Google likes fast! Visitors like fast! So why don’t you go make your site really fast?
Suppose you just bought yourself hosting and you just installed WordPress for blogging or lightweight-CMS-purposes, how can you improve your site’s performance in that case? Easy!
- speed up PHP: use a caching optimizer (I use APC) to significantly speed up PHP performance (don’t bother signing up for shared hosting with a company that doesn’t offer PHP with acceleration).
- cache dynamic output: install the “WP Super Cache” WordPress plugin. Configure and then forget about it; if you create/edit a blogpost, impacted pages are automatically removed from cache.
- optimize CSS and JS: install the “CSS JS booster” WordPress plugin, which (amongst other things) grabs all CSS and JS from WordPress and Plugins and outputs it in one CSS- and one JS-file (some plugins, e.g. Sociable and WordPress Mobile Pack, might need tweaking of the css media-attribute though) UPDATE: CSS JS booster has not been updated since 2010 and I switched to (and later even took over development of) Autoptimize for JS, CSS & HTML optimization.
- optimize images: fire up your favorite photo editor and make that image just a bit smaller, use an acceptable level of compression (I end up between 70 and 80% for JPEG’s, depending on the image) and upload to smushit.com to squeeze out the last optimization-drop (example; I used a 20KB picture from Flickr, resized it to 80%, saved it with 77% compression and smushed it to end up with a mere 6KB).
The impact of a number of these steps can be measured easily; below are the response times of my blog’s homepage (the html including css, js and images) as measured by Pingdom Tool’s Full Page Test.
- default WordPress (on a Linux VPS with 320Mb RAM memory): 6.5 seconds
- (1) with PHP APC activated: 4.1 seconds
- (2) with WP Super Cache: 3.1 seconds
- (3) with CSS JS Booster: 1.3 seconds
So there you have it, from 6.5 to 1.3 seconds in only 5 easy steps! WordPress specific, but easily applicable to other platforms as well. Now go and make your site fast! And then go and make it even faster!