Posts Tagged ‘loading time’

5 proven WordPress plugins that you can use to easily speed up your website

plugins to speed up WordPress

Your website doesn’t load as fast as it should? This is indeed a problem because users are becoming more and more impatient—especially the mobile ones. If they don’t see the loaded page after a maximum of two seconds, they may be discouraged and click “back” in the browser, or simply close the window.
In addition, the position of your site in the Google search results is also somewhat dependent on its loading speed. Slow websites have no chance of getting ranked highly, especially when the competition is strong and numerous.

Tools that measure page loading time, in addition to the results, display a list of recommendations that suggest what can be improved on the tested page to speed it up. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to be an expert (programmer or server administrator) to significantly reduce the loading time of your WordPress-based website.

“You don’t have to be an expert to significantly reduce the time of loading your WordPress-based website.”

WordPress plugins related to speed

There are many plugins that automatically optimize the website in terms of loading speed. Some of them work better, some are worse, others may not have any effect at all.

We have prepared a list of five plugins for you, which we have tested and which we use on our own WordPress-based websites.

The recommended plugins really do speed up the website

1. Smush Image—optimization of image files

Smush Image

The procedure that allows you to really “slim down” the website—in the sense of reducing its total weight—is the optimization of bitmap image files (PNG, JPG, etc.). It involves compressing—usually without any loss of quality—existing images.

Smush Image (formerly WP SmushIt) allows you to not only optimize all the bitmaps on the website but also to compress all uploaded images on the fly.
 

 

Alternative plugins:
Shortpixel
Kraken.io
Imagify

2. a3 Lazy Load—”lazy loading” of images

a3 Lazy Load

“Lazy loading” is a technique of loading image files with a delay—as the page scrolls, instead of loading them all immediately.

The aforementioned Smush Image also has this feature, but it doesn’t always work correctly. In turn, a3 Lazy Load is a plugin that specializes in this and works really well.

Alternative plugins:
BJ Lazy Load
Lazy Load

3. Autoptimize—optimization of text files

Autoptimize

Text files usually “weigh” much less than images—but many of them are loaded everywhere on the website, not just on one subpage. I am talking here about CSS styles, JavaScript scripts and the HTML code of the pages.

Autoptimize minifies the size of text files by removing any unnecessary characters from them—e.g. spaces or end-of-line characters. The optimized code is much less readable to humans, but it doesn’t make any difference to the browser—and it weighs a lot less.

The plugin performs optimization “on the fly”—that is, the file on the disk remains unchanged, while the browser serves its minified version. Thanks to this, the problem of lack of readability doesn’t exist at all.
Additionally, Autoptimize performs several other actions—adds special headers, moves styles to the HEAD section and scripts to the footer.

Alternative plugin:
WP Super Minify

4. W3 Total Cache—website caching

W3 Total Cache

To simplify, the caching of a website involves all pages getting saved to the hard drive in the form of static files, so they can be displayed faster—without the need to generate them during every visit using the database. This method gives the best results in the case of hosting based on fast SSDs.
For a long time, there has been a “race” between several popular caching plugins. You can find many tests on the Internet being won by a different plugin every time.

W3 Total Cache is one of the leaders of such rankings, usually ranking just before or just behind WP Super Cache. It is an extensive plugin that offers many options and is compatible with various web servers and most other plugins, which allows the users to significantly speed up the loading of websites and unburden the hosting’s resources.

 

Alternative plugins:
WP Super Cache
WP Rocket

5. Clearfy—”correcting” WordPress and plugins

Clearfy

Clearfy improves WordPress’s performance mainly by disabling or blocking selected functions of the platform and some plugins (e.g. Yoast SEO), which are not necessary for the operation of a given website. Clearfy also adds some new features—in total, offering more than 50 options to optimize the site.
 
 
 

 

Alternative plugins:
WP Disable
Perfmatters

Test and measure

Do not blindly trust recommendations, even ours. Install each plugin separately in your WordPress, and then test the effects by measuring the load times and checking the Google Page Speed rating. Experiment with different settings.
Perhaps in your case, the alternative plugins listed above will work better.

NOTE: If you use a caching plugin, don’t forget to clear the cache after installing a new plugin or making changes to the configuration.

Bonus: Check your hosting

The quality of the hosting service also has a big impact on the speed of the website. Assuming you aren’t running a popular website or a large online store with huge amount of traffic, we’re talking about shared hosting here.

