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Optimizing Headway Website Load Times

Many factors come into play with load speeds of a Headway site. Most of them affect WordPress sites in general. These factors are explained here and recommendations provided. Follow these recommendations if you or your visitors are seeing long loading times when they would otherwise expect your site to be fast (such as if they’re on high-speed connections). You may want to try these ideas even if no one’s complaining—it doesn’t hurt for your site to be that much faster.

Headway Caching

It isn’t recommended that you turn off Headway’s caching. You may have done this in the past to avoid problems you were seeing in the Visual Editor (and if you encounter problems, please start a thread in the forum so we can help out). But it’s typically best to turn caching back on as soon as possible.

In case you don’t remember where this option is:

  1. In the WordPress admin panel, click Options in the Headway menu.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Clear the box labeled Disable Headway Caching.
  4. Click the Save Changes button.

Added Blocks

Blocks that you add to Headway by downloading from Headway Extend and activating a plugin are not part of Headway itself. They are much like any other plugin.

When people view your website, each plugin you have installed results in a set of requests to the server for files, which can include PHP, CSS, JavaScript, and images. The same is the case with blocks you have installed and activated.

Some plugins load faster than others. For example, some Headway members have found the Soliloquy or Slider PRO plugins to run faster than the SliderPlus block. You may want to experiment with different plugins that offer comparable functionality and see which one offers the fastest load times.

Caching Plugins

Some WordPress caching plugins are available, so you may want to use one if you have a lot of plugins. A caching plugin will set some CSS and JavaScript files into a cache, allowing repeat visitors to have a better experience on your site.

If you want to use a caching plugin or service, you shouldn’t activate it until you are done building your design in Headway. If it is already activate and you want to work in the Visual Editor, you need to flush/delete the cache for the plugin or service and then deactivate it. Failing to do this can cause the visual editor not to work properly, your site may load without CSS and/or your changes made in the visual editor may not show up.

If you keep the caching plugin/service active, you need to flush/delete the cache every time you want to work in the Visual Editor.

Hyper Cache, W3 Total Cache, and WP Super Cache are three such plugins. Before you use one or another, be sure to learn more about their features and limitations.

Note: If you install a caching plugin, you shouldn’t need to disable Headway caching.  In fact, doing so can cause things to load slower.  However, if you are experiencing an issue, you can try turning Headway caching off (disabling it) to see if it resolves your issue.  A common issue is that your site may load without CSS.  In that instance, we do recommend disabling Headway caching to see if it resolves your issue.

Lastly, a note about CloudFlare.  Some of our customers use it without issue but the same recommendations apply for CloudFlare regarding not having it active when working in the Visual Editor.  Additionally, using RocketLoader with CloudFare will definitely cause problems.

Query Variables

If you’re using a caching plugin or a content delivery network (CDN), having Headway stop WordPress from including query variables in URLs can help.

  1. In the WordPress admin panel, click Options in the Headway menu.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Check the box labeled Remove Query Variables from Dependency URLs.
  4. Click the Save Changes button.


Web hosts vary in the number of websites hosted per server, how PHP and MySQL are configured, and many other ways. The lower a hosting account costs, the more sites the hosting company would need to add to the same server to cover the cost of the server, meaning more load on each server. All of this can mean slower load times for you.

If you’ve tried everything else with little or no improvement to your load times, you may need to contact your web host about it and even do some shopping around for a web host that is proven to run WordPress sites efficiently.

This article was last updated for Headway version 3.8.3

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