This post serves as a bit of a mental note, hence the brevity. I know this is a hotly contested topic, so I’ll keep it nice and to the point: here’s my quick guide on how to optimising WordPress (caveat emptor – your mileage may vary).

Goals

  • Serve WordPress pages as quickly as possible
  • Keep things simple and easy to manage
  • Don’t pay for plug-ins – pay for quality

Measuring success

  • I use GT Metrix to measure and compare results
  • Other tools, especially Chrome’s build-in Lighthouse, are available and may provide “better” insights but are harder to share.

Plugins

Results

The results pre-optimisation

Using bebraver.uk managed web hosting and Cloudflare without any caching plugins – this serves as our baseline. Nginx caching, Apache FPM PHP7 with opt-code cache. 

B 87% Google Page Speed, D 79% YSlow, Page load time: 9.0sec
GTMetrix Results - baseline

Applying the plugins

Using the caching and optimisation plugins with images delivered via Cloudinary CDN, which isn’t something the testing tools pick up on very well. Assets are delivered in an optimised manner based on device, viewport size and bandwidth.

B 89% Google Page Speed, C 78% YSlow, Page load time: 5.4sec
GT Metrix Results - with optimisation plugins

Trying HardyPress

Using HardyPress static site service as a comparison what you can achieve. It’s a lovely service which makes boutique websites fly 🙂

A 94% Google Page Speed, B 81% YSlow, Page load time: 2.5sec
GT Metrix Results - no plugins, just static pages

Summary

Using caching plugins and optimising images, especially on a site that has lots of images, will help speed up your site.

Even when hosted with good hosting provider, server side caching only goes so far and can result in contacting support regularly when you don’t have full control over purging caches. So having a simple solution makes live easier and still gains a lot of improvement.

Ideally, you would use WordPress as a headless CMS and render out static pages using Gatsby/React or, if you fancy something with less complexity, just choose a host like HardyPress.

Disclosure

I run a business called be braver, which offers managed web hosting – especially WordPress websites – which includes optimisations like this and more, as well as reselling HardyPress. If you are interested in learning more, please leave a comment or just say [email protected] and reference this article.

I do not get a kick back directly from HardyPress and I have been using their service successfully as a test and now trial offering it as part of be braver’s range for specific customers. If you are an existing customer please reach out and we can offer a comparison between your current site and using HardyPress.


Also published on Medium.