Ensure that:

  • you aren’t using the services of one of the market giants who “pack” shared customers as tightly as sardines
  • your server uses fast SSDs (and not outdated HDDs)
  • you are running the latest PHP version recommended by WordPress (on the day of writing this article it is version 7.3)
  • you are using a CDN (e.g. a free version offered by CloudFlare which also offers a plugin for easy integration)—especially if users of your website come from different countries.

What’s next?

If the effect achieved using the plugins and hosting suggestions described above still doesn’t satisfy you, you can use various additional tools aimed at improving the speed of websites. The next step is to hire experts to perform a professional audit and optimization of your site.

WebPageTest – making the web faster

The mind of the average computer user boggles – why do big players like Google, AOL and the like develop cool programs and applications for free? What benefit do they get by offering niche services to users for absolutely no cost? Surely a lot of money and manpower must go into developing, testing and then delivering such tools. Why then, do they not charge a single penny for such brilliant inventions?

The answer to those questions is simple – for the greater good! In this world of competition, professional rivalries, and survival-of-the-fittest games, there are organizations that take pride in providing helpful utilities to make the Web a better place, be it in terms of accessibility, user-friendliness or speed.

This post is dedicated to one such free online tool which ensures that website loading speed and performance are the least of your botherations. Meet WebPageTest.org.

webpagetest

Making the web faster, one site at a time

WebPageTest is an open source project that was originally developed by AOL for their internal use, but realizing its potential, they open sourced it under a BSD license in 2008. Currently supported by Google, the platform is under active development on GitHub. That means its builds are periodically packaged and made available for download to allow users to run their own versions of the tool (although the online version of the tool suits most purposes).

WebPageTest allows website owners to run free speed tests to check the load time of their web pages. It lets them view their site’s performance through 6 different performance grades and also displays a checklist of suggested changes for increasing the site’s speed. And if you’re thinking what’s so special about free speed tests, here’s the real USP of the tool – it lets you run the tests from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers (different IE and Chrome versions) and at real consumer connection speeds. What’s more, you can customize the tests in any way you want including simple tests, advanced tests with multi-step transactions, video capture, content blocking and much more. The results of the tests conducted by the tool provide rich diagnostic information including resource loading waterfall charts, page speed optimization checks and much more.

And if you thought speed was its one and only forte, you’re just half correct. WebPageTest also lets you conduct Visual Comparison tests as well as run ICMP Traceroute from any of the test agents.

Enough with the vocal appreciation, let’s try the tool hands on!

webpagetest1

This is how the tool works

To say that the tool has a learning curve involved won’t be entirely true, but it won’t be entirely false either. The only thing you need to have is knowledge about web performance community terminology and you’re good to go. But then, as a website owner you’d be a pro at that already, won’t you? Very well, let’s get straight to business.

Visit www.webpagetest.org and you’ll see what you want right in the middle of the screen. There’s no-nonsense involved which is good. Just enter the URL of the website you wish to test, pick a test location (this will be a combination of a physical location on the map plus some information of the target environment), select which browser you wish to run the test on, and hit the big yellow button that says “Start Test”. You can also customize the test configuration through an “Advanced Settings” drop-down before starting.

While the above describes how you can conduct an “Analytical Review” of your website, click on the “Visual Comparison” tab to compare your website with established industry pages such as Google, AOL, Bing, CNN, LinkedIn, etc or with any other specific URLs. By default the results of these tests are public. If you wish to make them private, you’ll need to make changes to test settings on the main test page.

WebPageTest also lets you run an ICMP Traceroute test from any of its test agents (partners). To run this test you need to supply your website’s host name or IP address, pick the test agent you wish to use, pick a desired browser and specify how many tests (up to 9) you wish to conduct.

With features as impressive as that, it’d be hard not to give the tool a try.

  • Analyze your website speed in details from multiple locations with webpagetest.org/ via @supermonitoring

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Super Monitoring partners with WebPageTest.org

For consistency purposes, the tool’s online version is available at www.webpagetest.org and a number of prestigious companies from around the globe provide testing infrastructure to it. Since the tool benefits not just website owners, but individuals and organizations interested in the web performance community, quite a few big names have joined hands with WebPageTest to offer testing locations to it and contribute their bit to the betterment of the Web.

One of the latest partners to join WebPageTest in May of 2016 is Super Monitoring. The cool website uptime monitoring service recently collaborated with WebPageTest to provide the most eastern testing location in Europe (in Poland to be precise). Ain’t that cool?

webpagetest2

Final Words

Don’t let lousy loading times cause your website loss of traffic. Keep tabs on it with WebPageTest and give your site’s performance a real boost.

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