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Tips to Declutter Your WordPress Website for Better Performance

November 17, 2016

Each individual wants to be organized in his life with everything in control and in consistent manner. You always remove unnecessary items from your home to keep it clean. The same applies to your workplace, especially if you are running a WordPress website for your business. To make it clean, you must put efforts to remove everything which is of no use.

Being precise, users comes to you for availing some sort of product or service, and they really don’t care about everything else you have put. So, your website must possess a purpose and stick to it for each page. Putting irrelevant data with no reference to your niche is just a useless effort, which is only degrading your brand value.

Steps To Clean Up Your WordPress Installation

There are various tactics which you can employ in your WordPress site to make it user friendly and ultimately to maximize visitors engagement.

1. Remove Unnecessary Plugins

Although plugins are one of the most important elements in any WordPress site, keeping plugins that aren’t active or are poorly coded can cost you site speed which is not a smart move. Simply uninstall or deactivate plugins you aren’t using.

Moreover, consider replacing some of your current plugins with ones that service multiple purposes (Jetpack is a great example of a single plugin that offers many functions). Focus on your requirements and cut the list accordingly (don’t be a plugin hoarder).

2. Make Navigation Uncluttered

Mega Menu

Give a clean look to your navigation. Remove excessive categories and be sure to use appropriate parent and child categories for smooth search. Make sure you navigation features your most important pages, you can use tags and category widgets to offer your readers access to more content.

If your site requires many links then consider adding a mega menu. Mega mens offer visitors to your site large lists of information while allowing you to keep your main navigation simplified. Plugins such as Uber Menu, Mega Main Menu and Hero Menu all offer fantastic mega menu capabilities that work great with most WordPress themes.

3. Organize Site Content

If the content of your site is immense, organize it in a structured way by bundling in paragraphs. Also remember to use proper headings. Your posts and pages should have H1 titles, and then you should use H2, H3, etc nested within your post (our post uses an H2 for the “Steps to Clean Up Your WordPress Installation” heading, followed by H3 headings for each numerical point). This improves readability and user experience by keeping visitors away from unreadable wall of text.

Putting some emphasis on basic formatting can produce noticeable results. This includes using headers, lists, quotes, buttons, links and even different font styles to help make the flow of your content more intuitive.

4. Keep a Check on Relevancy

When using images, video or other media in a blog post of your WordPress site, it must relate to the subject. Moreover, you should not keep media that is irrelevant to your point. Periodically updating old content and it’s related media is also a good way to be sure you have no broken images or links.

5. Run Updates Regularly

Update WordPress

Make sure to keep your WordPress installation, themes and plugins up to date. If you haven’t updated in a while, do it. Using the current version of WordPress is must to ensure that you are getting the latest security patches for WordPress as well as compatibility with plugins and themes for your website.

Before updating we always recommend that you make a backup of your WordPress site. This is an important precaution incase one of your plugins breaks when you update so you have a way to revert your website to it’s former state. To make backups easier consider any of the best backup services and plugins for WordPress.

6. Monitor Your Site Speed

Pingdom Tools

If your site is taking too long to load, you have to find out the cause which might be obstructing its smooth run. Pingdom Tools is a great way to check your WordPress site speed.

Using a fast hosting service is a good option for better website speed, but some people are also employ shared hosting as it offers great value for money. But no matter what, always make sure to use a hosting plan that is adequate for your web traffic – with shared hosting you’re actively sharing your server’s resources with any number of other websites, and with managed hosting you’re often only given a set amount. Make sure to choose a plan that’s right for you.

You should also take a look at your theme and active plugins as well. Some WordPress add-ons (themes and plugins) are resource heavy (such as some of the big slider plugins) and poorly coded ones can definitely slow down your site. Test the live theme demos’ site speed before you download and install them, and research plugins before adding any new ones.

7. Freshen Up Your Admin Panel

WP Optimize WordPress Plugin

To work only on you front-end is not enough, that’s like only keeping your face clean while putting clumsy clothes on – it’s not a good sign. The back-end or admin area of WordPress website is just as important as its front view. There is so much hidden inner-workings which can be optimized.

