How to best optimise your WordPress site

WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) in the world, powering over 40% of all websites on the internet. As more and more businesses and individuals rely on the internet, it is crucial to implement sustainable web design practises to decrease carbon output. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which efficient WordPress web design can reduce the carbon footprint of websites.

Optimise your images

One of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions from websites is through efficient design. This includes optimising images, reducing file sizes, and minimising the use of heavy resources such as video and audio. The larger the size of a website, the more energy it takes to load, and the more carbon emissions are produced. By reducing the size of the website, less energy is required to load it, which results in fewer emissions.

In WordPress, there are several ways to optimise images for the web. One of the most popular ways is by using a plugin such as Smush Image Compression and Optimisation. This plugin automatically compresses images as they are uploaded to the website, reducing file sizes without compromising on quality. Another popular plugin is EWWW Image Optimiser, which also compresses images but also has the added feature of converting images to the most appropriate file format for web use. Using something like LiteSpeed Cache plugin with, can also allow you to swap out your images for webp versions of them, for ultimate lightweight images.

Use clean (green) energy

Another really good way to decrease your websites carbon output is by using clean energy to power data centres. Many data centresrely on fossil fuels, which contribute to carbon emissions. By using renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, data centres can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.

Some popular green web hosting companies include GreenGeeks, A2 Hosting, and DreamHost. These companies offset the carbon emissions produced by their servers by investing in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar power. Krystal Hosting for example uses entirely green energy, as do we.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

CDNs are a network of servers that are distributed around the world. By using a CDN, website owners can ensure that their website is delivered to users from the nearest server, reducing the distance that data needs to travel, and thus reducing emissions. It’s kind of like your phones 5G signal, it’ll find the nearest mast to give you the best connection. With CDN’s, it’ll serve assets to you from the closest server to you connected to the Content Delivery Network.

Some popular plugin options for setting up your own CDN include Cloudflare, StackPath, and MaxCDN. These plugins allow website owners to easily connect their website to a CDN and start reaping the benefits of faster load times and reduced carbon emissions. But you can also set up your own CDN manually, if you know your way around a server and perhaps something like AWS.

Keep your code clean and efficient

One of the best ways to avoid high load times (and thus, more carbon output) is to keep your code as efficient as possible. This includes using less code, implementing compression techniques, and minimising the use of unnecessary elements such as extra whitespace and comments. By using efficient coding practises, website owners can reduce the size of the code, which results in faster loading times and fewer emissions.

Think about using plugins such as Autoptimize and WP Minify to minify and compress the code of their website. These plugins automatically remove unnecessary elements from the code and minify the remaining code, resulting in a smaller file size and faster loading times. Again, another shout out to Litespeed Cache plugin, as allows you to really dig deep in your code and optimise it as fully as possible.

Reduce your server load

A website with high traffic can generate a lot of server load, which results in increased energy consumption and carbon emissions. By optimising the website for performance, website owners can reduce server load, which results in fewer emissions. But that’s not all, optimising the server itself for WordPress websites is generally a good idea. LiteSpeed web server works extremely well as a drop in replacement for Apache, and really helps take the weight off WordPress sites.

Keep your software up to date

One of the biggest, and maybe easiest, things you can do to optimise your WordPress site happy, is to keep your plugins up to date. Don’t use outdated plugins with no support, and don’t miss critical updates to plugins. The same goes for WordPress itself, it’s easy to miss an update for a while, but sometimes that’s all hackers need to exploit a vulnerability and turn your website into a a slave on a bot network.