The ManageWP Guide to Speeding Up Your WordPress Site with Plugins - ManageWP

The ManageWP Guide to Speeding Up Your WordPress Site with Plugins

The ManageWP Guide to Speeding Up Your WordPress Site with Plugins

Never underestimate the importance of speed.

To a great extent, speed affects the perception of the functionality and quality of a website. The reasons for this are rooted in basic human psychology:

  1. Human limitations — we don’t perform as well if we are forced to wait. Information stored in short term memory decays rapidly.
  2. Human aspirations — we always want to be in control of our destiny. Slow and/or unresponsive websites removes the perception of control.

When it comes to browsing the web, I believe that the second reason above is the most important. Cast your mind back to the last time you were forced to hold when telephoning a business. It’s extremely frustrating, isn’t it? You don’t know if you are going to be holding for another five seconds, five minutes, or longer. That experience is the equivalent of coming across a website that is slow to load.

The last thing you want to do is frustrate visitors to your site, so creating a lightning-fast user experience should be a major priority. Whilst we have discussed improving your site speed on ManageWP before, today I want to focus on a few easy-to-implement plugins that can have an immediate and notable effect on the load time of your WordPress site.

Caching

No post on site speed would be complete without mentioning caching. If you have been a WordPress user for any length of time, you will be familiar with the concept. You may not however use a caching plugin, or use one to its greatest potential.

My personal caching plugin recommendation (amongst many alternatives) is W3 Total Cache, for two reasons:

  1. It is the highest-rated caching plugin on WordPress
  2. It is easy to set up

I don’t know about you, but I knew about caching for a long time before I actually started using it, because it seemed like a complicated process. Fortunately, renowned plugin developer Joost de Valk made an easy-to-follow video guide to setting up W3 Total Cache, which you can see below:

With W3 Total Cache and the above video, you have no excuse not to make a dramatic improvement on your site’s load speed.

Lazy Loading

I love the concept of lazy loading, because it can make massive load time improvements to your site without negatively affecting the user experience. That’s why I recommend that all WordPress users install the Lazy Load plugin — co-developed by Automattic and TechCrunch.

Lazy Load performs one simple function — it prevents the loading of any image on your website until it is viewable by the user. So a large image half way through a blog post will not have an effect on the load time when the user first hits the page.

You have probably experienced lazy loading of images on a number of websites — you can usually tell because it takes a split second for an image to pop up when you scroll down to it. Those split seconds can add up if you have a number of images on your site, so take advantage of lazy loading and serve up your webpages to the user more quickly!

Load Plugins Selectively

Although we have previously discussed the fact that the number of plugins installed on your WordPress site is largely irrelevant (when compared to far more important factors), they can of course still have a major impact on your site’s load speed.

With that thought in mind, wouldn’t it be great if you could have complete control over which plugins are loaded on any given page type, and in what order? With Plugin Organizer, you can:

Plugin Organizer

As you can see from the screenshot, you are able to drag and drop plugins into a load time order. If you are aware of a plugin that is particularly resource-intensive, you may choose to load it at the end.

Similarly, you can disable plugins that are not relevant to a particular page type (or to the front end of your site):

Plugin Organizer

Lossless Image Optimization

If there’s one thing that you should take advantage of when speeding up your WordPress site, it is any plugin that decreases load time whilst leaving the user experience unaffected. Lossless image optimization with WP Smush.it is one such plugin.

When installed, WP Smush.it will automatically run any new image uploaded to your site through its optimization process, which will remove unnecessary data from the file without compromising quality. It is truly lossless — you will see no difference in the image.

Furthermore, you can use WP Smush.it’s bulk optimization feature to optimize all existing images on your site.

What Else is There?

Those are the four main plugins that I recommend to increase load speed for your WordPress site. However, there is plenty more that you can do, if you are so inclined.

One slightly more advanced process is to regularly clean your WordPress database — we wrote a guide on that here. Beyond that, you can consider improving your load time by assessing your existing plugins with Plugin Performance Profiler. Furthermore, you should look to use plugins that utilize lazy loading (such as Digg Digg for social sharing).

However, one of the most impactful things you can do to positively affect your site’s load speed is to upgrade your hosting. If you use a shared hosting service, you will notice a major improvement by upgrading to a dedicated server and/or utilizing a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Going down this path does of course have financial ramifications, and you will want to weigh up the cost benefit.

Now it’s your turn — what would you recommend to speed up a WordPress site? Our focus today has been on plugins that are easily implemented. Have I missed any off the list, or do you recommend alternatives to the plugins I have mentioned above? Let us know in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Andrew Morrell Photography

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of WordCandy.co. He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!

