How To Improve Your Time To Interactive on WordPressApril 10, 2023 | By David Selden-Treiman | Filed in: Core Web Vitals.
- How Do I Get My Time To Interactive Score?
- Optimizing WordPress for Better Time To Interactive
- Implement Caching and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
- Optimize Media Files and Content
- Regularly Monitor and Maintain Your Site’s Performance
- Consider Using a Performance-Optimized Hosting Provider
Hey there! If you’re looking to improve your Time to Interactive (TTI) on your WordPress site, you’ve come to the right place. TTI is an important metric that measures the time it takes for your website to become fully interactive and responsive to user input. In simpler terms, it’s the moment when your site’s content has loaded and users can interact with it without any delay.
Improving your TTI is crucial for several reasons. First, it greatly enhances the user experience, as nobody likes to wait around for a website to load. Imagine you’re browsing an online store, and it takes forever for the product images to load or for the filters to work properly – frustrating, right? That’s what a slow TTI can feel like for your site visitors.
Second, search engines like Google consider site speed as a ranking factor, which means that a faster TTI can help improve your search engine rankings. This, in turn, leads to more organic traffic and potentially more conversions.
Lastly, a slow TTI can result in higher bounce rates. If your site takes too long to become interactive, visitors may leave before engaging with your content, products, or services. For example, if you run a blog and your TTI is high, readers might abandon your site before even reading your articles, reducing your chances of gaining subscribers or generating ad revenue.
In the following sections, we’ll dive into practical steps to help you improve your WordPress site’s TTI and ensure a smooth experience for your users. Let’s get started!
How Do I Get My Time To Interactive Score?
Before you start optimizing your WordPress site, it’s essential to know where you stand in terms of your Time To Interactive score. By measuring your current TTI, you’ll have a baseline to compare your improvements against, and you’ll be able to track your progress more effectively.
Tools to Measure TTI
There are several great tools available to help you measure your site’s TTI. Here are three popular ones:
This is a free, open-source tool from Google that can audit your site’s performance, accessibility, and other metrics. It’s available in the Chrome DevTools or as a browser extension for Chrome. To use Lighthouse, simply open the DevTools, navigate to the “Lighthouse” tab, and click “Generate report.”
This user-friendly web-based tool analyzes your site’s performance and provides actionable recommendations. To use GTmetrix, head to their website, enter your site’s URL, and click “Test your site.” Once the analysis is complete, you’ll see a detailed report with your TTI and other performance metrics.
This is another powerful online tool that provides a comprehensive report on your site’s performance, including TTI. To use WebPageTest, go to their website, enter your site’s URL, and hit “Start Test.” You’ll receive a report with a wealth of information on your site’s performance.
Understanding TTI Metrics and Reports
Now that you know how to assess your current TTI, let’s move on to the steps you can take to improve it and make your WordPress site faster and more interactive!
Optimizing WordPress for Better Time To Interactive
Ready to give your WordPress site a speed boost? Let’s explore some practical ways to optimize your site and improve your TTI.
Choose a Performance-Optimized Hosting Provider
Your website’s hosting provider plays a critical role in your TTI. A good host should provide fast server response times and be able to handle traffic spikes without slowing down your site. Here are some hosting options to consider:
Managed WordPress Hosting
These hosting providers specialize in WordPress and offer a fine-tuned environment designed for optimal performance. Examples include WP Engine, Kinsta, and SiteGround. While they may be a bit pricier than shared hosting, the performance improvements are often worth the investment.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
Cloud hosting providers like DigitalOcean, AWS, Hetzner, and Google Cloud offer scalable VPS resources and fast response times. This type of hosting can be more complex to set up, but it can deliver excellent performance, especially for high-traffic sites.
What Hosting Do We Use?
At Potent Pages, we manage our own hosting using VPSs from Digital Ocean and Hetzner. Our hosting specializes in high-performance under higher traffic loads, and we provide it to our clients as well. If you would like higher-performance hosting, please let us know!
Use a lightweight theme and optimize plugins
Your WordPress theme and plugins can significantly impact your site’s TTI. Here’s how to make sure they’re not slowing you down:
Selecting a Fast-Loading Theme
Choose a lightweight, performance-optimized theme to ensure a quick TTI. Look for themes that prioritize speed and simplicity, like Astra, GeneratePress, or Schema Lite. These themes have minimal bloat and are built with performance in mind.
