There is one misconception that is quite common among new website developers and administrators: it is that all they need to do to attract visitors is to make a website look as elegant as possible. Unfortunately for them, that is not always the case.
When you create or handle your very own website, you have to consider not only your website’s appearance but also your website’s health, regardless of its purposes. What does this mean? It means that you should not only focus on designing it to look great, but you must also work on optimizing it on the back-end side. After all, what is the use of a good-looking website if you cannot even make it load?
Why bother cleaning up?
Cleaning up a website is similar to cleaning up your house. So if you think about it, the answer to why we need to clean either is pretty similar as well. When it comes to homes, we have to remove all unnecessary clutter that will otherwise negatively affect our lifestyle. The same concept is true in optimizing a website In a website’s case—cleaning up a website ensures no issue will negatively affect your visitors, as these can turn them away.
There are two major reasons why you should do a website cleanup in the first place:
1. To optimize page speed performance.
As established earlier, what is the use of a good-looking website if you cannot even make it load? You may have previously encountered links to websites you initially thought you would be interested in, only to be led to an unresponsive site, or worse, a crashing browser. You don’t stick around to figure out why it’s down either. You’ve most likely navigated away and started searching for better websites in the first few seconds things started taking too long to load.
Most of these are actually products of a poorly optimized site. Cleaning up websites throws that issue out of the window, ensuring your website will be accessible at all times, in a speedy and efficient manner.
2. To simplify migration processes.
Updating your website means adding more stuff for a computer to load when someone visits. It also means additional features in development to test in a staging site before it goes live to the public. With a cleaned up website, you save time and resources not only for the site visitor but for yourself as well. Less clutter, whether they’re plugins or pages, makes you more efficient in handling your website. It also optimizes the transfer rate when it’s time to upgrade your hardware.
Some Precautionary Measures Before You Even Begin
You may try cleaning up your website right off the bat. But before you even dare to proceed in doing so, you have to consider the following precautions first:
1. Always, ALWAYS, keep a file backup whenever you attempt to do something.
This is the golden rule when making any changes not only on your website, but also any file you have on your computer. Save yourself from trouble (as well as frustrations) and make sure to have a working backup of anything. If anything goes wrong, having a backup you can revert to will ensure that your website will still be up and running.
To make things easier, one plugin you might want to try is the All in One Migration Plugin. Even if you don’t have any technical knowledge, you’ll be able to back up or upload your site with just a few clicks.
2. There is no universal, guaranteed way on optimizing a website perfectly.
Whatever is stated in this blog post are just considerations and guidelines to cleaning up your website. Some may or may not be applicable in your case. Take note that each website has different lines of code behind them. While some may work in similar ways, each website is unique in terms of how they are created.
The Road to Cleaning Up Your Website
To start cleaning up your website so it can be in its best shape, you must first know your website. This involves looking for the possible issues that site visitors encounter on a day to day basis.
One thing you can do is to check which of your website files are hogging the most storage space. You can identify which files are taking up most of the bulk by checking your website’s CPanel page. It will show you the sizes of the files involved with running your website, then you can work from there.
If there is something on the website that is not being used, but is taking up a huge chunk of the storage, take that file out. That large file sitting there is just a liability on your website’s operations and should not be there.
While checking your website for any issues, you may even deal with images uploaded to the site’s directory. You can do the following to resolve those image-related problems:
Too many files
If you are seeing too many files and you think that not all of them are being utilized on the website, you have the option to run the Media Cleaner Plugin. It will try to match your physical image directories to the one you have online, and will delete anything that is not in there. Beware though: while it helps you deal with images themselves, it does not deal with unused image sizes.
Unused image sizes
If you are having trouble with unused image sizes, WordPress may be creating more image sizes than what you actually need. In situations like this, you must identify the file sizes that your WordPress theme does use, and the possible cause of the excessive images. Once you address the main issue, you can then remove all the unnecessary image sizes on your site. You may want to run the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin to help you in removing those unneeded sizes off your site.
If image compression is your website’s issue, you may want to consider installing the EWWW Image Optimizer. Not only it will compress your uncompressed images, but you will also have the option to convert it to the best file format applicable. When images are compressed, they will load a lot faster on your site.
If you are dealing with unused thumbnails stored on your website, you can delete them manually or by using a plugin. The image cleanup plugins above may help you on deleting thumbnails along the way, or you can use an entirely different plugin.
Some website issues can be also fixed by simply changing your WordPress theme’s settings. Thorough checking and modifying some of the settings to your preference will provide a significant impact in optimizing your theme, and in extension, your website.
Optimizing Your Database
In optimizing your website, you don’t just check what your visitors will see (or not see). You also need to optimize the mechanism that runs behind it – your website database. There are numerous database optimizer plugins that are floating out there on the Internet, but here are a few that are known to perform excellently in optimizing your database:
Known for its user- and newbie-friendly interface, WPOptimize is a plugin that is notably popular among WordPress developers. You can optimize your database tables and make periodic cleanups with this tool. In addition, it can also do other database-related set-ups such as removing negligible post revisions, showing database statistics, and many more.
An alternative to the WPOptimize plugin, WP-DBManager is another plugin that will enable you to repair, optimize, restore and periodically cleanup your database.
3. Plugins Garbage Collector
This plugin is also noteworthy, as it is known for its ability to remove any tables that are leftovers from previously uninstalled plugins. With this plugin, you can efficiently remove any leftover tables without risking the possibility of deleting anything that is actually an essential part of your website’s operations.
As a Final Note
Optimizing your website will help you keep your website in tip-top shape. While there are many options to do so, you also need to consider the pros and cons of each one.
Manually optimizing your website will give you the assurance of knowing which files are being modified or removed, but also poses risks of not being able to delete all unneeded files, or deleting important files instead.
On the other hand, plugins may speed up the process for you, but it may also delete important files without your knowledge. Some plugins can also do things that are against your preference, while too many plugins installed may backfire and slow down your site’s loading time.
Regardless of the method of optimization used, it is your responsibility as the developer and administrator of the website to make sure that it is up and running whenever it goes online. Remember: if your website cannot go online, it might as well not exist.