Diagnosing sluggish sites

According to the calendar, it’s Spring and time to go through parts of the Website Maintenance Checklist. One common question I hear this time of year is “My WordPress site is slow. What can be done?” The issue can be any number of factors appearing individually or in multiple combinations. The result is the same, your website is sluggish.


It’s a good idea to review your plugins to make sure you are using only the ones you need and that they are being maintained. Some plugins will slow down your site by the very nature of what they do. It’s not that they are all poorly written, but in order for them to integrate with your site they add on to it in a way that has a small cost. One or two may not be noticeable, but they can gang up on you and cause your site to slow down.

But I need all my plugins!

If you decide they are critical for your site, I will help you understand the trade-offs if a plugin is indeed one of the causes of the slow down.

There are some steps that can be taken to defer and minimize the impact of some plugins have on your site. While not a perfect cure, these fixes can help provide some relief for a sluggish site.


It’s important to also look at your theme. If you are adding extras to make it fit your style, that may have an impact. Any one change can be tiny and not perceived, but small costs (measuring in milliseconds) can add up to a noticeable slow down. As with your plugins, there are some workarounds that may increase efficiency.


You may need to optimize your database. WordPress (and many plugins) store temporary records and sometimes neglects to remove them. Optimizing the database to remove unused temporary entries will result in one that is leaner and faster. Make sure you have a backup before you do this!

Network and Host

It could be your web host or it could be the path on the way to your web host. Why might it be your host? If you run WordPress, they might want to charge you more for WordPress optimized service. But what about what happens between your computer and your website? While you have little control about most of this, it’s good to know where the issue lies. If the above fixes don’t resolve the slowness it’s time to look at the network and your web host. To a degree, you get what you pay for, but sometimes it’s possible to identify common areas that can be addressed.


I hope this quick review of where your site might be slow helps you begin to speed things up.