Depending on the niche, the static content of your WordPress website may cause a lot of troubles and what is more important, it could drastically slow down your website. The best website speed optimisation trends suggest that each site owner of developer needs to speed up WordPress static content. This is one of the corner stones that would guarantee success in the long run.
Before looking at the details of such optimization, let’s answer some important questions:
What is WordPress static content ?
How static content appears on your website ?
Nowadays each theme and plugin comes with some kind of static content. I am sure you would agree that nobody would install theme without at least basic style and functionality. These features are usually based on content we call static.
Reduce or speed up the static content ?
Well, there is no definitive answer of this question. The practice shows that both of these approaches give positive result. The real live examples I have prove that the best result is based on combination of these two.
How to reduce the static content ?
This could be tricky moment in WordPress speed optimisation. Unfortunately, there are no well known techniques that can be applied on every website over the Net. The following are good suggestions:
- You can review your articles and either reduce or at least compress the images
- Remove any additional themes or plugins you do not need
- Check your theme’s main CSS file and try to identify the part you never used or will use. Perhaps your may remove it without affecting the normal functionality of the theme
- Take a look at your .htaccess file. Some security plugins add additional lines to that file making it quite large
- Close revision of JS files would help remove the unused ones. Majority of the themes out there come with 20,30 to 50 .js files that are being included in every single page, killing its speed this way.
How to analyse the static content and its speed
Now after these more general suggestions, it is time to look at what is the remaining static content and how to optimize it of top performance. The first point here is to analyze the data flow and prepare a strategy. There are two options to achieve this: 1) Using browser console or 2) online tools such as gtmetrix or pingdom. Short explanations for each one of these approaches is as follows:
To analyze the speed using browser, just visit your page -> right click -> Inspect -> Network -> Refresh the page to see the results. Here is what you would see:
What we have here are one CSS, one JS and 2 image files. These are all static content and we have the following options to speed them up:
- Compress the existing images. That is task for ewww plugin. The said extension compresses the image while uploading, but also has bulk compress option which aims to optimize the existing files.
- The next step is compress CSS and JS files. Luckily we can apply similar tactics here. There is great plugin called Better WordPress Minify. It is focused on removing the unnecessary spaces from those files.
Right after those steps, we can back and perform the same steps. Data analysis should also take place. As a result of this in majority of the cases the results show 20% better performance. The final touches should be the next thing to apply if everything so far is OK. In order to achieve even better results, we need to use some caching mechanics. It could be Content Delivery Network, WordPress plugin installed on the application or caching feature installed on the server level. Depending on the situation each one of these solutions would give the desired result.
What if no caching service is available ?
There are some more specific situations in which the hosting providers do not support caching on the server level. In such cases, the website owners may give a try to CDN or a plugin. To me personally W3 Total cache seems to be logical solution. More information regarding the proper configuration can be found here in this post:
WordPress and CDN
CDN nowadays is a must, especially when speed is top priority. Therefor I strongly suggest CloudFlare of some of the available alternatives. This is content delivery network primarily focused on static cache optimisation. The setup is pretty easy and straight forward. It includes setting up account at the official website and also DNS adjustments of your domain name. Here is how to setup your account:
- Create a new account at the official website
- Login and Click Add site. The button is on the top right corner of the screen
- The system will scan your domain name name and suggest updating name servers. That change can be done from the management area of your domain name registrar.
- After doing this, you will be able to proceed and activate the server
- Generating cache may take up to 24 hours
Even the free service offers a number of advantages. The main ones of them are :
- Detailed analysis of the traffic
- DNS management
- Secure connections are also supported
- Auto minify options
- Firewall and page rule settings
- Cache management utilities
- Additional network protocols such as RailGun, HTTP/2 + SPDY, WebSockets and True-Client-IP Header