Avada is the highest selling theme in the ThemeForest marketplace. It is currently closing in on 400,000 total sales and has been the number one selling theme every week for the past five years. Boasting a huge range of theme options, combined with an advanced, extendable page builder, Avada has all the tools you’ll ever need to get your online presence looking as professional as possible. When choosing a theme for your website, you want to ensure that the theme is backed by solid customer support. This is the main reason I opt for Avada and other high selling themes; they are able to financially support a full-time support team. The most common argument for avoiding such themes is that due to the large number of customers, the theme becomes slow/bloated with features that you don’t need. In this article, we will look at how you can improve the load time of the Avada theme and some of the features that you should avoid using. These are the topics that we will cover.
Before we continue, what makes a website fast?
There are many factors that determine the load time of your website. In this article, we’re going to focus on eight changes/improvements that you can make to your website that will have the largest impact on improving the time it takes to load a page. These changes include:
- Compressing page content
- Caching solutions
- Server resources and load
When it comes to improving speed, the goal is to keep your page size as small as possible without compromising the content. The good part is this is something that you can control. With modern caching and compression solutions, it’s possible to get your pages down to a fraction of their original size without having to change much at all. Once you’ve optimized your page content and implemented a caching solution, it’s time to look at your server setup. Some of the shared hosting environments can suffer from congestion which can result in slow loading pages. If you are hosting your website on one of these congested servers, you have a few options which we will discuss below.
If you wish to check your website’s speed, here are a few tools that provide speed reports:
1. Compress all of your images
This is an easy one and it will have noticable results on your website’s loading time. Before you upload any images to your media library, be sure to compress them as much as possible. There are tons of free tools available that will compress your images for you. If you wish to process the compression off site, you may be interested in one of the following websites:
If you wish to streamline the process, you can install a plugin that will compress your images as they are uploaded to the media library. Some of the more popular plugins include:
In my personal experience, compressing images can save up to 80% of the file size without compromising on the image quality. Remember that processing the images via a plugin will consume more server resources. If you’re using a shared hosting provider and you have a lot of images, off site compression might be the best option for you.
2. Avoid adding sliders to your page
Yes, they may look nice and modern, but a slider is one of the heaviest elements you can add to your page. Sliders usually require multiple large images or videos, both of which will take a lot longer to load compared to other elements. Avada includes three main options for sliders (Fusion, Revolution and Layer). In the tests that I conducted using the ‘Classic’ Avada demo, Layer Slider performs the slowest, followed closely by Revolution Slider. Fusion Slider performed better, but still introduced additional load time.
If speed is important to you, I would recommend uninstalling both Revolution Slider, as well as Layer Slider. If you must use a slider, go with the Fusion Slider. If you want to achieve a similar effect without the baggage, consider using a full width column element with a background image. If you need to give the column some height, you can either use the padding options provided on the column itself, or add a separator element inside the column. The reduction in load time is worth going without the special effects and animations that the sliders offer.
3. Install a caching plugin
When it comes to WordPress, there are three caching options that you can implement to speed up your website. These include caching plugins, browser caching and server caching. Each method works in a different way, but the basic principle is the same.
Without caching, when a visitor requests a page from your website, WordPress will fetch the data from your database and generate the page using that content. Fetching the data and generating the page make up part of your website’s loading time. Caching solutions work by saving a copy of a generated page as a static file on your server. When a visitor requests a page from your website, the server will check if the requested page exists as a static file and if so, serve that file rather than generating the dynamic page again. If you’re interested in knowing a bit more about the process, the WordPress documentation covers the topic in this article.
By storing a copy of your page in cache and serving it for subsequent requests, you skip the time the server would spend generating the page and instead provide the visitor with a copy that was saved from a previous visit. Each caching plugin will have an option that dictates how long pages are stored in the cache before they are purged and recreated. In addition to this setting, when a post or page is updated (when you make a change) that post/page is purged from the cache so it can be created again. There are quite a few popular caching plugins, such as W3 Total Cache (recommended by ThemeFusion for Avada), WP Super Cache (developed by Automattic) and WP Fastest Cache.
I tested all three of the above plugins on Pubvertiser and the results were much the same. In the end, I decided to use a smaller plugin, Cache Enabler. I had already manually set the cache headers in the .htaccess file and was only looking for a plugin to handle the static file serving. If you’re looking for a hands off solution, any of the three popular plugins will do the job. If you wish to have a more fine tuned approach, consider using Cache Enabler and maintaining your own cache headers via your .htaccess file.
