why your website’s sluggish (and how to fix it)

October 9, 2023

written by
Rex Vokey

Alright, let’s cut to the chase. We’ve all been there — waiting impatiently for a website to load, only to give up and move on. A slow website is like a coffee shop running out of coffee — a total letdown. Now, it can be easy to drop the ball when it comes to delivering that lightning-fast experience. But here at 300FeetOut, we make it our mission to ensure sites run like well-oiled machines. In this post, we’ll expose the 7 most common (and sometimes cringeworthy) mistakes lurking behind sluggish websites. And, just to keep things spicy, we’ll sprinkle in a few facts, some personal rants, and maybe a fun fact or two. Ready to unveil the truth behind top-tier website performance? Let’s roll.


not optimizing images

Imagine this: you’re at an art gallery, but instead of smoothly moving from one painting to the next, you’re stuck waiting for each masterpiece to appear slowly, piece by piece. Annoying, right? That’s the digital equivalent of slapping hefty images onto your website without a second thought.

  • The heavy lifting: Unoptimized images are like deadweights on your site, dragging load times and user patience down.
  • Quick fix: Tools like TinyPNG or can shrink your images without compromising the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. Keep an eye on those file sizes, and your visitors will thank you.
  • If 3FO built your site: Just make sure you keep the dimensions from being too large, and our automatic optimizations will take care of the rest!


going overboard with plugins

Plugins are the double-edged swords of the website world. On one side, they gift us with functionalities that would otherwise take eons to code. On the flip side, pile on too many, and you’ve got yourself a digital traffic jam.

  • Plugin pandemonium: Each plugin can introduce additional requests, scripts, and potential conflicts, bogging down performance.
  • Trim the fat: Adopt a Marie Kondo approach to plugins. If it doesn’t spark joy (read: essential functionality), thank it for its service and let it go. Regularly audit your plugins, keeping only what’s essential.
  • The 3FO way: We do install plugins, but we only install the necessary ones, and your retainer includes a monthly audit and update of your plugins.


choosing poor hosting providers

Choosing a hosting provider is like choosing where to build your house. Build on shaky ground, and you’ll feel every tremor.

  • The unseen hero: A solid hosting provider isn’t just about uptime; it’s about speed, support, and scalability.
  • Invest wisely: Don’t be lured by cheap deals. Research, read reviews, and consider factors like CDN integration, SSD storage, and customer support.
  • The 3FO way: For our WordPress builds, we always recommend Pantheon. If your site is a Jamstack build, a great provider is Vercel.


ignoring caching opportunities

Caching might sound like techie jargon, but trust me, it’s a little sprinkle of magic in the digital world. Done right, caching can be the wind beneath a website’s wings, giving it that extra boost of speed.

  • The power of remembering: Without caching, every visitor is like a new guest you’re introducing to your home each time. With caching, it’s like welcoming back an old friend who knows where the snacks are.
  • Embrace the cache: If your site is on a hosting provider like Pantheon or WP Engine, they’re already caching it for you.  If not, use tools like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache for WordPress sites.
  • A step further: Cloudflare can be set up to cache your site’s pages right at the edge, near your user’s location.  Yes, Pantheon and WP Engine do this too, but Cloudflare takes it even further with other optimizations available, as well as enhanced security.


neglecting mobile optimization

Ever tried reading a broadsheet newspaper on a subway? Yep, that’s how users feel navigating a non-responsive website on mobile. With the majority of users surfing the web on mobile, there’s no excuse to ignore this.

  • Shrinking digital spaces: Not optimizing for mobile isn’t just about screen size; it’s about adjusting for touch controls, load times, and data usage.
  • Get mobile ready: Make sure your site build accommodates mobile – it should seamlessly work on almost all screen sizes.   Always test on different devices and consider enhanced media services that provide mobile-sized images for lightning-fast mobile loading.



failing to minimize and concatenate files

Imagine a juggler with too many balls in the air — that’s your browser trying to load multiple CSS and JS files. Why not hand it fewer, heavier balls instead?

  • Streamline for speed: Multiple files can result in multiple server requests, slowing things down.
  • Simplify and conquer: Tools like CSSNano and UglifyJS can help minimize files. Also, consider HTTP/2 for multiplexing multiple requests into one connection.
  • The 3FO way: All of our builds are hyper-optimized, putting the CSS and JS into as few files as possible – even going so far as to load just what’s needed for that initial view “above the fold,” then loading the rest once the user has seen the site.


overlooking cdn benefits

Think of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) as a global team of relay runners, passing your website’s data baton to the nearest runner, ensuring it gets to users swiftly.

  • Speedy delivery, everywhere: CDNs store copies of your site on multiple servers worldwide, ensuring users get data from the nearest source.
  • Go global: Popular options include Cloudflare, Akamai, and AWS CloudFront. A bit of setup, and you’re good to go global.


just fix it

Speed matters. In our digital age, every millisecond can be the difference between a bounce and a conversion. By dodging these common pitfalls and arming yourself with best practices, you’re not just boosting your website’s performance; you’re enhancing user experience, SEO, and conversions. Remember, in the race of web performance, it’s about going fast AND smart.