Building a website? There are plenty of online resources and guides that can teach you how to build a website. However, only a few of them ever discusses the importance of speed as well as the optimizations necessary to achieve it.
In today’s digital world, speed and great user experience are the keys to online success. Whether you are running a blog or an e-commerce store, online users are not willing to wait around for a sluggish website. In fact, you only have up to three seconds to get their attention before they abandon your site.
If you are running on WordPress, speed is also a constant issue, especially with your reliance on plugins that can slow your site down. However, there are also plugins that can do the opposite and supercharge your site’s loading speed.
“[Plugins] can help you get up to speed on your SEO for your site, add a photo gallery, forum and just about everything else,” says Jamie Spencer in this post.
Without further ado, below is a list of WordPress plugins to help optimize your site speed.
1. BJ Lazy Load
“Lazy loading” is the process wherein a browser loads the content above the fold first. This is the area on top of the page that’s instantly visible to the user when it loads. The rest of the page, on the other hand, will only be loaded once the user scrolls down.
This can significantly cut the time it takes to load an entire page, especially in long-form posts that include plenty of content. You can achieve this effect using a simple plugin such as BJ Lazy Load. It works by replacing all your post assets such as images, thumbnails, Gravatar photos and content iFrames with a placeholder that responds to where the user is.
The larger the file, the longer it takes for the browser to load it. Large, high-resolution images, in particular, can slow your site down to a crawl. This can be problematic if you load them all up in a single page or use them in a content slider.
To avoid this problem, you need to make sure you upload images with just the right size for proper viewing. That is, large enough for good picture quality and small enough to be loaded fast. You can do this manually, or you can use a plugin like Imsanity to automatically scale images down upon uploading. This is a big help for blog managers who handle submissions from other contributors.
3. Gzip Ninja Speed Compression
This is why webmasters use code minifying plugins such as Gzip Ninja Speed Compression. It works by automatically eliminating whitespace from codes without the need for manual intervention. The difference may be negligible for small websites, but for big websites that utilize much code, the speed gains can be substantial.
4. WP Speed of Light
Crucial to a website’s performance is its page loading time. WP Speed of Light comes with a very large suite of options that allow you to speed up your WordPress website: content cache, image lazy loading and compression, WordPress core option tweaking, database automatic cleanup, CDN integration, cache pre-loading and more.
The first step in solving any performance problem is identifying it. However, when working with a WordPress website, with tens of scripts that you didn’t write, or include, running simultaneously atop your website’s content, finding the root of your performance problems is easier said than done. And that is where the new WP Speed of Light plugin comes in with a speed test feature for web pages and database.
5. W3 Total Cache
Another effective way to increase speed is to implement site-wide caching. Remember that caching is different from compression such as scaling down images and minifying code. Caching means utilizing space in a CDN, disk, or memory to store data and make them readily available for future access.
To further increase your site speed and performance, you can use W3 Total Cache alongside a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as MaxCDN. Read this guide to learn how to set both tools for your WordPress site.
Over time, your blog will begin to amass “trash” such as post revisions, good drafts, and spam comments. There could be thousands of trash hidden in your database, which essentially wastes space and can slow things down. For this, you need a comprehensive database clean-up tool such as WP-Optimize.
Some of its main features include the removal of trash, old post revisions, spam comments, as well as trackbacks and pingbacks. It also does a clean-up of transient options, integrated options, and some other things lurking in your database. Moreover, just like every other tool on this list, you can do all these things easily with the simplified interface.
Running and managing a WordPress website requires you to take on a long list of responsibilities. Ensuring optimal speeds to your users is just one of them. Thankfully, you can always leverage tools and WP plugins to make things easier.
While there are practical tips to speed up your WordPress site, plugins can nonetheless help you push your site performance to the limit so you can focus on other areas of your site that demand attention – from your content to promotion strategies.