What is Speed Optimization?
In simple terms, it means optimizing these issues inherent with WordPress which are there out of the box.
That may not always be straightforward and can involve some compromise give the configuration, content and functionality of a website.
Speed Optimization has two distinct components being the changes that are implemented on the WordPress website itself and then optimization which is applied to the website hosting and the servers that provide the hosting.
With premium shared hosting like that offered by Site Ground and our managed Cloud Hosting provided by Cloudways, the changes are taken care of on the server.
How is Speed Optimization implemented?
Like all things once what is required is understood the process is simple, straightforward and not mystical at all, as some would have you believe.
There are some very clever people in the WordPress community who have developed plug-ins that take can of many of these issues.
A complete list of the plugins I use to achieve the performance outcome required is available at the foot of this post.
The very first step with any new project is to apply proper housekeeping to ensure all of the basics of the site are correctly configured, in all, there are twelve tests we apply to your site, which requires a 100% pass before any optimization can commence.
All themes, plugins and the WordPress platform must be right up to date before the WordPress database is cleaned, all tables optimized and any revisions deleted.
At this point, it should be said the biggest single and most significant factor in the speed of a website is hosting! Be warned that much of the shared hosting available is rubbish.
In assessing your site, if we find that you are hosted on a low-quality host that we impede any attempt to optimize your site we will strongly suggest you make a change.
Ask for a recommendation.
We have premium shared and dedicated cloud hosting options that have proved to perform exceptionally well, and that we use for all of our own sites.
Installing Quality Plugins
Performance, security and functionality can all be greatly enhanced by installing the right plug-ins that are lite-weight, have quality coding, multiple functions and zero conflicts which can be the bane of all WordPress users.
We currently use a suite of 37 plugins, not all installed and running at one time I might add as some have a setup function only and can then be deactivated.
Web Performance Best Practice
The Web Performance Best Practices and Rules are largely defined by Google Page Speed and Yahoo Y Slow.
Google PageSpeed Rules
Avoid bad requests
Avoid landing page redirects
Enable gzip compression
Inline small CSS
Leverage browser caching
Minimize request size
Optimize the order of styles and scripts
Put CSS in the document head
Serve resources from a consistent URL
Serve scaled images
Specify a cache validator
Combine images using CSS sprites
Avoid CSS @import
Prefer asynchronous resources
Specify a character set early
Specify image dimensions
Avoid a character set in the meta tag
Remove query strings from static resources
Specify a Vary: Accept-Encoding header
Yahoo YSlow Rules
Yahoo identified 34 rules that affect web page performance and their YSlow web page analysis is based on the 23 of these 34 rules that are testable.
Minimize HTTP Requests
Use a Content Delivery Network
Avoid empty src or href
Add an Expires or a Cache-Control Header
Put Stylesheets at the Top
Put Scripts at the Bottom
Avoid CSS Expressions
Reduce DNS Lookups
Remove Duplicate Scripts
Make AJAX Cacheable
Use GET for AJAX Requests
Reduce the Number of DOM Elements
Reduce Cookie Size
Use Cookie-Free Domains for Components
Do Not Scale Images in HTML
Make favicon.ico Small and Cacheable
Ticking all the Boxes
When a website is well optimized it will be able to tick all of these boxes which can be demonstrated by testing the URL in any one of these tools, the most comprehensive test and my preferred test is: WebPageTest www.webpagetest.org
There are of course many others including GTMetrix.com https://gtmetrix.com and Pingdom Website Speed Test https://tools.pingdom.com/
If only if the process was that simple and that was the end of it but sadly that’s not the case.
I mentioned earlier about the plugins I use to achieve the performance outcome required. Here’s my complete list:
• Advanced Database Cleaner
• 404 to Homepage
• All in One Security
• Clean Options
• Column Shortcodes
• Dashboard Directory Size
• Disable Image Compression
• Foo Gallery
• Force strong Hashing
• Genesis Simple Edits
• Google Analytics
• Gravity Forms
• Image cleanup
• Images sizes
• Index Autoload
• MainWP Child
• Media File Renamer
• PDF Embedder Premium
• PHP Compatibility Checker
• PHP Settings
• Post SMTP
• Show Dimensions in Library
• The SEO Framework
• TinyMCE Advanced
• Widget Visibility without Jetpack
• WP Editor Widget
• WP Gmail SMTP
• WP Sitemap
• WP YouTube Lyte
All of these plugins require setting up to be able to perform well without conflict or compromising performance in any way.
That process of setting up causes many people including web developers a great deal of grief and the reason that many websites have ignored this and as a consequence perform poorly.