The latest updates to search engine algorithms put more emphasis on user experience. The World Wide Web is also more competitive than ever, so providing visitors with the best experience whenever they are exploring your site is a must. This means optimizing navigation for easy access to contents, adding a search feature that helps visitors and – above all – making sure the entire site works swiftly and fluidly.
As one of the most popular CMS platforms today, WordPress is relatively fast out of the box. That said, there are also plugins you can use to further speed up your blog and provide an even better user experience. We are going to take a close look at those plugins in this article.
WP Smush comes in two versions. The free one, known as simply WP Smush, is available through WordPress’ plugins directory. There is also a Pro version with more features such as support for multiple websites. What does this plugin do exactly?
WP Smush is the plugin to use if you want to optimize your site’s images. JPG, PNG and GIF files are often slow to load because they are too large, contain unneeded data such as colour profile and aren’t optimized properly. The size of your site’s images matter too.
What’s interesting is that WP Smush can optimize your images automatically. There is no need to tinker with server-based commands or do image optimization manually using Photoshop or other image editing apps. WP Smush compresses images using an advanced compression technique. It also removes the unnecessary data from images automatically.
To make it even better, WP Smush does image optimizations to newly uploaded images automatically. You can also use the Bulk Smush feature to compress and optimize images that are already uploaded to the WordPress site. You save a lot of storage space and improve your site’s loading time with this plugin.
WP-Optimize is another free plugin that is a must if you want to optimize WordPress blogs. This plugin focuses more on database optimization, offering tools that will automate the process of cleaning up and optimizing your WordPress site’s database. For starters, it can automatically remove spam and unapproved comments from the database.
It can also handle the removal of revisions and trash posts. Instead of letting these unneeded entries in the database, you can let WP-Optimize remove them and have a faster database in an instant. Other things such as transient options and trackbacks or pingbacks can also be removed in just one click with this plugin.
WP-Optimize does database optimization in a non-intrusive way. You can tell the plugin to keep the information for a certain period of time before they get deleted if you want to be on the safe side. The plugin also includes some database optimization routines for a faster, more efficient WordPress database.
W3 Total Cache
Next, we have caching. Caching is always a great way to speeding things up, especially if the most pages on your site are static pages that don’t get edited or changed frequently. Instead of letting WordPress do a database query, process the result and display the page, you can simplify the process by caching pages in HTML.
W3 Total Cache offers a wide range of caching functionalities for you to use. You can activate Page Cache to cache pages and reduce the response time of your site. It can also handle minifying and optimizing your site’s CSS and JS files. I do have to remind you that the Minify feature doesn’t always work well with themes and plugins, especially those who require certain JS or CSS files to be loaded in a particular order.
We also have Browser Cache, Object Cache and DB Cache. All of these features do exactly what the name say. When configured properly, W3 Total Cache can speed up a WordPress site considerably. You can do A/B testing using tools such as Pingdom or Google PageSpeed to find the perfect combination of settings for your site.
BJ Lazy Load
We’ve covered several plugins that can help you optimize elements of your site. BJ Lazy Load is slightly different. Instead of optimizing images and web elements directly, it handles the structure of the site to improve user experience. You can use BJ Lazy Load to lazy-load web elements, including images, embedded video and even text widgets.
With the help of BJ Lazy Load, it is easy to structure your site for maximum user experience. You can, for example, focus on main contents of the page and have the plugin load images, design elements and videos in the background. This way, visitors can still read the contents they are looking for without having to wait for the entire site to load first.
Using these four plugins, and you can speeding up a WordPress site considerably. It is easy to offer better user experience and blazing fast loading time now that you have complete control over the optimization of your site.