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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 December 5, 2018

    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

    Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

    We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

    How do they do it?

    By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

    1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

    There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

    If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

    2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

    Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

    According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

    Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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    3. Demand Learning from Your Team

    CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

    “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

    His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

    Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

    “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

    Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

    4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

    Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

    Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

    • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
    • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
    • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
    • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
    • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
    • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

    5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

    Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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    Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

    • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
    • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
    • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
    • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
    • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

      “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

    Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

    6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

    The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

    Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

    You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

    7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

    Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

    But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

    On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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    • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
    • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
    • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
    • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

    8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

    Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

    When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

    9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

    The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

    What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

    Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

    10. Empower Your Employees

    Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

    They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

    Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

    You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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    If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

    11. Nurture Your Company Culture

    Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

    Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

    However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

    Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

    Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

    Be a Leader, Not a Boss

    Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

    However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

    In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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