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We’re already over 2 months down in 2020, which – as a side note – is a little terrifying, but alas, it’s always a good time to do a quick website performance plugin review! So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
As you may already be familiar, four major components of website performance are as follows:
- Image Optimisation
- Code Tuning
- CDN (Content Delivery Network)
In an ideal world, every website would be practising these 4 things to keep the web as fast as possible.
Within the WordPress environment, each of these things can generally be managed with a plugin (some plugins can even manage more than one of the above things). Better still, you can achieve awesome results with very minimal plugin configuration. Below, we’ll break each item down and provide our current favourite plugins that will give you great results – without breaking the bank.
The good news is that when it comes to caching, one of the best options out there is included for free with Digital Pacific’s personal, business, premium and even reseller hosting plans. Litespeed is a web server software, which replaces Apache for improved performance. Any hosting account housed on a server running Litespeed will automatically have the ability to use a Litespeed Cache plugin (which is an optional extra offered by Litespeed). This plugin is free and generally works very well straight out of the box with no configuration. For advanced users, however, or at least, those users who are interested in researching Litespeed Cache’s extensive options, there are plenty more performance gains to be found should you wish to put in the time to go through them.
For WordPress users who do not have access to Litespeed, or those who want an ultra user-friendly caching option, WP Rocket is a popular second option that we’ve found very easy to use, as well as effective. It does, however, come with a recurring licence fee.
Another very important aspect of website performance i.e. ensuring a website optimisation method is in place. You can either do this manually by downsizing your images prior to upload, or by installing a plugin that will automatically upload all of your images for you as you upload them.
Many plugins offer this functionality, but our favourite so far is EWWW Image Optimizer. With very minimal setup, you can configure EWWW to both resize and optimise all of your existing images, as well as all future uploads. They also offer a very affordable pay-per-image credit system, with no recurring licence fees.
A second option that has worked well for us is the sibling of the aforementioned WP Rocket; Imagify. They are both developed by the same team, and as such, can be trusted to work very seamlessly together. Imagify offers both monthly plans or pay-as-you-go plans.
Code tuning often gets missed, even by seasoned web developers. And yet, it’s one of the most effective ways to increase your page speed scores. If you’re using Litespeed Cache as your caching plugin, you’re in extra luck! Not only will you be using one of the most superior caching plugins currently available, but you also already have everything you need to tune your code too. In Litespeed Cache’s advanced options, you’ll find the general, optimise, tuning and advanced tabs – all 4 of these areas offer all of the tune-up abilities you need. Learning what each setting does, does take time, but if you can spare it, it’s worth it for the performance benefits your site will be able to achieve.
If you don’t have the time to learn, and would rather a quick and easy option that will still give you great (but maybe not the absolute best possible) results, we love Autoptimize. It’s quick, simple and only has a few main settings you need to enable. It’s easy to learn and well explained within the plugin what each setting does, meaning you’ll spend about 10 minutes at most.
CDN (Content Delivery Network)
CDN’s are an interesting one. A lot of people would swear by them as an essential element to making a website perform well. But in actual fact, for certain types of websites, such as those that don’t experience large volumes of traffic and only target local users, having a CDN may actually slow your site down rather than offer any particular benefits.
A CDN is best suited to larger websites, either in page file size, or traffic, or those that are often targeted by denial of service/botting attacks. They are responsible for caching a copy of your website’s static assets (things that don’t change too much, such as images and code). This copy of your website is then duplicated and stored on a multitude of servers all around the world. Then, when your international visitors load your website, they will wait a little less time by being able to load most of your website from the CDN server nearest to them, rather than all the way from your actual home server.
If you feel you do need a CDN, the best options we’ve found are either the one that’s pre-built into EWWW Image Optimizer (so if you’re also using that plugin for image optimisation, this is a great way to keep your plugin count low by also using it for caching). You’ll find it under the “Easy Mode” tab, entitled “Easy IO”. Alternatively, BunnyCDN is a simple, easy to install (and use) option with very affordable pricing.
As always, if you have any questions about this post or our shared hosting, VPS, reseller or dedicated server plans, simply call us on 1300 MY HOST (694 678) during business hours, or submit a ticket through our Support Portal and one of the crew will be in touch!