5 Plugins To Make Your WordPress Blog Blazing Fast

24 10 2009

Miscellaneous Blog Tips73 comments

This is a guest post by Sid Savara, whose main passion is personal development and personal productivity. Folloon twitter @sidsavara for motivation, inspiration and just chatting

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If a tree falls in a forest, I don’t know if anyone hears it – but when your blog crashes or takes forever to load, I guarantee you nobody is reading.

When you work hard on your content, but aren’t able to capitalize on the attention because your blog takes too long to load you are throwing away hours of hard work and thousands of visitors. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve had multiple performance issues over the past year where SidSavara.com was unable to handle some of the traffic spikes that came my way – and believe me, it is soul-crushing to see your site doing well on social media sites, and knowing that many of those readers will leave before your article loads. It’s not every day you get 250,000 visitors to your blog.

Optimizing WordPress is a thankless, but necessary job. When your site is running quickly people don’t notice – but if your blog is down or slow, visitors will complain or worse (and much more frequently) just leave. In fact, if the very first page a visitor sees takes even a second too long to load, they are likely to leave instantly without reading anything – on to the next shiny thing that has caught their interest, and on to someone’s blog that is optimized.

I recently decided to dedicate some time to deal with this. After trying out many plugins, crashing my website a few times due to plugin incompatibilities and reviewing my results here are my recommendations – and it’s easier than you think.

5 Plugins To Make Your WordPress Blog Blazing Fast

  • WP Super Cache by Donncha O Caoimh– A very fast caching plugin for WordPress. This is what has been saving me from traffic spikes. In a normal WordPress install, every time a visitor comes to your site WordPress builds the webpage for them from scratch by pulling information out of the database and processing a variety of things in the software. The bottom line is, this is time consuming – and usually after you’ve published a blog post, it doesn’t change very much except when people comment. When a page is loaded, WP Super Cache caches a static (one time generated) copy of that webpage, and then every time a new visitor comes, it preferentially gives them the cached version of the page. This is much faster, and has totally saved me when a rush of people come from one of my posts going viral.
  • GZIP Output by Austin Matzko– This plugin automatically compresses CSS, Javascript and HTML output, allowing it to travel faster from your blog to a visitor’s browser. According toBest Practices On Yahoo! Developer Network: “Gzipping generally reduces the response size by about 70%. Approximately 90% of today’s Internet traffic travels through browsers that claim to support gzip.” This is a simple change that will not affect what your readers see at all – except that it will load in their browser faster.
  • WP Minify by Thaya Kareeson– This plugin uses the Minify engine to combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time. Like the previous plugin, it also automatically shrinks the size of your files without you having to do anything.
  • W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes– If I was starting a brand new blog today, this is what I would use on day one – and then go with a more complicated set up (like I have currently) after it grows. This plugin is amazing. It includes minify capabilities, caching (but less aggressive than WP Super Cache) and GZip compression.
  • Free CDN by Phoenixheart– If you have static files (images, javascript, css) taking a long time to load and slowing your site down, you may benefit by installing Free CDN – especially if you have large images. Briefly, a CDN is a content delivery network. Static files are cached on the CDN and pulled from their servers instead of your own – which means that your server has to do less work, and potentially can serve more people at once, faster.
  • Bonus: Upgrade WordPress! This isn’t a plugin, but every time a new version of WordPress there’s a good chance they’ve optimized the software so it runs faster than before. Be sure totest your blog after you upgrade to make sure everything still runs smoothly.

Firefox Plugins To Test WordPress Performance

You can check for yourself how fast your WordPress blog is and instantly get recommendations on what you can do to improve it with some free software. I useFirefox with the Firebug and YSlow plugins installed. The YSlow user guide is excellent and will give you all the tools you need to see where your site is slow, and what can be done to improve it. Darren has also previously written about 5 Methods to Enhancing Page Load with some best practices for ensuring your blog loads quickly for visitors.

This is a guest post by Sid Savara, whose main passion is personal development and personal productivity. For new email subscribers, he is offering a free copy of his new ebook The Little Book of Big Motivational Quotes.

via problogger

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