has six custom breakpoints that allow developers to create responsive designs for mobile screens, tablet screens, laptops, and wide-screen devices. You have the flexibility to choose which breakpoints will be active and what the value of each breakpoint will be. You can also scale the preview up or down to suit various device sizes.
Elementor has also altered the UI such that you can see inherited values from each breakpoint as placeholders, allowing you to choose your styles.
To prevent the custom breakpoints from tanking site performance, Elementor’s developers have rebuilt the responsive control loading mechanism to improve server response time by ~23%, reduce memory usage by ~5%, and reduce ~30% data traffic to the Editor load.
They also saved up to 110 KB on each page load by removing support for Internet Explorer.
Font Awesome loading has also been optimized to improve performance.
3. Improve page loading speed
a. Optimize CSS
With time, CSS code files can build up and cause your WP site to slow down. Some ways in which you can optimize CSS are:
- Minify CSS code by reducing file size and removing unnecessary characters like line breaks, extra spaces, comments, and whitespace.
- Combine CSS files into one, reducing HTTP requests. However, it won’t help much if your site uses HTTP/2.
- Eliminate render-blocking resources by delivering critical CSS inline and deferring all non-critical CSS resources
- Remove unused CSS either manually or reduce unused CSS with a plugin like Asset CleanUp or PurifyCSS
Elementor’s asset loading experiment improves a website’s front-end performance by applying dynamic assets loading, reducing duplicate code, and removing unused CSS.
Certain widgets also have lazy loading options enabling you to reduce the number of HTTP requests during the initial page load.
Also, to improve the Largest Contentful Paint metric, if a file is less than 8K, the CSS is printed inline inside the HTML document. Else, it is loaded as an external file.
Elementor loads CSS library files only when you press Save on the Elementor Editor instead of when the page is loading.
You can use a free (and popular) plugin called Autoptimize to perform CSS optimizations.
Elementor achieves JS optimization by splitting the front-end JS files into smaller files and loading only the JS files for the widget being used on the page.
It also employs conditional JS library loading wherein widgets consume external libraries like Swiper.js efficiently, loading the library only if at least one element on the page uses it.
Conditional loading also applies to JS libraries like the Lightbox, Screenful, Share links, and Dialog libraries.
c. Reduce initial server response time
The optimal server response time is less than 200 ms.
Some ways in which you can optimize server response time are:
- Use a fast theme
A beautiful theme with an excellent UI is useless if it won’t load quickly because users won’t be waiting around to see it.
Since feature-rich themes require a lot of code that takes more time to load, choose a lightweight theme with only the necessary functions.
You can use the free Hello theme available on the Elementor Theme Builder to create a fast and flexible WP site.
Other examples of fast WP themes are Astra, Neve, and GeneratePress. All three have deep Elementor integrations and starter sites.
- Use optimized plugins
The more plugins you install, the slower your site becomes. Each plugin has its own file size, HTTP requests, and database queries.
Restrict the number of plugins to include only the features that are necessary to your site. This will also prevent compatibility issues.
Delete unused plugins because not only do they decrease performance, but they also present security vulnerabilities.
Elementor removes the need to use multiple plugins because it has built-in widgets for most important functions like galleries, contact forms, social share icons, and sliders.
d. Optimize images
You can optimize your images in several ways:
- Resize images to their display width.
- Compress resized images to reduce the file size by removing information like metadata and camera details (but without affecting image quality).
- Use optimum image formats like PNG for transparent backgrounds, logos, icons, and opacity.
- Use image CDN to load images faster.
Plugins like Smush, Imagify, and ShortPixel can be used to optimize images.
You can also use the Elementor video widget to optimize heavy GIFs.
e. Use browser caching
f. Use Preload for critical assets
Preload is a resource hint to request critical resources ahead of time and improve page loading speeds. The browser caches preloaded resources so that they are available as soon as needed, but does not execute the scripts or apply the stylesheets.
You can preload resources by adding a <link> tag to the attribute rel = “preload” in the header of your HTML document.
E.g. <link rel=”preload” as=”script” href=”critical.js”>
You can use plugins like Pre* Party Resource Hints to preload critical assets.
g. Use a CDN service
CDNs like Cloudflare, KeyCDN, BunnyCDN, and Stackpath help increase page load times because they use an optimized server that’s closest to your visitor. Static content is saved on “edge” servers around the world and served to visitors from the nearest edge location.
4. Expand your knowledge about web design
Web design is a vast field with many sub-disciplines. To be a good web designer, you should know a bit about each aspect such as the concepts of visual design, HTML, UX, UI, CSS, typography, layout creation, and so on.
Knowledge of how the front end and back end work will make you a well-rounded designer.
Elementor Academy is an educational platform that you can use to get comprehensive knowledge of web creation, including WordPress and Elementor-related topics.
The courses have been created by people who developed Elementor so you can be sure you have the right instructors. You can choose from how-to tutorials, full-length courses, videos, or webinars based on your learning preferences.
WordPress-related topics like Design and Layout, Dynamic Design, Theme Builder, Responsive, Integrations, Forms, and WooCommerce are available. You can also find resources on business-related subjects like SEO, content marketing, conversion optimization, and getting clients.
The best part is that the resources are free to use so you shouldn’t miss them!
Over to you
As a developer or designer, you have endless possibilities to create branded and performance-optimized professional WordPress websites. And with Elementor Full Website Kits, you don’t have to create each one from scratch.
Advanced features like custom CSS breakpoints ensure that you deliver well-designed, responsive, and fast websites without wasting time on repetitive tasks.
Streamline your workflow and optimize your processes for each client by investing in a website builder that doesn’t restrict your design capabilities.