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You’ve probably learned by now that simplicity is a cornerstone characteristic in my business. One of my primary beliefs is that we often get overwhelmed when things become too complicated. I love white space. I love clean, beautiful design.
Today I want to talk about the side of your website that isn’t client facing — the backend. A clean website is like a clean house — it feels great walking into and makes it easier to find things (aka more efficient). Outside of aesthetics, cleaning up unnecessary elements on your website removes possible security risks and can improve website performance. When I launch a new website, I always go through everything on the backend and clean up. This is helpful for whoever is going to provide your website care.
I just finished an author website refresh. When I first logged in I found more than 20 plugins that were not being used. Some were activated and some weren’t, but all of them served no purpose. This can create a security risk and becomes time-consuming for you to manage because active or not, they still need to be updated. There isn’t a good reason to keep plugins that aren’t being used. Once I removed all of the unnecessary plugins, not only was the backend easier to maneuver through, but his website performed significantly better.
What should you consider cleaning up to improve website performance?
Remove old themes. I usually delete most unused themes, however, I recommend keeping one or two themes outside of the active theme in case you need to trouble shoot the active theme.
Remove inactive or unused plugins. When I’m building a website, I may test several plugins but if I’ve decided not to use it, I remove it. For security and performance reasons, remove plugins that you’ve deactivated or those that are may be active but not used on the website. In the case of the client website I mentioned, there were several plugins that were installed and activated, but didn’t have license information installed and were simply using resources.
Review and remove old pages. If you’ve done a website refresh in the past or your business and services have evolved, you may have several old pages that you’re holding on to for the content. Copy that content into a Google Doc and consider deleting those old pages. Of course, make sure that during the refresh those pages are redirected appropriately first.
Old images that aren’t being used. Man, I can test images during a website project. And I’ll be the first to admit that I can get a little messy during the design phase and might change my mind a few times when it comes to the images that I’m considering. If you’re customizing any pre-built sections, Elementor, and most themes, will load the images from that sample section. Why have all of those unused images clogging up your media files?
Consider removing old code. I build most websites using GenerateBlocks or Elementor. In the past I’ve used Divi. In almost all cases, I’ve had to use some CSS to get specific functionality. What I’ve noticed in some of the sites that I refresh is that there is a lot of old code that may not be needed. Sometimes it’s obvious what can be removed but sometimes it’s not. I do not recommend doing this if you are even the least bit unsure.
Delete spam and trashed comments. While it might not affect functionality, it drives me crazy having pages of spam comments. Now, there are a lot of ways to prevent spam comments, and in some cases allowing comments doesn’t really benefit you as the content creator. You’ll notice here on my website I have comments turned off. While that’s a decision my clients and I make in our strategy calls, if you choose to have comments enabled, and like me clutter wreaks havoc on your mind, go through and delete those spam and trashed comments.
Delete form submissions/spam submissions. Again, some page builders and form plugins store form submissions and as long as the form is submitting to your email correctly, you can remove these old submissions.
Optimize your WordPress database. When you’ve cleaned up the dashboard, you can optimize the database getting rid of any residual data from old plugins. If you need an easy way to do this, I recommend the Perfmatters plugin. It’s lightweight and super-easy to use.
Before making any changes to your website, I always recommend making a backup. If you’re not sure the best way to handle that, or you just don’t have time to go through and optimize your website, let’s have a quick 20-minute consultation to see if it makes sense for you to get help.