How long does it take visitors to load your blog? Load times play an important role in the usability and overall function of a blog. If visitors are forced to stare at a loading screen for a long time, some will click their browser back button. Thankfully, WordPress has a massive directory of plugins, many of which can be used to reduce a blog’s load times.
W3 Total Cache
Arguably, one of the most effective ways to reduce a blog’s load time is to enable browser caching. Rather than forcing visitors to reload the same files each time they visit your site, browser caching will automatically store some of these files — HTML, CSS, Java, images, video — locally in their web browser.
Although browser caching can be done by editing your site’s .htaccess file, an easier solution is to use the W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin. According to the developer, it yields a minimum of ten times improvement in site performance when fully configured. That’s a pretty bold statement attesting to the power of W3 Total Cache. The developer goes on to list popular websites that use the W3 Total Cache plugin, including AT&T, mattcutts.com, smashingmagazine.com, and johnchow.com.
W3 Super Cache
An alternative browser caching plugin is W3 Super Cache. It may lack the versatility and features of its Total Cache counterpart, but it’s still a highly effective way to enable browser caching and subsequently reduce load times. In fact, many users prefer W3 Super Cache for one simple reason: it’s easier to use. Trying to navigate through the dozens of options within the Total Cache is a daunting task, especially for people who are unfamiliar with browser caching. W3 Super Cache takes a more simplistic approach, allowing users to enable browser caching with just a few clicks.
So, should you use W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache? If you are looking for the highest level of optimization possible, choose Total Cache. If you are looking for something that’s easy to set up, choose Super Cache.
EWWW Image Optimizer
Don’t let its unusual name fool you, EWWW Image Optimizer is a powerful WordPress plugin that can prove helpful in reducing your site’s load times. Much like the now retired Smush.it plugin, it works by optimizing images uploaded to your blog, converting them to the smallest size format possible while also eliminating unnecessary bits of data. The default settings of EWWW image Optimizer plugin apply lossless optimization techniques to images, meaning it optimizes the images’ size without sacrificing quality. The actual file size of your images will shrink, yet the quality will remain the same.
EWWW Image Optimizer can be configured to optimize all new images, as well as existing images. Give it a try to see how much of a difference it makes in your blog’s images!
Which WordPress plugins do you use to improve load times? Let us know in the comments section below!