If you own a website, one of the biggest challenges next to coming up with solid content, is ensuring that your site loads quickly. Sites that are slow, even with a few seconds of lag time, will see users give up very, very quickly and move on. This is why writing a post about plugins that help keep your website fast is tricky. Can you feel the irony of someone finding this post through their favorite search engine only to bounce away because the site is too slow? Yes, that can easily happen for reasons that are out of your control such as a slow network or some client side issue. However, we do have tools to cover our side of the bargain.
We looked at a number of WordPress plugins to optimize our website speed and improve the user experience. Before we get into that, here are a few simple best practices that you should consider as a foundation since there is no single plugin or groups of tools that are going to do all the work for you:
- Use a reputable web host
- Use an up-to-date WordPress theme – It might be a red flag ff the theme hasn’t been updated in a year, for example.
- Reduce image size – Use an image re-sizing plugin (see below) or reduce them manually before uploading them.Use an effective caching plugin. …
Moving right along, here are some WordPress Plugins that might help you speed up your website.
W3 Total Cache
Like other caching plugins, Zen Cache has a wide array of options which are all configurable from the interface. I like Zen Cache’s interface because it uses drop down menus and is very organized and clean, so all of the options are available on one page.. One feature that Zen Cache has that I didn’t catch in the other caching plugins is the option to use GZIP Compression which can optimize your even further to reduce transfer speeds. Many more features are available in the Pro Version as well.
WP Fastest Cache
For our purposes, WP Fastest Cache delivered and appears to have had the most positive effect on our web sites. Loading times has improved significantly, and pages started to load instantaneously. I tested this on my home network as well as the fiber network at the office and the results were very positive. What’s nice about it is that it offers a simple list of tasks that you can check off, so it gives you a little bit more control than the other plugins that I mentioned above. Also, you do not need to manually edit your .htaccess file since the plugin will take care of this for you.
Also, if you deal with a lot of images, WP Fastest Cache has an image optimization option available in the premium version.
GZip Ninja Speed Compression
We love Imsanity. We’re pretty good about editing and re-sizing our images before we upload them but Imsanity has your back to ensure that your images do not exceed a certain size. This is especially helpful if your is photo-centric or if you have a user contributed site that relies heavily on image uploads. Imsanity will keep your image sizes in check and ensure that things don’t get too “crazy”. Remember, if your images are too large, your site speed can be affected as well as your bandwidth usage.