Regularly Updating and Auditing Plugins
Keep your plugins up-to-date, as developers often release performance improvements in new versions. Also, periodically review your plugins and remove any that are no longer needed or are causing performance issues. For example, if you have two image optimization plugins, choose the one that works best and remove the other.
Removing Unused Plugins and Themes
Unused plugins and themes can still have an impact on your site’s performance. Uninstall any plugins and themes you’re not using to reduce potential security risks and improve your TTI.
By carefully selecting your hosting provider and optimizing your theme and plugins, you’re well on your way to improving your WordPress site’s TTI. But there’s more work to be done, so let’s keep going!
Implement Caching and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
Caching and CDNs are two powerful techniques that can dramatically improve your TTI. Let’s take a closer look at how they work and how to implement them on your WordPress site.
Server-side caching stores a static version of your website’s pages, reducing the amount of work the server has to do each time a visitor requests a page. There are different types of server-side caching:
This type of caching stores database query results, so the server doesn’t need to execute the same query repeatedly. WordPress has a built-in object cache, but you can enhance its performance with plugins like Redis or Memcached.
Opcode caching saves compiled PHP code to speed up page generation. You can enable opcode caching by installing the PHP opcode caching module.
Page caching stores fully rendered HTML pages, significantly reducing server load and speeding up TTI. Popular WordPress plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can help you implement page caching on your site.
If you want to manually enable browser caching directly, add this to the .htaccess file in your site’s main folder:
# Enable expirations
# Default directive
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 year"
# Images (JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF, SVG, ICO)
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/svg+xml "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
# Fonts (WOFF, WOFF2, TTF)
ExpiresByType application/font-woff "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/font-woff2 "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/x-font-ttf "access plus 1 year"
# PDF documents
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access plus 1 month"
# GZIP compression
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed across the globe that serve your site’s static resources from a server closest to your visitor. This reduces the time it takes for resources to reach the user, improving TTI.
Some well-known CDN providers include Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, and Akamai. Many of these providers offer easy integration with WordPress, either through their own plugins or through caching plugins
By implementing server-side and browser caching, along with a CDN, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your TTI and deliver a faster, more responsive experience to your visitors.
Optimize Media Files and Content
Media files like images and videos can be some of the largest assets on your site, and if they’re not optimized, they can significantly slow down your TTI. Let’s explore how to optimize your media files for a faster, more responsive website.
Optimizing images is essential for improving TTI. Here are some best practices to follow:
Properly Sizing Images
Ensure that your images are the right dimensions for their display size on your site. For example, if your blog’s content area is 800 pixels wide, there’s no need to upload images that are 2000 pixels wide. Resize your images to the appropriate dimensions before uploading them to WordPress.
Compression and Format Selection
Compress your images to reduce their file size without sacrificing quality. You can use tools like Photoshop or GIMP to compress images before uploading them, or you can use a WordPress plugin like Imagify or ShortPixel to compress images automatically. Additionally, consider using modern image formats like WebP, which offer better compression than traditional formats like JPEG and PNG.
Lazy Loading Images
Lazy loading delays the loading of images that are not visible in the user’s viewport until they scroll down to them. This can significantly improve your TTI by reducing the amount of data that needs to be loaded when a page first loads. You can implement lazy loading with a plugin like a3 Lazy Load.
Videos can also have a substantial impact on your TTI. Here’s how to optimize them:
Hosting Videos on External Platforms
Instead of hosting videos directly on your WordPress site, consider using an external platform like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia. These platforms are optimized for video streaming and can handle the bandwidth and storage requirements better than your server.
Using a Video CDN
If you need to host videos on your site, consider using a video CDN like Cloudflare Stream or Amazon CloudFront. These services can distribute your video files across a global network of servers, ensuring faster playback and improved TTI.
Lazy Loading Videos
Just like with images, lazy loading videos can help improve your TTI. Only load the video player when it’s visible in the user’s viewport. You can use a plugin like Lazy Load for Videos to implement lazy loading for your videos.
By optimizing your media files and content, you can significantly reduce their impact on your site’s TTI, leading to a more responsive and enjoyable experience for your users.
