Every developer has their own list of tips and tricks that they use to make a site work fast, and they all tend to disagree with each other on certain elements (especially plugins) but these are the steps I normally take beginning with the most important first.
Note – I want you to remember that your site is MUCH faster for someone NOT logged in. It is slower when you are logged in as the admin because the builder is loading.
- You must make sure your server and site are set to the latest version of PHP. As of writing this, it is version 7.4.
So, how do you do this?
You should have Cpanel access to your server (wherever your hosting account is) but not always. Hopefully, you do. If you don’t have Cpanel access, you will have to contact your hosting provider to complete the next few steps. Log into your Cpanel and scroll down till you see the SOFTWARE heading and click the icon for MultiPHP Manager. You may have something that says “Select PHP Version” instead. Select your domain, and make sure it is set to the highest version of PHP your server has. It should at least be 7.2. If you do not have 7.2 or higher available, contact your hosting provider and ask them to install it.
- Once your PHP is set to 7.2 or higher, edit the directives.
In your Cpanel, again under the software heading, look for a module to edit your PHP ini settings. Different hosting providers and different Cpanel’s offer different modules and names. The place to edit these directives may be in the same module where you set the PHP version.
It would look something like this:
The default settings will be pretty low. Divi has its set of PHP Directives that you need to use, but there are two that I use a higher setting for. Divi’s recommended settings are:
post_max_size = 64M
max_execution_time = 120
upload_max_filesize = 64M
max_input_time = 60
max_input_vars = 1000
However, I increase two of these:
max_execution_time = 1000
The other directive you want to edit is zlib.output_compression – make sure this is set to ENABLED. This isn’t for Divi, but will help increase speed when we enable Gzip. Gzip will NOT work unless zlib.output_compression is set to enabled which many people do not seem to realize.
Save your PHP ini settings.
- Test Your PHP
You can easily test your PHP settings without having to create a phpinfo.php file. Navigate to the backend of your Divi website dashboard, and navigate to Divi > Support Center. You should see this:
If you see suggested numbers instead, your setting changes did not take place on this URL. Contact your hosting provider to see how you can change the settings to the correct ones.
- The Plugins I Use
All free. I’ve tried countless plugins in different configurations. But these are the ones that work for me time and time again.
WP Fastest Cache
Download WP Fastest Cache and install/activate it through your plugins manager. This what your settings should look like in this plugin’s settings:
** Remember, for Gzip to work (which is essential for making sites much faster), that PHP setting for compression described above MUST be enabled.
Save these settings. You don’t have to bother with the other tabs.
Download, install, and activate Jetpack through your plugin manager. It will ask to be connected to a Google or other account and then will take you to a WP page. Scroll all the way down and select the free version, it’s all you need. And then you will be redirected back to your site.
Navigate to Jetpack > Settings > Performance, and enable these options:
It will save automatically.
Download, install, and activate this plugin through the plugin manager. In the settings, start the “Bulk Smash”. With the free version, it only allows you to smash 50 at a time. This program is optimizing your images. Take the time to keep smashing until all images are optimized. If you have thousands upon thousands of images, it would behoove you to buy the pro version so that you don’t have to keep smashing.
Download, install, and activate this plugin through the plugin manager. We’re going to come back to this.
- Delete the caches
In the backend of the Divi site, at the very top, lick “Clear Cache”. Then navigate to Divi > Theme Options > Builder > Advanced and clear the static CSS file. Then click save changes.
- Test on GTMetrix
Navigate in another tab to GTMetrix and enter your main URL and then click “Test Your Site”. It takes a moment.
Save these settings. Now, delete the caches as described above, and test again in GT Metrix. You should find a much higher score. Some scripts change names once you delete a cache, ignore these.
You may find items under optimize images which can take a huge hit on your score. Even though they’ve been optimized through smush, sometimes GT metrix just wants more. But there is good news! Under each image listed in GTMetrix, there is a URL you can click to see the optimized version! Download these versions and replace them. Clear the caches, and check the URL again.
By now, you should have a great score. And your site should be fast. Let’s make all pages fast now.
- Cache all pages
Open your URL in an incognito window. Navigate and open all pages and posts. By doing this, you are caching all pages and images through Jetpack.
Close the window, then open another incognito window again, and navigate to your URL. You should see that all pages open super, uber fast. WOO!