The Only Post You Need For WordPress Speed.

Google has indicated in the past few years that they take site speed seriously and for good reason; even a slightly slower site speed can affect your visits by about 20% – this could be much worse for a very slow website.

I’ve made this post as a reminder for myself as much as for anyone else.  Having used a multitude of different plugins as well as manual hacks over the years, it’s good to summarise the best that’s out there to save you hours of testing on your own, and saves me having to dig through old sites to remember which plugin that one was.

These tips should help you get your site running quicker in next to no time.

The Plugins

  1. W3 Total CacheThis one is the behemoth that can really mess things up if you don’t tread carefully, but is undoubtedly the best all-in-one WordPress plugin for speed.

    It includes a number of the most important things needed such as caching, Minify, CDN-support and trumps other plugins like WP Super Cache for out-of-the-box optimisation.  It’s also pretty easy to use.

    Make sure you backup your theme files and database before playing with this though!

  2. Use Google LibrariesGoogle offers scripts like jQuery via their own CDN network which will remove burden from your own site.  Their servers are also lightning quick.  Use them.
  3. RVG-Optimize-DatabaseThis one removes all the redundant revisions of old posts that are stored by the WordPress engine.  These take up valuable space in your database, so it’s worth running this every once in a while.The plugin is multi-faceted and also helps to clean-up the database for you; over time you’ll find that your database swells in size for no apparent reason and this will carry out tasks like optimising the tables to help reduce the overall database size and in turn, speed up your site.Carrying this stuff out manually can be a pain, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing so this is definitely worth the download.

Manual Changes

We all love a plugin or two, but you’ll really reap the benefits if you choose to do some of the manual work that will really help to boost the speed of your site.

  1. Delete unused themes and pluginsThese all add to overhead of the WordPress system, so keep a clean house and clear out anything that you don’t need or use – you can always get them back later if you really need; just bookmark the links or jot them down somewhere. (Maybe even blog about them?)
  2. Use image spritesThis is a slightly more advanced technique that combines all the common images across your site into a large single file, which is then referenced by your code.  This reduces the number of requests to the server and in turn, reduces site load time.
  3. Reduce server requests generallyEvery off-page element such as images and videos, scripts, fonts and CSS files all need to be fetched and create requests between servers.  Obviously, the more requests there are, the more resources are required of the web server.  Clean up and speed up.
  4. Content Delivery NetworkI’ve left this one last as it is possibly the most complex and sometimes, most costly option to improve speed – but it can also easily be the most effective.  Using a service such as Amazon Cloudfront not only offloads the burden of many requests to fast third-party servers, but it will also optimise the service by identifying where the user is located and fetching the data from a server that is more local to them; they have servers all over the world so this can significantly improve load times.W3 Total Cache can also handle CDNs in quite a neat fashion, so it’s probably worth using it to manage yours.

I’ve tried to keep this as concise as possible to reduce the onset of boredom for those with ADHD – hopefully it’s of some use.