The Blog.

Supercharge Your WordPress Website Speed with a CDN

Author:
Dave Meier
Category:
Web Design, WordPress
Date:
June 16, 2014

So what is a CDN?

A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a large collection of servers deployed across the globe. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance. So for example if a user in New York visits your website: the images, content, videos, stylesheets, javascript files, etc. will be served from a server closest to that user. A user in Dublin will be served from a different server which is closer to them. This really speeds up your website for every visitor.


Why should I care?


Faster WordPress website speeds

If configured correctly a CDN can drastically improve your website’s load time. A faster website has a lot of benefits:

Google faster website

Improve Google search rankings

Google has stated that page load speed is a major factor in it’s search ranking algorithm. They are strongly behind helping you improve site load speed and have built a suite of tools just for that purpose

Better user experience for the visitor

The faster a site is to load, the easier it is for the visitor to navigate and consume more of your website’s content. The average person waits between 2.9 – 3.5 seconds for a website to load before they leave. Because of the growing use of all things web related people are getting much more impatient. A lot of content is now consumed while on the go, on mobile devices. People also have a lot more virtual places to go should you take too long to give them what they want. It’s not like someone has to walk from your shop to the next. Your competitor is only 2 clicks away!

Scale services based on demand on your site

Most CDN services allow you to add more bandwidth as you need it. For example say you were on Dragons’ Den pitching your business. Some customers have reported an increase of site visitors by approx. 50,000, within one day of appearing on the show. A lot of websites that are on basic hosting packages have went down because of this surge of traffic. With any decent CDN you can add additional bandwidth which would ensure your website was still active. This is much more cost effective than having to upgrade your hosting plan as that would be upgraded permanently.


Our Own Results


Being web designers we know a thing or two about coding so our own WordPress website would be really well optimised from a coding point of view. We also host our site on a very quick server over at the excellent Media Temple. Here are some snapshots of hd.ie being tested on GTMetrix (a website that tests speed and optimisation).

1) No add ons
The first test is without a CDN activated and no caching plugin installed.

website speedtest 1

As you can see our website loads in approx. 3.64 seconds. With the average visitor wait time at 2.9 – 3.5 seconds, this puts us just on the threshold of an acceptable load speed time but we may still be loosing some visitors due to load time.

2) W3 Total Cache and MaxCDN
We activated and configured the W3 Total Cache plugin which integrates with our CDN account and ran the test again:

website speedtest 3

The CDN and W3 Total Cache helps take our site load time down over 2 seconds. This is a huge improve of 160% and we can safely say that our site won’t be loosing visitors because of how long it takes to load.

Our recommended CDN

MaxCDN is the CDN service we use for hd.ie and also for our photography WordPress website picography.co