Performance Anxiety: Finding Balance Between Speed and Functionality on Your WordPress Site

WordPress has brought greater access to well-designed site layouts to site-builders the world over. Where before you would need to learn comprehensive coding and debug every line of code you’d written until your website functioned normally, you can now run a series of selections through a WordPress templates and come out the other side with a beautiful, functioning website.

Unfortunately, much like with any website, WordPress sites can suffer from latency issues and problems with functionality. To add another layer of difficulty, it’s not always clear what causes them, or which to prioritize when it comes to fixing them. It’s not always as simple as choosing the best WP plugins when it comes to building your perfect website, and to explore this speed/functionality balance, we’ve written up seven points to consider when finding a balance between the two.


The first item we’ll address is the complexity of the website, and how that affects its speed AND functionality. A highly-complex site will need to load more items, and will therefore take longer to load, and navigating those items naturally slows down the progression to the information your readers are after. Keeping it simple decreases both the load time and the issues with navigation, so a more simply designed site is preferable when looking for a balance.


Sub-menus are the first divisive item on our list. A sub menu decreases ease of functionality while speeding up the load time of the page. Think of a header with 16 menu items across it, one for each selection, then think of a header with only four menu items, each of which drop down into four more options. It takes more time to find what you are looking for than it otherwise would to simply locate the item in the 16 and click it, but it also takes less time to load.

Website Design

The visual design of your website is directly linked to the functionality of your website, but not necessarily to the speed. An array of colours or art pieces might be good for a desktop background, but finding links and plugins in a mess of colours can be difficult at the best of times, and that’s not even taking into account your differently abled website users who might have a hard time distinguishing between colours. Simplicity is usually more functional that complexity, and that goes for visual design too. 


The content of your web page is also divisive inasmuch as what plugins you run, what links you include and what media you embed all affect how fast your page loads. Sure, you might have a five minute instructional video on whatever topic your site operates on, but that video has to load every time someone loads your page, which slows down the process. The same goes for including hundreds of pictures and long posts in a blog-style setting, your website will slow down considerably based on how much media content you include.


The layout of your website can affect the speed at which people navigate it, making it a functionality issue. A good website includes all relevant links together in one spot, while a confusingly-organised one will likely be all over the place. Grouping them together should not affect the loading speed of your website, but it will increase functionality. 


Usability is a factor that both webpage speed and functionality both affect. The more usable a website is, the easier it is to navigate and the quicker it is to load. Usability is the ultimate factor affected by the outcome of the decision this article aims to resolve, which is to balance your functionality and speed on your WordPress site. Making the link options clear and easy to understand increases usability, as does linking all of your sub pages back to the main page in one way or another.


The last point to make here is that speed of a website is often determined by the quality and type of server the website is being run on. An old, outdated server likely can’t handle the complexity of a modern website, even a relatively simple one, meaning your site needs to run on a high-powered server to be as fast as possible. Where possible, try to find and utilise the best quality, most up-to-date servers you can for your website, which will increase your speed and in-turn increase the functionality of your website.

Functionality and speed often go hand in hand, and finding the balance is the best way to get as much of both as you can. Take these points into account, and get out there and optimise your website to bring the most functionality and speed you possibly can to your website users.