Use a Plugin
Use an Online Tool
Use a Plugin
Add the ‘defer’ Attribute
Regularly Monitor and Maintain Your Site’s Performance
Optimizing your WordPress site’s TTI is an ongoing process. To ensure that your site stays fast and responsive, it’s essential to regularly monitor and maintain its performance. Here are some steps you can take to keep your site running smoothly:
Regular Performance Audits
Schedule regular performance audits using the tools mentioned earlier, like Google Lighthouse, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. By consistently measuring your site’s TTI and other performance metrics, you can identify any issues that arise and address them before they become more significant problems.
Keep WordPress, Themes, and Plugins Up-To-Date
Developers often release updates that include performance improvements and security patches. Make sure to regularly update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins to ensure you’re taking advantage of the latest enhancements and keeping your site secure.
Review and Optimize Your Content
As your site grows, you may add more content, images, videos, and other assets. It’s essential to periodically review and optimize this content to prevent it from slowing down your TTI. For example, you might find older images that could benefit from compression or resizing, or you may discover embedded videos that could be replaced with links to external platforms.
Monitor server performance
Your hosting environment can also impact your site’s TTI. Regularly monitor your server’s performance using tools like New Relic or your hosting provider’s dashboard. If you notice a consistent decline in server performance, it might be time to upgrade your hosting plan or consider switching to a more performance-optimized hosting provider.
Be Careful When Adding New Features
When adding new features, plugins, or themes to your site, consider their potential impact on performance. Always test new additions in a staging environment to ensure they don’t negatively affect your TTI, and remove any unnecessary features that could be slowing down your site.
By staying vigilant and regularly monitoring your site’s performance, you can proactively address any issues that arise, keeping your WordPress site fast, responsive, and enjoyable for your users. And remember, improving your TTI is an ongoing process, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see instant results. Keep working on it, and you’ll continue to see progress over time.
Consider Using a Performance-Optimized Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider plays a significant role in your site’s TTI and overall performance. If you’ve optimized your WordPress site using the strategies mentioned above and still find your TTI lacking, it might be time to consider switching to a performance-optimized hosting provider. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of using a performance-optimized hosting provider and how to choose one.
Benefits of Performance-Optimized Hosting
- Faster server response times: Performance-optimized hosting providers typically offer faster server response times, which can directly improve your TTI.
- Scalability: These hosting providers often provide more scalable solutions, allowing you to handle more traffic without sacrificing performance.
- Better caching and server-level optimizations: Performance-optimized hosting providers usually include server-level caching and other optimizations that can further improve your site’s TTI.
- Enhanced security: High-performance hosting providers often include advanced security features that can help protect your site from threats and keep it running smoothly.
Choosing the Right Hosting Provider
When considering a performance-optimized hosting provider, it’s essential to evaluate their offerings based on your site’s specific needs. Here are some factors to consider:
- Type of hosting: There are various types of hosting, including shared, VPS, dedicated, and managed WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting is often optimized for performance and security, making it an excellent choice for many WordPress sites.
- Server location: Choose a hosting provider with server locations near your target audience to reduce latency and improve TTI.
- Support for performance-enhancing features: Look for a hosting provider that supports features like server-level caching, HTTP/2, and PHP 8, which can help improve your site’s TTI.
- Customer reviews and reputation: Check customer reviews and the provider’s reputation to ensure they have a track record of delivering excellent performance and support.
There are many hosting providers that provide optimized hosting. At Potent Pages, we use our own highly-optimized hosting. Look for hosting that is designed for speed and will provide you with support for bursts of traffic.
By switching to a performance-optimized hosting provider, you can further improve your site’s TTI and provide a better experience for your visitors. Keep in mind that migrating your site to a new hosting provider can be a complex process, so make sure to plan carefully and seek professional assistance if needed.
Remember, optimizing your site is an ongoing process, and regularly monitoring and maintaining your site’s performance will help you address any issues before they become more significant problems. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see instant results; keep working on it, and you’ll continue to see progress over time.
With a faster, more responsive WordPress site, you’ll not only improve your user experience but also potentially benefit from better search engine rankings and increased conversions. So, take the time to optimize your site’s TTI and enjoy the rewards of a better-performing website.
David Selden-Treiman is Director of Operations and a project manager at Potent Pages. He specializes in custom web crawler development, website optimization, server management, web application development, and custom programming. Working at Potent Pages since 2012 and programming since 2003, David has extensive expertise solving problems using programming for dozens of clients. He also has extensive experience managing and optimizing servers, managing dozens of servers for both Potent Pages and other clients.