WordPress Speed Optimizations

December 8, 2012 WordPress

WordPress is a great piece of software.  It offers many customizable features and overall is pretty easy to use and develop for.  However, being that WordPress does not adopt strict MVC or OOP principles it suffers from loosely written code and poor organization.  But, that’s cool.  Just like anything else, it has it strengths and weaknesses.  In this article we’re going to take a high-level look at WordPress speed optimizations and see how we can overcome one of its weaknesses.

WordPress Speed Optimization Basics

Being that search engines take a website’s loading speed into consideration, this is critical in obtaining top ranking and keeping your users engaged.  There are a ton of WordPress speed optimizations out there but here are our top 5.

1. Get a Good Server / Hosting Plan

There are so many options out there that is hard to tell what is good and what is not.  Cyberpunk Interactive sells WordPress tuned websites and hosting in addition to partnering with companies like WP Engine to offer an array of high end hosting options

Most inexpensive hosts are giving you cheap hosting – Don’t be fooled by clever marketing incentives such as 1TB bandwith per month, 500GB storage, unlimited domains, and 3,000 email addresses.  Most blogs won’t use 1TB of bandwidth in a YEAR let alone a month.  And why is it that 500GB of storage per month is offered for web hosting at $3.95 per month but having 400GB of cloud based storage with Google costs $19.99.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Who needs unlimited domains, and who uses 3,000 email address aside from enterprise level companies?  Its all smoke in mirrors.

What’s important are things like a properly configured php.ini file, an available APC or Memcache cache, and a high availble mysql key buffer.  Being that these are all highly technical terms, most hosting companies will never try to sell you that and capitalize on the marketing lingo.  Having a hosting plan that is tuned for performance is what is key.

2. Use a Caching Plugin

W3 Total Cache - WordPress Speed Optimizations

This is super important.  While there are many caching plugins available, the most complete one available is W3 Total Cache.   Its relatively easy to use and setup and offers browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.  Additionally, properly setting up a caching plugin offers more than just speed enhancements; it will also increase your website’s security as your database is exposed less, save on bandwidth costs and will increase your search engine rankings. W3 Total Cache even boasts at least a 10x performance increase when fully configured.  A win-win for everyone!

3. Use a CDN

JSDelivr - WordPress Speed Optimizations

CDNs are sprouting up everywhere these days and allows web developer to take advantage of free or low-cost speed tweaks.  CloudFlare offers a free basic CDN and is easy to setup and use.  Max CDN is one of the most popular right now and a WordPress favorite.  When using a full fledged CDN isn’t possible, a favorite of mine is to use JSDelivr.  JSDelivr even offers a WordPress plugin that automatically scans your site for commonly used scripts and then will rewrite your code to use their scripts instead of your own.  Don’t see your script on JSDelivr?  Not a problem.  JSDelivr will host yours completely free.

4. Optimize Which Plugins Load

WordPress has an amazing library of plugins both free and premium.  However, because of its loosely engineered structure, there are a lot of poorly coded plugins.  There are even very popular plugins that fall by the way-side in terms of good coding standards and best practices.  But that’s okay.  The truth is, that you don’t need MOST plugins (especially complicated front end plugins) to load on every page.

That’s where Plugin Organizer comes in.  Use it to selectively load plugins based on a variety of options.  It even works with WordPress multi-site!

5. Move JavaScript to the Footer

Simply put, it will make your pages load faster.  When a page is rendering, it pauses the HTML part of it to load a JavaScript file.  Tell WordPress to cut it out by using JavaScript to Footer.  If your plugin has properly declared the script in its coding, it will move the scripts to the footer while maintaining the load order.  However, since there are no standard plugin design patterns, this MIGHT not completely work in every scenario.  Experimentation is needed.

Conclusion

Now get to work! Make your website faster with these WordPress speed optimizations.  Feeling overwhelmed to do this yourself?  Get a hold of us for a free one hour consultation!

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