WordPress: Optimisation tips

Creating WordPress sites can be a breeze, but all those plugins soon turn the load time into a bloated experience for the people loading it for the first time. All the CSS, JS scripts, and images that get added increase the load time. There are a few things that can begin to help, firstly you can identify what’s causing the increased load times.

To identify the offending culprits, you can use a 3rd party site to analyse how your WordPress installation is performing (It can analyse any site, but the purpose here is to get information that you can use to improve your WordPress loading speed). Google’s own page tester will give you an audit of mobile and desktop performance, and what the bottlenecks are from scripts & images.

Once you’ve run your site through it, you’ll get a report back on the bottlenecks

Typical report from the google site speed analysis

Now you can start hunting for plugins to help with the load times. You can approach this in a few ways, but two main plugins can help right away.

Reduce your image load with Smush. This plugin is free (mostly), and will process your media library images to make them smaller for you. Then you can use WP Super Cache, to render the pages on your site in an optimised format. It will crunch your files down as small as they can be.

This will help round off some of the rough edges of your site, and running the google site speed tool again should show some improvement. If it doesn’t, then you might have some plugins that are causing the site to load slowly, and might be advisable to disable them one by one and retest.


Personal experience

Smush is a no-brainer, but the cache plugin presented more of a problem. I found many issues that could be pinned down to file access writes, but isn’t obvious immediately.

Use cases

When your site is close to finished, and you need to speed up its delivery to browsers.

Cons

As with all wordpress plugins, sometimes they can be straightforward, or need some level of tech knowledge to make work 100%.

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