WordPress Optimisation

WordPress Optimisation

There are some very simple steps you can perform to optimise your WordPress site and you don’t need to know a single line of code or how to administer a web server. WordPress Optimisation is very simple with the right Plugins.

The two biggest aspects of WordPress (and that goes for most CMS based platforms) that slow it down are database access and page size.  To help with database access you can install a cache and for page size you use a combination of code minimisation and image optimisation.

 

Why Cache?

By using a caching module you can reduce the amount of database queries. How it does this is by producing a static or fixed copy of each page. This is only updated when changes to your site occur. In effect if your site is largely static, which most websites are you will dramatically reduce the amount of database access by installing a caching module. Even if your site is dynamic you can likely still get improved performance, as not everything will be changing.

The end result of a properly cached site is that page load time will be reduced sometimes by several seconds, and when it comes down to it every second counts when websites are concerned.

 

Examples of cache plugins are:

WP Super Cache – Simple tool that we’ve had no issues with.

W3 Total Cache – A complete optimisation tool that includes minimisation, CDN and other features. Can have issues with some sites. If you can get this tool to work you won’t have to have multiple Plugins to do caching and minifying. Good tool when it works.

 

Code minimisation?

This is where things get a bit more complicated as depending upon your theme you may have to try several different plugins. Well at least in our experience that has been the case. We’ve discovered plugins that work on one theme and then break parts of other themes. Anyone using a Bootstrap based theme has probably seen this issue. The best advise would be get use a Plugin that allows you to exclude certain files.

What a minimisation plugin does is removes all the formatting that makes code human readable. This can allow your browser to read the code far faster than with normally formatted code. Minimisation can be performing on your CSS (Stylesheets), JS (Javascript/JQuery) & HTML. You can easily see if this has been done correctly by viewing the site code within your browser.  If it has been minimised it will be one big mess of code.

An alternative for CSS and JS files is to manually do this via an online minimise site like Dan’s Tools, which has a wide range of tools that can minimise all sorts of things, including reversing the process. Yeah I know I said you wouldn’t have to know a line of code however this is a simple case of copy and paste. This however can be problematic if you update your theme from within WordPress, as these updates will be overwritten unless you create a child theme and do the changes on that.

 

Examples of minimisation plugins/tools are:

W3 Total Cache – A complete optimisation tool that includes minimisation, CDN and other features. Can have issues with some sites. If you can get this tool to work you won’t have to have multiple Plugins to do caching and minifying. Good tool when it works.

WP Super Minify – Very simple to use.  Just turn it on.

Merge + Minify + Refresh – Simple to use. Allows you to exclude files. Useful if minifying breaks your site.

 

Optimise your images?

Pretty straight forward.  Just reduce the size of your images. Tools to use include Photoshop and the Gimp.  Many other simpler tools exist which can be found via Google.

 

Testing your WordPress Optimisation

The trick with any optimisation is testing the results. There are many online tools and downloadable tools that can be used to test the results of the WordPress Optimisation.  These include:

Pingdom Page Speed Test – Pretty well know tool.  Provides a waterfall breakdown of your site.

Google PageSpeed Insites – Very simple to read results, not much in depth output though.  Also tests the mobile usability of your site.

Screaming Flog SEO Spider Tool – Downloadable tool that is very useful for testing development sites.  Provides a wealth of information. Runs on Windows, Mac & Ubuntu Linux.

 

Conclusion

WordPress Optimisation is very straightforward and requires little time and effort for a major improvement in performance. It can also reduce the load on the web server so it can enable you to run it successfully on entry level shared hosting packages.

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