4. Keep WordPress, Avada and your plugins up to date
WordPress theme development is a constant process of updates and refinements. While the development team is working on new features, they will often simultaneously work on make existing features more efficient. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep WordPress, Avada and all of your plugins up to date as much as possible.
Avada includes a feature called the ‘Fusion Patcher’. This feature allows the ThemeFusion team to resolve bugs in the Avada theme as well as their Fusion Core/Builder plugins without having to release a new version. The Fusion Patcher is a great tool and this process is generally safe to apply to your live website. Patches are released quite often depending on the severity of the issue and it’s recommended that you apply any patches as soon as they are released.
When it comes to updating WordPress, Avada or any of your plugins (not including the patches above), it’s highly recommended that you either create a staging version of your website, or take a full site backup before proceeding with the update. While new releases are tested by ThemeFusion and their extended beta testing group, it’s impossible to guarantee a smooth update for everyone. Rather than risking your live website, you should always update on a staging copy of your site, or take a full backup first. By creating a staging copy of your website, you can apply the updates in a safe environment, then push those changes to your live site once you have confirmed the update completed successfully. This is the easiest and recommended method if your web hosting provider offers a staging feature.
If you don’t have access to a staging feature, you should create a full site backup (files and database) via your cPanel. That way, if something goes wrong during the update, you can restore your site to its original state.
On a related note, you should uninstall any plugins that you’re not using. Over time, it’s common to accumulate plugins that you’ve used one or twice, but no longer have a use for. It’s worth doing a bit of a clean up every couple of months.
5. Disable the features that you’re not using
As mentioned at the start of this article, Avada includes a lot of features so that it can continue to appeal to its large audience. However, if your website is not using some of these features, it’s worth disabling them in the Avada -> Theme Options -> Advanced -> Theme Features section of your WordPress dashboard. For example, Pubvertiser does not use Google Maps at all, so I have disabled this feature in my Theme Options to make sure that the scripts for Google Maps aren’t being loaded. The same principle applies to other features, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Font Awesome and Mega Menu. If you’re not sure you need a particular feature, you can disable it and see if it has an adverse affect on your website. If so, it’s simple enough to enable the feature again.
6. Clean up your database
For a standard user, you may not think about how clean your database is. It’s not something that you see often, so it’s easy to forget about. However, keeping a clean database can have a positive effect on the overall efficiency of your website. Thankfully, there are many plugins out there to help you cleanup your existing database and keep it nice and tidy. Here are a few options for you:
Important Note: Always take a backup of your database before you use any of the plugins above. If something goes wrong and you lose your data, your web hosting provider should be able to restore your backup for you.
7. Optimize files for delivery
The more files that your site requires to render the page, the longer it takes for the browser to finish downloading them all. For this reason, being able to combine and minify your theme files is a great way to shave off some of that load time. Much like the database cleaners above, several plugins exist that will combine some of your theme files automatically. Here are a few options for you:
WP Rocket is a premium plugin, but you may find that it provides better results than the free plugins in the WordPress repository. It also provides caching options, as well as file compression and concatenation. As with any premium plugin, take some time to research what others have to say about it before parting with your hard-earned cash.
8. Upgrade your web hosting plan
Unless you know that your server is the cause of your speed issues, I would recommend trying all the suggestions above before looking at your hosting environment. If you have implemented all the suggestions above and are still experiencing issues with your speed, it’s time to speak to your web host.
This is a really broad topic and I would recommend pausing here and having a read of an article I wrote about choosing the right web hosting provider. When it comes to web hosting, you really do get what you pay for. A shared hosting provider offering a hosting plan for $3 a month is going to have a hard time matching the efficiency of a VPS that you might pay $45 a month for. However, it is possible to improve your hosting situation without forking out more money.
Your host may be running an old version of PHP, or perhaps they have accidentally oversold the space on the server and the traffic is becoming congested. For these reasons and many more, it’s worth getting in touch with your hosting provider and asking them to take a look at your speed issues. Don’t go to them empty-handed though, as they are likely to brush you off. Run your site through some page speed tools and include the reports in your ticket. In case you missed them, I included links to a few useful tools at the top of this article.
If your host can update their version of PHP, or move you to a less crowded server, you may see some positive changes to your website’s loading time.
It’s easier to keep your site nice and clean if you are conscious about it from the start. Having to go back through all of your pages and posts to make changes can be a pain, but it may be worth the time and effort. Google has mentioned that they take page speed into consideration when ranking websites in their search results. Spending some time optimizing your content and configuring your cache might make the difference between being on page one instead of page two.