Tag Archives: W3 Total Cache

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Server (Part 3) … Plus Some Jokes

 

WordPress dashboard interface

Oh my goodness. Juliet was right that parting is such bitter sorrow (I have that quote right, correct?), which is why this third and final post on optimizing servers for faster WordPress is going to be emotionally challenging for all of us. I’m available to join hands and sing “Kumbaya” with anyone who feels that would help; just give me directions to the campfire. I’ll bring tinder and an open heart.

In the last two articles, we discussed eighteen WordPress speed ideas from Jason McCreary at Pure Concepts; today, we’ll get a different perspective from the programming blog TekBrand. Offering a wide variety of ways to improve the page load times of your site allows you to dabble in a number of different directions so your site is as user-friendly and SEO-friendly (since page load is part of the algorithm) as possible. These tactics will create a WordPress site on steroids; then we’ll have the practitioner destroy all the records afterwards so we can keep playing ball.

Did you know, Susan (assuming your name is Susan), that Superb Internet is a WordPress host? But wait, there’s more! We give you 50% extra standardly: a full 6 months of hosting with every annual package. I know you’re concerned about our bottom line, but we must be generous – the result of a botched hypnosis session that was supposed to help us quit smoking. Now we chain-smoke menthols and give everything away … and our skin feels like melting chocolate, while our minds feel like freezing venison (ah, well).

WordPress & the Need for Speed

Again I’ll quickly note Jason’s thoughts from the previous two installments: those thoughts provide an encapsulated sense of why speed is important and how these ideas can generally improve our Web efforts. Jason’s general thoughts on WordPress speed (which were initially presented at a couple of WorldCamp events in Kentucky and Illinois, neither of which were held on a fleet of canoes):

  • WordPress is a “heavy” content management system (CMS);
  • WordPress is so popular that it is effectively making the Internet slower;
  • Enhancing WordPress increases our overall knowledge of optimizing page loads.

 

Now let’s shift gears with a look at ideas from TekBrand, with Vipul’s four main pieces of advice on the subject, most of which are free (except for the CDN packages and the hot-air balloon to see the entire Internet all at once from the sky, the latter of which costs $16,495 and includes a romantic dinner for two). Before listing Vipul’s specific ideas (we’ll cover some of the same ground from Pure Concepts & then enter new territory), two of his general notes are worth mention:

  • Not just SEO and UX but bounce rate can be significantly improved by optimizing the site’s speed;
  • WordPress plugins can be detrimental to load times, so WP speed must overcome those setbacks.

Speeding Up Your WP Site – Specific Strategies:

  1. Unplugging Plugins – This mirrors an idea from Jason about auditing the plugins on a site to ensure everything is worth it. Plugins add “weight” to the site. They’re like carbs. Remove the bread, and you’ll make more dough.
  2. Caching – Again, we’re familiar with this advice from Jason. Both of these bloggers recommend this same plugin – W3 Total Cache. It makes the entire site operate better. General server performance is improved, and it optimizes the site for global content delivery networks (CDNs). It also tastes like tapioca. Additional caching plugins recommended by Vipul are WP Super Cache & Hyper Cache.
  3. Database Weight – Vipul notes that all the revisions of a post are stored within the WP database. The reason all those revisions are stored is for backup purposes. However, typically there’s no need for all that stuff. WP database optimizing tools can clean it up, like a kind elderly lady giving a sponge bath to a domesticated squirrel (no judgment). Plugins include Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions (the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind of plugins), WP-Optimize, and WP CleanFix.
  4. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – You can use CDNs with any site, no matter where it’s hosted. In other words, you get your site hosted here (because gosh darnit, I want you as a customer, Susan – your name was Susan, right?) and then integrate the CDNs into your hosting account. Two of the best ones out there are Amazon CloudFront and CloudFlare (the latter of which can warn other aircraft if your hot air balloon gets stuck on the side of the cloud).

Conclusion

We’ve done it. We’ve actually done it. Well, maybe we haven’t done anything. Knowledge, though, as they say, is half the battle. The other part is the actual battle part. Good luck out there. If you have any comments or other ideas (chicken salad recipes, moon landing conspiracy footage), please let us know below.

by Kent Roberts

How to Speed Up Your WordPress Server (Part 2) … Plus Some Jokes

 

Wordpress Button Closeup

Welcome back, everyone. You coming back is proof that if we all stand together, come high water or demons gnashing their teeth or filibustering electric company representatives, we can make it in the Wonderful World of WordPress (now a theme park in Pumpkintown, South Carolina).

