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Speeding Up WordPress Starts With Plugin Developers

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.

Set the Height and Width of Images

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.

Minify CSS and JS

3. Put Code in Footer, Not Header
If at all possible, please put JavaScript into the footer of our sites. I know some things need to be in the header, but not everything has to be. Lets let the page load and then worry about all the additional JavaScript.

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:

Use CSS Sprites

5. Allow Me To Host The Assets
You’ve got me to install a plugin, which required me to upload files to my site, so why does the plugin now link out to a different site to get the images, CSS or JavaScript? Why can’t it all live locally?

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.

Setup Caching on Your Site

7. Serve Content From a Cookieless Domain
Again, if you’re going to load images and files from your site, how about you serve it up from a cookieless domain? Why? Because cookies and requests get complicated and it slows down loading time. Learn more about it here.

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.

Compress Images

9. Simplify
Whether it’s JavaScript, PHP or HTML code, chances are it can be reduced to do the same amount of work with less code. The less code your extension executes, the better it should run.


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?

Share Assets

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.

1 Response

  1. Thompson says:

    Here here! Nice post. I’m thinking about switching to Greg’s high performance seo for this very reason. He says it has 500 or 700 (something like that) lines of code, which he claims is half as much as All in One SEO. Don’t know. I’ve still got to really test it out. It looks more complicated. But if it really is faster, it might be worth it.

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