11 tips to speed up your Joomla website

Why having a fast loading website is so important? Page load time affects two important factors that may have influence on the success of your site: seo rank and conversion rate.  Lets take a look on what you can do to improve performance of your Joomla website.

1.Choose a good web hosting

Web hosting is the most important thing. All other performance tips may be useless, if you do not have a good and fast web hosting. I suggest you to read some reviews and forums to find the one that will be perfect for your site and needs. I think that I do not need to mention that you should avoid free hosts. That should be obvious.

2.Keep Joomla and extensions up-to-date

Beside security reasons, having the latest version of Joomla core, extensions and templates is very important for your website performance. Usually the new version achieves some code improvements and work better than the old version.

3.Remove unused extensions

Each extension installed on Joomla is taking some system and database resources. Usually there are also some additional CSS and JS files loaded into the head section of your template which may increase the overall size of the whole website. A good practice is to keep only those extensions which are currently used on your site. If you often test new extensions, remember to uninstall them if you do not use them.

4.Enable Joomla caching

If caching is disabled, when a user visits a page, all data needs to be loaded on each page request. As you can imagine, such process takes some time. By enabling Joomla caching, if someone will visit your site for the first time, all data will be cached and stored as lighter and faster content that will be loaded for all the next visitors.
There are two main settings related to caching in Joomla.

Cache setting in Global Configuration

To enable Joomla caching go to System → Global Configuration → System and choose the caching method:
Available methods of caching:

  • conservative – the same cached content is loaded for all visitors
  • progressive – content is cached separately for each visitor

It is recommended to use the conservative method. The progressive method can be counterproductive if you have a lot of content and a lot of visitors.
Please note that Joomla caching can produce some issues related to extensions. There is additional setting available for each module that allows to turn off the caching. To disable Joomla caching for selected module, go to Extensions → Module Manager and choose a module. On the Advanced tab in the module parameters you can disable caching of the module content:
Another way to speed up your site directly from Joomla settings is compression. When compression is enabled, your site pages are downloaded as zip file and unpacked by browser. This way it is possible to reduce the content size over 50-70%.
To enable this option, go to System → Global Configuration → Server and choose Yes for the Gzip Page Compression

6. Optimize images

Usually, images take the biggest part of the overall website size and this is the main reason why they should be optimized. Take a look on the most important tips regarding image optimization:

  • avoid using large images on your site
  • do not scale images using HTML or CSS
  • remember to add the width and height attributes for each image so browser will know their dimensions before downloading them
  • do not put too many images on a single page
  • use lossless or lossy compression to reduce the size of your images. Usually if you save images using Adobe Photoshop or Gimp, the image size can be still reduced without losing quality. Always remember that images from your camera should be resized and optimized before putting them on your site.

7. Optimize .htaccess

Another way to increase your site speed is tweaking the .htaccess file. Before you start, you need to make sure that you have renamed the htaccess.txt file to .htaccess and enabled the url rewriting in System → Global Configuration → Site

8. Optimize CSS, JS and HTML

Each template and extension load CSS and JS files that may block the content rendering since the browser must process all the files for the current page first. They also produce a number of HTTP requests. If you are using EF4 Framework you can easily compress and optimize CSS/JS files as well as the HTML output. How does it work?

  • it merges all CSS and JS files so the number of requests will descrease
  • it removes all unnecessary spaces, line breaks and comments to reduce file size

9. Tools to optimize Joomla website

In Joomla Extensions Directory you will find a number of optimize extensions. You may be interested in the following ones:

JCH Optimize

Probably the best optimize extension for Joomla. It allows to:

  • combine CSS and JS files into one
  • minify the combined files
  • combine background images into a sprite
  • minify the HTML output
  • CDN support (pro version)
  • load JS asynchronously (pro version)
  • include CSS styles and JS from inline declaration blocks (pro version)
  • and lot more

JBetolo

This is an alternative to JCH Optimize extension. It provides very similar features but it has some advantages over JCH Optimize, for example it provides CDN support in free version where JCH Optimize provides this option in paid version only.

ScriptMerge

Another solution that is worth to mention. It allows to compress CSS, JS and HTML code. There are also many other features that you may want to test on your site.

10. Use a Content Delivery Network

CDN is a large network of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. Using CDN you can serve all the static content (such as scripts, images, videos, music) to your visitors from the server which is in the nearest location to theirs.
CDN can be configured using the JCH Optimize and JBetolo extensions mentioned in the previous tip. There is also a lot more extensions for CDN available in Joomla Extensions Directory.

11. Mobile friendly optimization

It has been almost two months since Google launched a new mobile algorithm. It means that mobile friendly websites get a higher rank in the search results on mobile devices. That is not a surprise since over 50% of online traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices.