Posts Tagged ‘load times’

Give WordPress a Speed Boost

Friday, January 8th, 2010

The other day I was looking at my sites performance score in Google’s Webmaster Tools. According to Google, my site was considered slow. This was very concerning as Google has made it known that in 2010 site performance will influence its rankings.

When I looked at my source code it became very clear what the problem was. I use WordPress to host this site and all of the plugins I was using were dragging down the performance. Each plugin had it’s own JavaScript file, it’s own CSS file, and several images. What makes WordPress so great can also be a detriment to you page load times.

Web Page Analyzing

I used the web page analyzer at www.websiteoptimization.com to find what areas of my pages could use optimization. The web page analyzer tool pointed out several JavaScript files that could be optimized along with CSS code that could be condensed.

WordPress Page Caching

Now that I knew where the problem was I had to find a way to fix it. There are several caching plugins for WordPress but the one that worked best for me was W3 Total Cache. This plugin allows you to perform several caching and page optimization techniques that will save you seconds on your page load times.

Page Caching
You can cache each page on your site to improve your response times.

Minify
Minify will shrink your web pages, JavaScript code, and CSS. It removes spaces and even comment tags to reduce the size of the files that are downloaded to support your site.

Database Caching
Caches database objects to improve your response time

Each of the features above have additional customizations which you should look at carefully. I found the minify settings to reduce my page load time significantly by putting most of JavaScript files into a single JavaScript file and the same for my CSS files. There are a lot of different features. I’d recommend trying several of them and then rerunning the web page analyzer to see which improve you site most.

Overall, I knocked several seconds off the load times shown in web page analyzer tool above. You’ll need to experiement a little to see which JS and CSS files can be combined in single files without breaking your web pages. I found that I could make great use of this feature but it didn’t seem to work with the Disqus plugin I’m using. This is unfortunate as Disqus is one of the biggest causes of slow page loads. If anyone is able to get W3 Total Cache and Disqus to work together, please let me know.