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.
The tools – the nice to haves
So there we are, you’ve ran your tests, scratched your head, looked for ways to improve your site and found all the answers. Just kidding, unless you’re a code geek on more level than one I am reasonably certain there’s always something to learn or something worth considering.
But no matter what, some plugins and tools will be useful to most WordPress site owners. The below are not the only ones, I won’t even say they are or will be ideal for you. They did however do the job for me.
1. Autoptimize: speeds up your website and helps you save bandwidth by aggregating and minimizing JS, CSS and HTML. And it makes optimizing your site really easy. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head, and scripts to the footer. Plus permits some alternative settings.
The plugin minifies the HTML code itself, making your page (more) lightweight. There are advanced options available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific need. NB! You might need these, be also aware that all depending on what else you have, this tool can or might interfer with others. Try the different settings, test your pages and remember to empty your browser’s cache before you do!
2. WP-Optimize: is an extensive WordPress database cleanup and optimization tool. It doesn’t require PhpMyAdmin (PHP/Web based mySQL Database tool) to clean and optimize your database tables. The bigger the site, the more dynamic changes, updates and so forth, the higher the value of this add on. There are others but I’ve found it does the trick for me.
3. WP Smush: strips hidden, bulky information from your images, reducing the file size without losing quality. The faster your site loads, the more Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines will like it. Well I know I like it, and with ever increasing default standards on smartphones and cameras there’s always need for tools to “contain” damage done to page performance by too large images.
4. ZenCache: this is one of those plugins that belongs to the “must have” category. ZenCache takes a real-time snapshot (building a cache) of every Page, Post, Category, Link, etc. These snapshots are then stored (cached) intuitively, so they can be referenced later, in order to save processing time.
The plugin uses configuration options you select from its options panel. Once a file has been cached, ZenCache uses advanced techniques allowing it to recognize when it should or should not serve a cached version of the file. Whenever you update or revise a page, the plugin sees it and automatically removes obsolete or expired/older version of your page.
This plugin works excellent on a WordPress level only but you can quickly extend it to use for instance server compression techniques such as GZIP (applies to Apache web servers). This does however require that you make modification to your site’s .htaccess file. To tell you the truth, smaller sites you might not need it.
A few final words
The above plugins or suggestions are some of many. I will not even claim that they are all best in class. For instance, some claim that W3 Total Cache is the best caching plugin for WordPress. Others have other favorites and the same may apply to every choice I’ve mentioned on this page. I liked Zencache for its simplicity, that it does a marvelous job without having to mess with server compression or edit my .htaccess file.
I did test other nd similar plugins to those above, but ended up with these. One reason being they were easy to use, easy to install, made sense to me, and combined provided everything I needed. Possibly from here to Nirvana.
So there we are then, hope you found these posts useful! Cheers 🙂