How to reduce the Time to First Byte (TTFB) server response time

Frequently Asked Questions Aplicații | wordpress | ttfb | optimization
This article explains what TTFB is and how it can be reduced
by Mark DohiViews 454Published 27/12/2023

The Time to First Byte, or the time it takes to process a site's code, is one of the most common issues for WordPress websites and can lead to various problems, such as visitors leaving the site before its content loads. This is caused by poor site optimization, heavy code in the theme used, or conflicts between plugins. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the initial server response time and improve overall site performance. Here's what you need to know about reducing Time to First Byte (TTFB) for better performance and optimized WordPress page speed.

What is TTFB?

TTFB, or Time to First Byte, is the elapsed time between your browser sending a request and receiving a response from the server. TTFB is different from page speed and is not part of your site's Core Web Vitals score. However, it still plays a crucial role in site speed and overall page performance.

A slow TTFB can decrease visitor interaction and time spent on your site. Therefore, optimizing TTFB is essential to reduce loading times and enhance site responsiveness.

The following factors are common causes of high TTFB:

  • An unoptimized or completely absent caching plugin.
  • Slow database queries caused by poorly optimized plugins or themes.
  • Network speed and latency from the internet service provider.
  • High web traffic on the site.
  • Inadequate hosting package resources.
  • Too many plugins running background scripts.
  • Insufficient storage space for caching and uploaded files.
  • Too many HTTP requests generated by the site.

How is TTFB measured?

Google Chrome's developer tools provide useful information about how long each page takes to load and allow for speed testing. You can access this free online tool by navigating to the "View" menu and selecting "Developer" or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I on Windows or Cmd+Opt+I on Mac. This will open a window with multiple tabs giving you access to various data about your site, including network requests, CSS, and JavaScript files loaded on each page, and memory usage.

To see how long a specific page takes to load, click on its title in this list and then select "Timeline." This will give you an overview of all resources used during the load, indicating potential bottlenecks as they take longer than expected.

How can you reduce TTFB?

One way to reduce Time to First Byte (TTFB) is by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare. A CDN is a network of servers that caches static web content, such as images or CSS files, on your site. When a user requests one of these files, the CDN serves it from the location nearest to the user, rather than your server. This reduces loading time as less data is transferred between the server and the visitor.

This is especially important if you have many simultaneous visitors viewing the same image or CSS file repeatedly. The faster these files are served from the local cache, the better the overall experience for all visitors.

Adding caching.

If you cache pages, you can reduce your site's response time by creating ready-processed temporary data files that can be reused. Cache is useful for static content, such as images and HTML pages, but can also be used to speed up dynamic content. There are many types of caching plugins available to help improve your site's response, such as:

These are just a few examples, but there are many other plugins available that can help optimize TTFB through caching.

The latest PHP version (PHP 8+) is faster than its predecessor in many ways. It uses a new compilation technology called Zend OPcache, making it much faster at compiling code into processor instructions (OPcode). It also has internal memory management for storing variables in RAM, rather than on disk. This can provide significant speed improvements for certain types of applications, such as WordPress, where large amounts of data are constantly extracted from MySQL databases into server memory before processing or serving requests from a browser request.

Optimizing images and videos.

Every time your WordPress site loads, it can take a long time to load all the images and videos on the page. One of the quickest ways to improve your site's performance is by optimizing images and videos so they don't take as long to load in the user's browser.

A popular tool for optimizing image files is the ImageOptim plugin. It compresses any uploaded PNGs, JPGs, and GIFs in your WordPress media library.

Another thing you can do is use a dynamic image replacement plugin, such as Shortpixel. Instead of having large images open in the window when someone visits the page for the first time (which will cause additional delay), they will load dynamically as the visitor interacts with them.

Minimizing CSS and JavaScript files.

Minimizing and combining CSS and JavaScript files is an easy way to increase a site's speed. For example, when using a WordPress theme, you can use a minimization plugin such as WP Minify or Autoptimize to compress files that will be generated automatically.

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