I’ve recently been looking at Google’s speed test tool and working to increase the speed of some of the sites I interact with daily. Where as there are things that we, as blog owners, can control, a lot of speeding up WordPress falls in the hands of plugin developers.
Here is what WordPress plugins developers can do to help us all out:
1. Set the Height and Width of Images
I know this is an easy one not to do, and it’s one of the most common issues that Google reported, but it’s so easy. Please set the height and width of all images in your plugin.
2. Minify CSS and JS
Minifying just means condensing. This can be done by removing any blank lines and even line breaks when you publish your plugin code.
3. Put Code in Footer, Not Header
4. Use CSS Sprites
This one is for those plugins that show multiple images in my content; like social icons. Instead of having many images, only have one. Then use CSS code to determine what image shows where. It’s pretty slick actually. You can learn more about CSS Sprites here: http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/
5. Allow Me To Host The Assets
6. Setup Caching on Your Site
If you’re going to load images from your site, make sure to set up your server to specify how long the images are cached. This one is a bit more technical, but if you can build a plugin, you can set up cache control. Here’s how to do it on Apache.
7. Serve Content From a Cookieless Domain
8. Compress Images
Sometimes a JPG at 80% can look really nice. Compare that file size to a PNG, or JPG at 90%, and the difference can be 3x smaller. Compression isn’t a bad thing, it’s just about getting the settings right. And when you do, images can download much faster.
10. Share Assets
I’m not sure if it’s possible or not, but WordPress comes with jQuery, feed parsing and lots of other scripting built-in. So why not use their code instead of re-bundling it with your extension? Can we share scripts to cut down on the amount of redundant code?
Now I’m no expert on WordPress plugins as I haven’t created more than a few basic ones, but I think that plugins are key to speeding up thousands of WordPress powered blogs around the internet. Faster blogs makes for happier site owners, better blog usability, and possibly better search performance.