WordPress performance & improvements (2)

I started writing all in one post but quickly realized I’d be testing peoples patience. So therefore I had to split them. Regardless, if  they can help you in making choices, improvements and smoke some gremlins lurking on your own site, then I consider my rant a success.

Profile the plugins – find the bottlenecks

P3 Pie chart You have run performance tests as discussed on page (1), and gotten some results. The next thing to do is to find the gremlins, well some of them at least.

Install and run the P3 profiler plugin. Yes there are others too, go and research if you please. I found this plugin to deliver all I needed. It will give you a comprehensive status of your website’s plugins. And reveal details that you might find a bit challenging.

However, among the many panes and views there are several that will help you understand what and where potential bottlenecks are.

One such is a pie chart that, when you hover over with the cursor, will reveal response time of each of your plugins. Even if these numbers are not 100% correct (run a number of successive tests) you will still get some good indicators.

Additionally, you will find tables with performance related information, most of which will make sense even if you’re not a developer or a super expert.

WP optimization – the different categories

First of all, it’s a jungle out there. And it might not always be the choice with the most downloads that is the best for you. Sometimes going with the crowd is good, but the crowd is not always right!

If we divide the optimizing tools into 4 categories we’ll have:

  1. Those that compresses, combines, concatenates and minifies scripts and design files: will help reduce the number of HTTP requests and thereby improving performance.
  2. Those that optimizes your database: can be quite useful on bigger sites with lots of activity, updates, revisions and publications. Maintenance is always a good thing to, even on smaller sites with fewer pages and less activity.
  3. Tools optimizing your images, quite an important part as very frequently people upload large, high resolution images that will slow down page speed.
  4. Tools to improve caching of pages, content and all that comes with it, lets subdivide these into those that
    1. caches content on a CMS/Wordpress level
    2. caches content on a CMS level AND makes use of server compression techniques (like GZIP) on server level.

Now, with regards to #4, and making use of server level compression, it is not quite as much of a DIY job as the first part. Well it is but depends on how comfy you are changing .htaccess files and potentially mess up your installation.

If you are uncertain or want to experiment but find yourself in new or territory, remember to back up all critical files before applying changes! ALWAYS! Don’t be lazy, one day you’ll be grateful you did!