28 Comments

  1. معلومات طبية

    Improve the cache of the browser
    Showing how the solution
    I could not solve this property do you advise me of Tips

  2. Devs

    Hi all, I have a site that uses infinite scrolling and wondered if there was a caching plunging that would work in conjunction with this to speed things up or is this not supported?

    Many thanks,

    Devs 😉

  3. michaeltieso

    Great recommendations in here.
    Seeing as Lazy Load hasn’t been updated in the last year, I’m not sure it’s going to get any more updates. I saw that BJ Lazy Load is still being updated and looks pretty decent. Haven’t tested it yet though.

    1. Tom Ewer

      Thanks for the suggestion Michael, I’ll check it out!

  4. Rajesh

    Nice article Tom, I always prefer W3 Total Cache over WP Super Cache. WP Super Cache is easy to setup but not that much effective as compare to W3 Total Cache.

    I’ll use Plugin Optimizer to check which plugin is causing the slow site issues. Also I prefer using CDN.

    Many plugin developers are new developers, they’re not following the WP standards. Such plugin affects site load times.

    Cheers,
    Rajesh

    1. Tom Ewer

      Thanks Rajesh!

  5. Keith Davis

    Hi Tom
    Just checking out Lazy Loading on a local site.
    If all goes well I’ll try it on a live site.
    Always looking for ways to speed up WordPress.

  6. Afshin Mokhtari

    Wow, some really nice information. I didn’t know about lazy loading…

    From what I’ve seen, the main way that most people are slowing down their sites is with image files. I’ll definitely have to look into WP Smush.it. So far my favorite trick for .png files is to use tinypng.org, which has been priceless.

    Also I think the cache plugins are indispensable.

    Thanks again.

    1. Tom Ewer

      Thanks for the suggestion Afshin — I’ll have to check that tool out!

  7. Joseph Hirst

    Wow! I’ve been designing and deeloping WordPress websites for my clients just shy of two years, I had no idea that you could allocate wordpress plugin load orders!

    This will most definetly be a huge help on some of the image and plugin heavy sites I develop in the future. Thanks so much for this post!

    1. Tom Ewer

      No problem Joseph :-)

  8. Dennis

    Thanks Tom, my site was slow as molasses. It’s still a bit sluggish but I think it’s because of shared hosting. I’ll put out the money for a dedicated server soon I hope. Thanks again.

    1. Tom Ewer

      Pleasure Dennis!

  9. j

    It would be great if you could actually use W3 Total Cache with ManageWP. However at times you have to deactivate and active W3 Total Cache in order for ManageWP to actually notify you of plugin and WordPress updates.

    https://managewp.com/user-guide/known-issues

  10. elsayed

    Nice Info. Thank You! 😀

  11. talha zahid

    nice guide (y) i made a similar thing but not big as this one ..http://www.psdpakistan.com/webdesigning/wordpress-website-optimization/ this might help few..

  12. Tom

    Hello,

    I installed W3 Total Cache and am not sure what to put as my cdn hostname, I’m on a shared hosting account, any suggestions?

    1. Tom Ewer

      Hi Tom,

      If you’re on shared hosting you don’t have a CDN, so you should ignore those settings.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      1. Tom

        OK, thanks for the reply.

        1. Tom

          It would help if you posted that information.

          1. Tom Ewer

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWzvLXzTPIk

            Google is your friend 😉

  13. Simon

    Probably one of the most useful WordPress posts I’ve seen. Familiar with caching a WordPress install but you’ve also suggested a couple of promising plugins that I wasn’t aware of. Will take a look at them. Thanks!

    1. Tom Ewer

      No problem :-)

  14. daisopa

    In fact, I think too many plugins so they will slow down the site loading.My blog can be open in the second, without a plugin.I manually optimized for a lot of things, including the theme code and post pictures.etc…..

  15. Robert

    I really want to use W3 Total Cache on my blog since I have used it on many blogs before. But I don’t know why W3 Total Cache makes Digg Digg floating sharebar aweful. The sharebar was put down to the end of footer :( I don’t know how to fix it, so I decide to stay with WP Super Cache.

    1. Tom Ewer

      Hm, strange — this is not a problem I’ve had as a Digg Digg user…might be a problem elsewhere.

  16. hallo

    Thanks for the tip on Lazy Loading, didn’t know that one!

    I do use infinite scrolling plugin for user experience and speed (ie. only show 5 posts instead of 10, when the user scrolls down another 5 get loaded)

    1. Tom Ewer

      Great suggestion, although I’d be a little concerned about the SEO ramifications.

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