Whether you’ve had a WordPress site for years or are just getting started, I wanted to share some of the most important optimizations you can make for your physician WordPress site.
Optimize for Security
This is a basic, must-have foundation but sadly, this often goes overlooked.
First, you need a strategy and system protecting your sites against hacking attempts. Believe me, these types of attempts happen almost daily to most sites. Bots regularly are scanning sites searching for vulnerabilities.
You can also use a plugin such as iThemes Security
In addition to that, you’ll also want to make sure that your website is backed up regularly. You don’t want to have to start over from scratch if something goes wrong.
Again, if you use WP Engine, they provide automatic daily backups of your site. They also make it very easy to restore a backup if something does go wrong with a 1-click option.
There are other services such as BackupBuddy that also work well.
Keep Core Files and Plugins Updated
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your core WordPress installation stays up to date, as well as your plugins. One of the most significant vulnerabilities of a WordPress site is outdated core files and plugins.
You can always check and update these in your WordPress back-end by going to Dashboard > Updates.
Optimize for Speed
The loading speed of a website is actually an SEO ranking factor for Google. If a site takes longer than 3-4 seconds to load, you’re in trouble.
Pay Attention to Images
Large images are one of the biggest causes of slow loading speeds.
Fortunately, you can use programs like Photoshop to minimize the size of an image.
Or for my fellow Mac users, it’s super easy to do this just through Preview by going to Tools > Adjust Size
I recommend setting the width to 2000 pixels (the height will adjust automatically). As you can see in the example below, it took the original image size of 8.4 MB down to just 408 KB.
If you don’t want to go through the process of manually adjusting the image size, then plugins like Imagify can be a good option.
Your Hosting Provider Matters
Perhaps the most important impact on load speed is actually from your hosting server. Big-name hosting services like Bluehost, 1and1, GoDaddy, and others typically utilize shared hosting to keep their costs low. In other words, your website is on the same server as many others, and there’s limited bandwidth to be shared.
Most doctors do not need crazy expensive dedicated hosting, but they do require more than what traditional shared hosting has to offer.
This is another reason why WP Engine is my recommended hosting provider. Their dedicated hosting provides excellent speeds and Enterprise-Level performance, without a hefty price tag.
When I moved my site to them, I couldn’t believe the speed difference!
Optimize Your Design
As a doctor, your time is incredibly valuable, and you don’t want to waste time and energy on design, only to have the website not perform as you had hoped. This is why I saved design for last on this list.
You’ll want to start out with a secure, fast, patient-friendly, and conversational website prior to considering any design changes.
This allows you to analyze the data on what is and isn’t working and make data-driven design adjustments from there.