Joomla is a great platform for building websites. It’s free to use, well-established and can create professional sites that are highly functional. However, just like those built on other platforms, Joomla sites can be sluggish and have slow loading times. If this is happening to your site, you need to get the issue fixed before it starts impacting on your business. To help, here are the best ways to improve the speed of your Joomla site.
Why it’s important to have a fast loading Joomla website
Fast website loading times are essential on today’s internet. Visitors expect sites to load instantly no matter what device they are using or how they are connected. If a site loads slowly, they’ll abandon it. Even a single second’s delay has been shown to reduce a website’s conversion rates by 7%. It’s not just visitors who are concerned either, search engines are too. Google now takes speed into consideration when ranking a site in its search results and this means slow sites will end up getting less traffic.
So, if you want a faster Joomla site, here’s what to do.
1. Enable caching
If you have a site with lots of static content or where the content of the pages rarely changes, you can speed up the loading times by using caching. Essentially, caching allows the static elements of a web page to be stored on a users’ device so that when they revisit only the dynamic elements need to be downloaded from your server. By reducing the amount of data that needs to be sent, you can easily speed up the page loading time..
To enable Joomla caching, firstly, you’ll need to enable the Joomla Cache extension. To do this, go to Extensions > Plugin Manager and check for the System cache extension. If it’s there, enable it. If not, install it first, then enable it.
Once the extension is enabled go to Global Configuration > System Tab and choose Cache Settings. Here you can select progressive or conservative caching. In most cases, conservative caching is the most suitable.
2. Enable G-Zip compression
You may have come across G-Zipped files before, in the form of email attachments or downloads. Essentially, they are files that have been compressed to make them smaller for easier and quicker sending. When you get a G-Zip attachment or download, you unzip or extract it on your computer before using.
You can also use G-Zip compression for sending web site data. By doing this, the size of the web page is reduced so it arrives quicker on the user’s device. The user’s browser automatically extracts the data for viewing. Compressing, sending and uncompressing is a faster way to load a website than sending the data uncompressed.
To enable G-Zip compression on Joomla go to Global Configuration > Server > Server Settings. Once there, select G-Zip Page Configuration and click ‘Enable’.
3. Uninstall site-slowing extensions
Whilst extensions can add a great deal of functionality to your website, they do have an impact on your site speed. As they have separate software to the main Joomla code, each extension will require extra HTTPS requests to be sent during loading.
Some plugins are better optimised for speed than others, so it could be helpful to compare the speed of your site with them enabled and disabled using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If a particular extension is having a significant impact on speed, you may want to consider finding an alternative.
As a general rule, the fewer extensions you use the quicker your site can load. If an extension is not essential, it could be better to remove it completely. You should always uninstall any unused extensions as well.
4. Configure .htaccess file for speed
Making small changes to your .htaccess file is another way to improve the speed of your site. Some commonly used additions include ETag, which instructs a user’s browser to fetch images from the device’s cache instead of from your server, and AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE, which minimises the HTML source code so it loads quicker.
5. Optimise your images
Images are some of the biggest pieces of data sent when a website is loading, so anything you can do to reduce their size is helpful in speeding up the loading time – especially if you have a website that has lots of visual content.
One way to speed up your images it to make sure they are optimised for the internet. Only upload .png images if possible, make sure their resolution is 72dpi and resize them to match the dimensions used by your theme.
6. Use a Content Delivery Network
Despite the blistering speeds of today’s internet, the distance your data has to travel to a user’s browser still has an impact on the loading time. If your server is in the UK, your site will load quicker in Europe than it does in Australia. A Content Delivery Network, however, can change this.
Basically, a Content Delivery Network is a collection of globally distributed proxy servers that store cached data from your site. When used, it means a visitor can download your site from the nearest and, therefore, quickest of these proxy servers.
8. Make your site mobile-friendly
With the majority of browsing now taking place on smartphones, your website really does need to be responsive. If not, you could be losing business from all those mobile surfers, and as Google now uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, it could be affecting your traffic too.
However, when it comes to speed, the best way to boost your mobile loading times is to use Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMPs are web pages designed to load very quickly on smartphones regardless of how they are connected to the internet, what kind of smartphone is used or where the user is located (provided they have some kind of signal, of course).
9. Choose the right hosting solution
Besides the configuration of your website, the other leading factor in improving your loading time is the hosting package you use. Servers that are not optimised for Joomla won’t provide the best performance. You also need to think about the actual hardware being used to host your site, too. Does your host regularly update the hardware and is it using the latest technology? All these things can have an impact.
If you are using Joomla, you have chosen a platform that can provide you with a great website. Hopefully, the information in this post will enable you to make that site perform even better and load faster so that you can benefit from higher Google rankings, increased traffic and improved sales.
If you are considering a better hosting option for your website, take a look at our dedicated Joomla hosting options. Designed specifically for Joomla sites, we provide the latest hardware with SSD accelerated storage and servers configured for optimum Joomla performance. We’ll also migrate your site to our servers for you – for free.