Theme Performance and Optimization

By September 21, 2014 Theme Optimization No Comments
performance

It’s easy to forget about the “small” details when we’re neck deep in code, styling, and image creation (You know, all the meaty, fun-to-do aspects of your WordPress projects). It’s the “small” details that can really add up to make a major impact on your WordPress site.

What is this small stuff?

Theme Performance Optimization!

Theme performance optimization sounds more complicated than it actually is. Sure, there are some specialized performance optimizations that can be set-up, but today’s post is a general list of basic optimizations anyone can implement and reap performance gains. You don’t even have to be a PHP wizard to make these optimizations! The bonus: WordPress simplifies many of these tasks for you with handy plugins. Beyond that, there are a number of FREE tools out there to help you along.

Where to Start?

To get a quick handle on your page speed, complete with a list of items that can be optimized, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights . Enter  in the URL for your site and Google analyzes its performance. You’ll find a listing, with suggestions, of optimizations you can make.

Optimize Your Images

A sure fire way to increase your site speed is to ensure your images are optimized. That means compression! Smush.it  will do just that. Upload your images and it works its magic removing unnecessary bytes from the files. It packages them up in a down-loadable zip file to boot!

Minify HTML, CSS and Javascript

Minify your HTML, CSS and Javascript files. There are plenty of free tools out there for you to use. Here are a few to start you off:

Cache it!

Why keep serving up images that rarely change? WordPress helps you out with convenient plugins.

W3 Total Cache

WP Super Cache

Sprites anyone? No, not the soda, the graphics kind!

Sprites have been around for some time and are an efficient way to make a single request for a number of images. Despise making sprite sheets? No problem, just jump over to the CSS Sprites Generator and let it do the work for you. Now all you have to do is use background-position and you’re on your way.

Monitor your Plugins

Plugins are a great way to simplify tasks and to add functionality to our sites. Though too many plugins, or poorly coded plugins, can quickly have a negative impact. Be sure you need that plugin before you download and activate it. While you’re at it, you can install a plugin to monitor your plugin performance. That way, you can quickly nail down any plugin issues negatively affecting your site.

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

The Wrap

There you have it: a quick and simple list of optimizations anyone can perform on their WordPress site with the benefit of increased page load speed. One final note: Google considers page speed when it comes to search rankings, so it’s always a good idea to make your site as efficient and as quick as possible.

Happy optimizing!

Addendum

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A CDN is a great way to host all of those large files that are powering your site, and that includes images, JavaScript, and CSS files.

What is a CDN you ask? From Wikipedia:

  • A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.

Here is how it works: CDN’s copy your files and host them in one of their data centers.  When visitors come to your site the files are downloaded from the CDN closest to them instead of your server.  That means faster loading and viewing times for your audience!

Some CDN recommendations:

Reduce the Number of Post Revisions

WordPress keeps a copy of every draft of every post or page you’ve ever saved. Over time this adds unnecessary bloat to your server.

Quick fix: Add one line of code to your wp-config file. Yep, that’s it.

define ('WP_Post_Revisions', 7);

In our example we’re limiting the number of saved post revisions to seven. Anything over seven will automagically replace older post revisions versions.