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9 Simple Tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Faster

9 Simple Tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Faster

You’ve experienced it. You type in a URL, or click a link, and it takes forever for the site to load. It’s frustrating. Finally, the site begins to load, little by little, chunk by chunk. You really want the information that’s on the site, but you are in a hurry. Maybe you’ll try later. You are typical of today’s digital consumer. We expect our navigation to be fast; in fact, recommended load time is under three seconds for site owners.[1] And others, accessing your blog expect the same thing. Here are nine tips to give visitors the speed they want.

1. Test Your Website Speed Objectively

If you have checked your blog and the load time is any more than three seconds, understand that visitors and even those who used to be regular readers are probably bouncing. What’s more, Google does not like slow loading websites. Here is what you need to know to analyze your speed.

Your blog may load faster for you because your browser will have cached images that don’t need to load again. And if you are using a high-speed connection, it may be loading faster than those on mobile devices. Always check the mobile load time from someone else’s phone, not yours.

For an objective check on your blog’s performance, you can try GTMetrix. It’s a great tool for analyzing speed of website pages and generating a report that is pretty easy to read. It also will explain what the reading means. You can try it for free and see if you like it. This is the type of report you will get.

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    Image Credit via GTMetrix

    You’ll also get some recommendations for speeding up your load time. For example, if you haven’t optimized your images it will tell you. Then, you can either learn how to do that yourself, or find someone who can do it for you.

    This is not the only tool for analysis – Google has PageSpeed Insights, and Pingdom is another free tool. The key is to pick one and use the same one, so that you can check improvement or new suggestions.

    2. Get a Great Host

    No, all web hosting services are not created equal. You may want to explore hosts other than the one you are using, because that can make a big difference in load time. A great hosting service will do more than just rent you space on their server.[2] It will provide WordPress themes that are built for speed and performance, will have plugins already built in for this purpose, will provide unlimited bandwidth so that traffic is not limited, and do all of this at a reasonable cost. Check and compare – hosting is important.[3]

    3. Choose a Good Caching Plugin

    There are several WordPress plugins for caching, and any of them will work to improve page load time. Basically, caching is the storing of data in a browser that has accessed your blog before. Once someone has accessed your blog, elements will be cached in their browser and load time will be faster from then on. One favorite WordPress cache plugin is W3 Total Cache. It’s free (all cache plugins are, actually) and it is easy to install.

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    4. Get a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    Load time is impacted by the distance of a visitor from your server. A CDN allows your content to be served on servers closer to your visitors. Most CDNs come with a fee, such as Max CDN Content Delivery Network, which is great for WordPress sites. But WordPress also offers a free one, Free-CDN, which many say is just as good as the fee-based ones.

    5. All Images Must be Optimized

    If your analysis tool has recommended that you optimize images, you must do so. Images are really important because they will engage a visitor much more than just walls of text.[4] The problem is that every image you include increases the file size of your pages. Over time, the more images you add to your blog, the slower your pages will load, because each image has to be downloaded.

    Optimizing your images is simply compressing them and reducing their file size. You can optimize each image individually, which is a lot of work, or you can have it done automatically (much better idea). Yahoo has an image optimizer, Smush.it that does a great job without affecting image quality. But you have to do them one at a time. WordPress, however, has a free plugin, WP-SmushIt, that will optimize all of your images automatically – what could be easier? And it’s simple to install.

    6. Optimize Your Blog Homepage

    There isn’t a single magic bullet plugin for this, but there are several things you can do individually to make your home page load faster.

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    • Provide only “teasers” to your most recent or most popular posts on the homepage, rather than the full posts
    • Show fewer posts on the homepage
    • Get rid of any plugins that you loaded thinking you would use them but did not. Every plugin you add slows you down just a bit.
    • Take sharing widgets off the homepage. Put them in your individual posts instead. (You probably already have them there anyway – most people will not “share” your entire blog with their friends – they will share individual posts.)

    De-cluttering your homepage will not only make it load faster – it will look cleaner and neater to visitors.

    7. Install LazyLoad

    If all of your images have to load the instant a visitor accesses your site, the load time will be slower. Instead, you can install jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin and have the images load as the visitor navigates – they will load as the visitor gets to that spot. And they will not load if a visitor doesn’t go any further, but stays to read one of your posts. Efficient and much better for load time.

    8. Reduce the Storage of Drafts and Revisions

    You work on a post over a day; you review it, revise it, and have thus created several drafts all of which WordPress has stored. You don’t need these earlier drafts, so why keep them in your stored data? It is just more to load when your blog is accessed.

    Install the Revision Control plugin and save maybe only the last draft before you have the final draft published. Saving just the most recent draft will allow you access if, by some huge error, you delete your post. You have a backup, but you only need one.

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    9. Get Rid of Unused Plugins

    This belongs in its own category. WordPress bloggers have an amazing number of available plugins, most of which are actually free. Just check out the WordPress.org/plugins site and you will see. But which ones to choose? Sometimes WordPress hosts will have the major plugins already added in. You will probably add others as you go along. But the more plugins you add, the slower the load time.

    Every WordPress blogger should re-evaluate his/her plugins over time. What you once thought would be cool, you have never used. Get rid of them and stick to plugins that are the most important.[5]

    Any one of these tips will not, by itself, give you breakneck speed. But if you follow this checklist of tips and regularly analyze your load time, you will keep your visitors/readers happy.

    Reference

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    Last Updated on April 17, 2019

    10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

    10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

    What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

    Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

    They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

    1. Communication Skills

    Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

    To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

    Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

    Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

    After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

    2. Flexibility

    Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

    Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

    Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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    Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

    3. Being a Team Player

    Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

    What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

    This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

    Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

    4. Positive Mental Attitude

    There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

    Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

    Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

    It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

    Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

    5. A Strong Work Ethic

    People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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    If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

    Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

    • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
    • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
    • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
    • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

    For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

    6. Public Speaking

    Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

    Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

    If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

    For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

    Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

    7. Integrity

    From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

    • Always doing what you say you will do
    • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

    …even when no one is around to check up on you.

    There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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    Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

    8. Managing Your Time

    Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

    A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

    Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

    Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

    These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

    9. Assertiveness

    In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

    • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
    • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
    • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
    • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

    Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

    How do you use this information for yourself?

    It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

    Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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    How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

    10. Creative Thinking

    LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

    Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

    How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

    Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

    These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

    You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

    What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

    Final Thoughts

    The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

    So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

    The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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    Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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