  • Remove themes which are no longer in use. A default WordPress site comes with plenty of themes, but all of them are not required. Practically, you are not going to change your theme that frequently. So, dump your old theme and move ahead with less burden.
  • Delete pending and spammy comments. This gives a negative impression from SEO point of view. Use the Empty spam button to clean out these comments with just a single click, and it regularly for better results. You could also try the Antispam Bee plugin which is specially meant to preserve your legitimate comments while preventing spam.
  • Empty the trash bin frequently. Posts and pages of your WordPress website which you put in trash will take your space until they are deleted permanently. WordPress has the option to permanently delete the posts in your trash bin so use it.
  • Work on broken links. Links that don’t work give a very bad impression to visitors and search engines. The primary step is to find such links and then to fix them. Use plugins like W3C Link Checker to find broken links. Thereafter, either update them manually or perform 301 redirects ( you should also checkout our article on how to remove broken links as well as our guide for updating permalinks).
  • Clean your database. The database is an indispensable part, or rather heart of your WordPress website, as most of the necessary data is stored in it. So it requires to be keenly managed. This clean up can include deleting temporarily used disk space, post revisions, spam comments and other items present in trash, and also the leftovers from plugins and themes. The free WP-Optimize plugin is a very useful plugin that you can help you optimize your database in this way.
  • Disable elements with less need. This is also an easy way to trim the useless elements present in any WordPress visual. Click on the tab called screen options in the top right corner of your WordPress dashboard. From here you can enable or disable various features by merely checking or unchecking the relevant boxes.
  • Taxonomy must also be cleaned. If your website possesses unused taxonomy, get rid of it. When there are tags and categories which you are not using, remove them manually. Because taxonomies exist for each post type (which could include blog posts, portfolio, staff, testimonials, etc. depending on the theme and plugins you have active) you will need to go to each to check for unused items.
  • Unused media must be vanished. In WordPress, there is a separate folder, named uploads which includes all the media files that you have uploaded to your website. In long run, this can lead to a massive storage and thus needs to be trimmed. Plugins such as Image Cleanup can find and delete such media files. You can also use the Force Regenerate Thumbnails plugin which will remove all cropped images on the site that may be left over from old themes and re-crop the images as defined for your current theme which can clear up a lot of space if you have switched between many themes in the past.
  • Trim widgets you don’t use. This applies to your dashboard widgets as well as the widgets you see on the frontend of your website. For your dashboard widgets (seen on the main page when you first log into your WordPress installation) open the screen options tab at the top of the screen to enable and disable the avaialbe boxes. Widgets on the front end of your WordPress site in your sidebars and footers can be found under appearance > widgets. Simply drag and drop to replace or reorganize them.

It is not necessary that your WordPress website would be lacking all of the above points. But still, keep an eye out to check for any flaw, even small changes can produce fair results.

Your WordPress website can be transformed in few hours by cleaning it thoroughly. Decluttering can give it a more interactive view by removing all the irrelevant elements and arranging the rest in a better way. In simple words, you need to remove the unnecessary fat from your website. Just grab what is necessary and dump the remaining.

Keep a keen check on things that are not useful but still occupying your space, and moreover, giving your readers a haphazard user experience. And your dashboard admin panel is equally important as the external appearance of your website on the web. A thorough check is required for both front-end and back-end of your WordPress site periodically, and in the long run this will make your website better. The result will be a faster loading site along with the improved user experience.

Do you have any other tips for decluttering WordPress? Or have you tried ours? We’d love to hear your experience!

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  1. hzqhd

    nice. been searching this all day. thanks.

  2. Glenn_Tate

    “Plugins such as Image Cleanup can find and delete such media files.”

    Recommending plugins that haven’t been updated in 3 years shows a real lack of research and credibility.

    • AJ Clarke

      Have you ever heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Releasing an update just for the sake of it is useless. The way WordPress handles images has not changed over the last few years so the plugin should still work as advertised. Of course if you tested the plugin and have issues let us know so we can look into it 😉

  3. KB

    Image Cleanup hasn’t been updated in three years – no way is that getting installed. Any alternatives?

    • AJ Clarke

      Sometimes if a plugin hasn’t been updated in a long time it is a good thing…it means it’s so good it hasn’t needed any updates. That said, I have started using a plugin named Force Regenerate Thumbnails and this one deletes any cropped images on the site that aren’t needed by the current theme you are using and this one has been updated more recently if that is a concern to you.

  4. Matthew Cain

    Another performance tip is to optimize images, they take toooo much time to load compared to the other web page components. If you monitor your loading speed in pingdom you see what i’m talking about 🙂

    • AJ Clarke

      Yes, this definitely helps in terms of the front-end site speed! However, this post is mostly focuses on cleaning up the database and backend-admin.

  5. Anthony

    Thanks for the image cleanup suggestion, that plugin is a God send.

  6. Markie

    What a great article! Now It’s easy for me to see the performance of my wordpress site. Jetpack is one of the great tools I have.

  7. Bruce Austin

    Finally got what I was looking for.

    • Kyla

      I’m glad we could help – I hope your WordPress site is squeaky clean 🙂

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