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Top 5 Site Speed Issues on Photography Sites & How to Fix Them

In this article, we will explain what are the main components that slow down your website and share some useful tips and tricks on how to speed up your photography site.

No one likes slow websites, that’s a fact. When we access a website, we expect it to load fast and provide the information we are looking for. This is why the site loading speed is important.

You should make sure that your website is loading fast, especially on mobile devices, as Google uses site speed as a ranking factor for organic search results. A slow website = bad UX = lower-ranking = less traffic = less sales.

Before we dive into common site speed issues, you need to understand how to test your site speed. There are multiple tools available on the web, but we will focus on one of them: GTmetrix.

Why GTmetrix?

site speed icon

There are a number of reasons why we chose this tool. Here are a few of them:

  • It will show you an actual loading time, instead of a generic numerical score. This metric is relevant as it shows you how fast your site really is
  • It will allow you to choose your test server location (you can choose test servers from different regions: USA, UK, China, India, Australia, Brazil, Canada)
  • You’ll get a waterfall report, which shows you all the resources that are loaded on your site in a consecutive manner.
  • The results are relatively easy to understand for non-tech users and there are multiple help resource available on the site

Of course, you can use other tools like Pingdom Tools or PageSpeed Insights to check your performance, just keep in mind that none of these testing tools will give you 100% accurate results, as there are so many variables when it comes to your site visitors. They might use different browsers, devices, locations, and internet connections.

Note: don’t get too obsessed about your scores and pay attention to important metrics like actual loading time, page size, number of requests, first input delay, etc. After all, your main goal is to serve fast pages, so your visitors can get the information they are looking for, without waiting too long.

Also, one important thing to mention: your site speed is highly dependable on your hosting provider, media content and site configuration. Optimizing your site for speed is not an easy task, but if you do it properly, you’ll get great results, regardless of what Flotheme you use.

So, what are the most common elements that slow down your site? Here is a list of 5 things you need to pay attention to in order to avoid issues with your site’s speed:

1. Optimize Images

What does it mean?
Optimizing site loading speed can be difficult for some photographers, due to their strong desire to keep photos in high resolution, so they look perfect on very large displays. This leads to very large files, that slow down your site dramatically. For example, you have a gallery with 50 photos, each of them is 1MB, in total you have 50MB on your page => it will take forever to load.

Our recommendation is: keep your image file size under 400-500KB and the number of images per page at a maximum of 20-30. Also, keep in mind that your site should load in less than 4 seconds.

Here are the results of our Lyra Theme’s Demo analysis:

gtmetrix score

How to fix it?
There are multiple ways to optimize your images without altering their quality. However, the best way is to optimize them before uploading to your site. You can export them from Photoshop or Lightroom using optimal export settings and then compress using tools like JPEGmini or TinyJPG. Alternatively, you can use plugins like ShortPixel or Imagify that will compress your images when you upload them in WordPress.
Here is a comprehensive guide on image optimization.

2.Leverage browser caching

What does it mean?
Every time your browser loads a webpage it has to download all the files to properly display the page. This includes all the HTML, CSS, JavaScript files and images.
You can speed up your page speed by asking visitors to save and reuse the files included in your website. This is a great speed improvement for returning visitors, as their browser won’t load all the files again, as some of the files are already cached in their browser.

How to fix it?
Installing a plugin such as WP Super Cache is a great way to improve loading time, however, it is recommended that you follow a tutorial on how to set this up correctly, as a wrongly configured caching plug-in can cause more issues than good. 
Another note on caching, when you are testing the site for speed, it’s best to clear the cache, refresh your page and then retest to check for improvements.
For other notable caching plugin options, also take a look at WP Fastest Cache which is a good alternative. 

3. Serve scaled images

What does it mean?
When you upload high-resolution images to specific areas of your site, they might be scaled (resized), so that they display nicely on all kinds of devices like laptops, smartphones, etc. This might lead to situations when you serve images that are larger than required dimensions and force users to download large images when it’s not necessary.

How to fix it?
First of all, you need to follow the recommended image sizes. Then, check if your website is serving responsive images. Flothemes are using the srcset attribute to serve responsive images. This feature allows you to display appropriate images to different screen sizes, so your site looks nice on all kinds of devices.

4. Too large page size

What does it mean?
This one is simple: the larger your page size is, the longer it will take to load. Try to keep your pages light and use files that aren’t huge in size.

How to fix it?
Images will probably be some of the heaviest files on your site. Optimizing images can reduce your total page load size by up to 80%. So, check point #1 to learn how to optimize your images for the web.

5. Too many requests

What does it mean?
Every time you visit a website, your browser is requesting and receiving files. The browser requests different files from a web server to load the content of your page. These are also known as HTTP requests and the more requests you have the bigger your loading time is.

How to fix it?
Reducing the number of files can help speed up your site, fewer files = fewer requests. You can do it by following some of these tips:

  • Combine HTML, CSS, JavaScript files to reduce the number of requests. Please note that combining files might change your site appearance or functionality, so use this option sparingly. Plugins like Autoptimize or WP Rocket can help you out.
  • Defer files you don’t need. In some cases, your site might load extra files that are not required and slow down your page. You can use Asset CleanUp plugin to defer files you don’t need.
  • Consider removing 3rd party tools that you no longer use. 3rd party tools (analytics, chat, heatmap, etc.) can add extra requests to your site. Consider using a reasonable amount of tools and remove those you don’t need.

That’s it folks, hope this info will help you identify your top site speed issues and improve your page loading time. Remember, every second count, as it affects your organic search ranking and potential revenue.

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