Slow website speed can come from a variety of reasons, like oversized images, outdated code, plugin and theme incompatibilities or in some instances, very heavy visitor traffic.
If you have a WordPress website, the first step to improve speed is to figure out what is slowing it down. You can do this by running a website diagnostic report on it using the X-Ray tool available on your hosting control panel.
This X-ray tool will pinpoint slowdowns that could be affecting both the website ‘frontend’ (your website load speed) and your website ‘backend’ (your WordPress admin dashboard load speed).
Use the steps below to run a diagnostic report on your website using the X-ray tool.
Please note this tool only works on WordPress websites.
1. Log in to your hosting control panel
2. Click on the X-Ray button
3. Click on the Start Tracing button
4. You’ll get a Start tracing popup, from the URL* dropdown, select your website
Note: Remember, X-ray will only work on WordPress websites.
5. In the Specify mask field, put in an asterisk *
6. Leave your browser window open on the X-Ray page on the Start tracing popup and don’t click anything else
7. Open a new and separate browser window on Incognito or Private mode, type in your website’s domain name in the search bar however do not press enter, i.e. don’t load your website yet however have it ready to be loaded within your browser
8. Go back to your X-Ray tool and on the Start tracing popup, click the Run button
9. Return to your browser where your website domain name is in the search bar, and click enter on your keyboard to load your website, do a few clicks around your website
10. Leave the X-Ray tool to run for approximately 60 minutes (1 hour)
11. After 60 minutes (1 hour), click on the eye icon 👁️ under the Actions column where your X-ray task is running
12. Under Requests, you will see one or a series of requests listed, click directly on the request at the top with the longest Duration
13. Then click the Download as PDF button to save the PDF file to your computer
14. Open the PDF file and you will find your website diagnostic report (X-ray report)
The detailed X-ray report will pinpoint exactly where slowdowns are occurring under Top Issues. It may be a specific plugin, a theme or a custom script running on your website and slowing it down.
Once you’ve identified the culprits, you can take action to improve performance — this might mean deactivating and deleting an unnecessary plugin, changing themes or optimizing your custom scripts. The slowest components will be color-coded to help you identify where the majority of your load time is being spent.
The X-ray report is also invaluable to share and review alongside a website developer in order to provide more in-depth solutions for enhancing your website speed.
Here is a sampling of what the first page of the X-ray report looks like:
There are other steps you can use to fix a slow website as well, including:
1. Using a lightweight theme: Some WordPress themes are badly coded and bloated with unnecessary features, which can slow down your website. Choose a lightweight, streamlined theme that includes only the features you need.
2. Optimize theme use: Your website can only use one theme at a time, however you may have several other themes installed on your WordPress admin dashboard. Deactivate and delete any inactive themes.
3. Optimize plugin use: While plugins are great for advanced website functions, having too many can slow down your website significantly. Deactivate and delete any plugins that aren’t absolutely necessary, and try to avoid plugins known to cause slow speed, such as Jetpack and Wordfence.
4. Optimize images: Large image files can slow down your website. Try to compress your images before uploading them using an online compression tool, or use an image optimize plugin to automatically compress images when you upload them to your website.
5. Use cache: Website cache stores parts of your website so they load quicker when people visit them. You can use a cache plugin to optimize your website load time, here are some common WordPress cache plugins.
6. Optimize database: Databases store all of the information from your website. As you make revisions, your database grows and this can lead to a slow website. Make a point to optimize your database on a frequent basis using available and well-vetted WordPress plugins.