I am using WordPress for the last seven years. That’s a long period to try out several plugins and themes, encounter problems and solve them.
However, one problem that bugged me a lot since the beginning was how should I speed up my WordPress site.
I cannot stand a slow loading website. And I don’t expect visitors on my site to wait for 7-8 seconds for the website to load. That load time is just atrocious.
To solve the problem of slow loading, I tried multiple plugins, tried using better coded and optimised themes and jumped from hosting to hosting till I found a right combination of optimisation plugins, a good theme and a turbocharged hosting.
That’s the trifecta you want to hit. A perfect blend of optimisation plugins, excellent theme and fast hosting is divine and super fast.
I have already written about them extensively here.
So, today I want to speak about the plugins that sped up my website and will speed up yours too.
Before I stumbled upon WP Rocket, I used to install W3 Total Cache. That’s one little plugin, and it is available as a freemium version. For pro features, you need to buy their licence.
While W3 Total Cache works well, I always found it challenging to configure. There are too many options, and they are confusing at times. And I consider myself reasonably tech-savvy. But even for me, I had to figure out each setting.
Once I got the hang of the configuration, I was able to use. But, there was one issue that I was never able to solve entirely, that is minification.
Minification is a two-step process. Files are combined, and then redundancy is removed from them.
I will explain to you what that means.
So, what happens is you get one file instead of ten different files. That means when your site loads, server has to deliver only one file instead of ten different files.
Makes sense, right?
Or it can be the comments or the long variable names in these files.
You may be wondering how whitespace is going to slow down my website?
Well, with the addition of each character in the file, the size increases. The increase may not be much, but when you have a stylesheet that is 1000 lines long then saving on whitespaces will make your stylesheet leaner.
Let me circle back to the original topic.
So, W3 Total Cache does provide this minification option. What happens when you combine different files is, your site may not work as expected.
Some styles may break, the menu will not open, or the image slider stops sliding etc.
Overall user experience breaks down with minification.
To solve this issue, you minify only a few files while keeping the problematic files as they are. This can become cumbersome very quickly because generally speaking your WordPress website uses around 20-30 such files. And finding out a right set of files that we can minify becomes a hellish task.
This is something I was never able to achieve through W3 Total Cache.
But when I installed WP Rocket, minification suddenly became a simple task. I just selected the basic options of minification, and everything worked right out of the box: no elimination process or complicated configuration.
Before using WP Rocket, my site was loading in 3-4 seconds. Now, after using the plugin, the site loads in 700-900 ms.
Now that is a phenomenal performance.
The only downside is WP Rocket is not a FREE plugin.
You have to shell out $39 per year for one website. But the speed improvement I got with using this plugin was an investment worth doing.
While developing a website, we rarely give attention to the size of the images that we are using on the site. Images that we generate on Photoshop or Canva are bloated at times. And using big images slow down the website significantly.
Imagine having ten images, 400kb each. The pictures themselves will take 4 Mb size. And that’s not good when we are trying to keep the webpage size below 3 Mb.
To solve this problem, export the images from Photoshop that are optimised for the web or otherwise use a plugin that will compress the images.
Previously I used to install EWWW Image Optimiser. Now, this plugin is incredible. I still use it on my client’s website where I don’t need too much compression.
But it kind of fails to compress big images.
This is where Imagify has helped me. It provides three types of compressions—normal, Aggressive and Ultra.
Check the following screenshot. This plugin compressed a 500kb image to 37kb using the Aggressive compression. And the best thing is there was no significant visible loss of quality.
I mean, I didn’t see any difference between the compressed image and the original one.
The best thing about Imagify is it comes with a FREE plan.
Therefore you can give it a try without spending a dime. And I will highly suggest you use it to speed up your website.
Having a fast website is a necessity. And both of these plugins have helped speed up my website. Give them a spin, and you won’t be disappointed.