Let’s get right into it: speeding up our WordPress sites, with continuing thoughts from Jason McCreary at Pure Concepts. We looked at seven of his ideas in Part 1 and will survey eleven more below. Part 3 will get into several ideas from TekBrand on the same subject.

Note again that at Superb, we can give you a year and a half of WP hosting for the cost of a year! That’s a baker’s dozen, if there are 6 bakers at the Greensburg Muffin Emporium each throwing in an extra muffin. “One extra from each of us, Mrs. McCready.” “But I don’t need this many muffins.” “Mrs. McCready, we ask you kindly to respect our process, or we’ll be forced to have uniformed officers escort you off the premises.” “But I haven’t done anything wrong!” “That’s it, I’m calling 911. Run for it. Leave all the muffins here. We need to sell them to someone who appreciates them.” [Exit Gloria McCready at a full sprint.]

WordPress on Steroids: Faster Than a Ravenous Wild Boar

As a quick review of general comments from Jason in the first installment, WordPress is a “heavy” CMS, which means it is slowing down the Web on the whole. Speeding it up (perhaps by not giving it any food to increase its undomesticated swine rage) is essential to making the user experience as fast and efficient as possible: like fast food with no employee bathroom breaks, and no slowing down, ever, or we will be forced to have uniformed officers escort them off the premises. Here are more of Jason’s ideas (originally presented at WorldCamp Chicago and WorldCamp Louisville – neither of which should be confused with UniverseCamp Alpha Centauri Bb, which was cancelled due to fear that attendees would be incinerated).

  1. Content Delivery Network (CDN) Considerations – A quality CDN spreads your resources throughout the world, which speeds up your site and aids redundancy.
  2. Additional Domains – Typically a Web browser will perform a parallel download of two pieces of content at a time. If you have additional domains, additional downloads can occur simultaneously. Don’t go overboard though: it’s hypothermia weather. You want between 2 and 4 domains, one specific to static content such as style sheets and images. That will help cut down on cookies (which is good for you: remember what the doctor said, honey).
  3. Social Widgets – You want to be able to have social widgets on your site that don’t decrease the speed with JavaScript or CSS via an external domain. Understand them so you can optimize them for speed.
  4. Gravatar – If your blog allows comments, you can speed up the site noticeably (Jason says 10%) by going to Settings > Discussion and nixing Avatar Display: each one is a separate request.
  5. CSS Image Sprites – A CSS sprite can consolidate your images so that the site doesn’t require as many requests to load properly. Setup can be a bit of a pain (typically 8 on a scale of 10, according to sufferers of Sprite Setup Syndrome), but it’ll pay off in performance.
  6. Minify – Get rid of any characters you don’t need in the code. You can unify disparate files. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), for example, can often be combined into one file. Condense to minimize requests.
  7. Compress – Use Smush.it to compress your images and gzip to do the same with your script (it’s safe, unlike removing two ribs to help you get the contortionist gig at the Bolshoi Circus). The latter reduces the strain on resources up to 70%, similarly to removing your slacker boyfriend from the checking account.
  8. Resource Cache – If you cache all the content you can, the static stuff (such as CSS, JS, and images – whatever applies to all site pages) will only be requested once, even with additional page loads. You may want to get rid of ETags as well: Jason and AskApache agree on this point.
  9. WP Cache – You don’t want WordPress code to load repeatedly, so make sure it’s caching as fully as possible. W3 Total Cache, unlike some WordPress plugins, is customizable and broad-spectrum.
  10. PHP Cache – Once you have cached WP, you can speed the site’s loading of WordPress further by caching PHP. The most popular way to cache PHP is via APC, which you can activate within W3 Total Cache.
  11. Hosting – Higher hosting costs will inevitably improve your site’s load times. We all like to keep our costs as low as possible (particularly when buying black-market arthritis medications), but you want to work with a hosting company that specializes in WordPress. To additionally boost performance, use a VPS (virtual private server).

Conclusion & Continuation

All right, now. Let’s keep on tucking. Why stop now? We’re almost to Texarkana, and that’s where we’re picking up the illegal arthritis medications to sell to the residents in your sister’s nursing home back in Chattanooga. Actually, we have another Part to this series as well, so while we drive, flip through the game plan for how we’re going to swindle the cartel guys into giving us the meds for half price. While you do so, I’ll give you a few more ideas from TekBrand to speed up your WP site. Let’s multi-task!

by Kent Roberts