«Slap-on» speed optimization of your WordPress site

OK, so you might have been at a WordCamp listening to talks or reading a few blog posts and you get that you should really get your WordPress site speed optimized. Starting all over isn’t either tempting nor something you have the time for. Don’t despair, you’ll get a long way by installing 5 plugins.

Of course, you’ve checked your site with the available tools like GTMetrix, Pingdom Full Page Test, Google Pagespeed Insights and Webpagetest. Unfortunately the scores are not as optimal as you now know they should be, and you’re not quite sure where to start.

Much about what you’ve heard and read is about building things the right way from the beginning, but you don’t have the time to that now. Luckily there are a few solutions that will do a pretty decent job for your site with very little effort on your site. You can go through all of these in your lunch and still have time for some slacking.

So, get started, install these 5 plugins:

1. Decrease number of requests with Minit

On just a single page it is not unusual at all to have 100 or more HTTP requests for loading resources like JavaScripts, CSS files and images. There are many plugins freely available that concatenates JS and CSS for you, but the hands-down best I’ve seen is Minit by Kaspars. It is not in the WordPress.org repository, but available on GitHub.

Download Minit here.

2. Minimize the requests with YUI Compressor for Minit

Use something like YUI Compressor or UglifyJS/UglifyCSS for the JavaScript and stylesheets you are making yourself, and ImageOptim (or equivalent) for your images. To handle everybody else’s code, you need a plugin.

Install YUI Compressor plugin for Minit if your server have Java available. Otherwise you can use the pure PHP version available here.

3. Optimize your images with EWWW Image Optimizer

Install EWWW Image Optmizer from the WordPress.org repository. Make sure you go to the options pages and tick the option to strip all metadata. Now go to the media library and select «Bulk Optimize». This might be a little hard on your server’s CPU, but it’s a one time operation as all new images you upload will be optimized on the fly.

4. Lazy load resources with BJ Lazy Load

Don’t load resources before you need them. Images that are «below the fold» don’t have to be loaded before the user scrolls down the page. I created BJ Lazy Load, and it’s available in the WordPress.org repository. It is well tested and runs on some sites with very high traffic volume. It also lazy loads iframes – like YouTube videos.

Download BJ Lazy Load here.

5. Full page caching with W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is probably the best caching plugin out there. It has a ton of features, and I recommend you install this for full page caching. If you have a site with dynamic content – like a webshop – you should be careful with this though. If you’re not entirely sure how each option in this plugin work, don’t enable anything put the page cache.

Now, go test your site again. You should be in the «OK zone».

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I love comments that bring new insights, shares ideas and experiences, and most of all: corrects my mistakes. For support questions, there are other fora, like Stack Overflow, Server Fault and the WordPress support forum.

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