This article assumes that you already have WordPress installed on your Website Hosting space as well as have it secured. If you do not currently have WordPress locked down feel free to follow our security guide at Securing WordPress
Now you’ve got your WordPress set up and toughened up, let’s continue by ensuring it’s running at its best possible performance using some very handy plugins. But before we get to work with this it’s important to understand exactly why it’s important to do this, and hopefully, we’ll learn a little about the technology used along the way.
Why is speed so important? Simply put, visitors do not want to be sitting around waiting between clicks on websites – it’s become uncommon to be waiting more than two or three seconds for a page to be completely loaded. Having quicker loading pages also increases your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which we’ll take a deeper look into later on in the article series and how to increase it further!
The main addon we’ll be installing on this tutorial is “W3 Total Cache”. This plugin works by storing a temporary copy of your pages, or “caching” them. How does this help? Currently, whenever someone visits your WordPress website, the host server has to load all your WordPress scripts and run through them all to generate a page – all this before it can even begin sending the page out to the user’s web browser. Caching certain elements of the web page means that those elements can simply be sent to the website visitor’s browser, skipping the time needed to generate all the page.
Although caching is a VERY common practice (In fact, our servers are caching this page as well as your very own computer caching it too!) it’s not without its flaws. If you’ve just updated an article or page and notice the changes haven’t taken effect then you’ve hit the most common issue! This is happening because the cached version is a copy of the old content – you need to update this cache; W3 Total Cache makes it easy to “purge” this cache so that the new content can be cached.
Let’s get started with Optimising WordPress.
Just like last time, begin by logging into your WordPress admin area. The default “wp-admin” area shouldn’t exist now, as you did change this in the Securing WordPress article, right? Now navigate to “Plugins” and click “add new” – You’ll then be shown the page as pictured below, where you should search for “W3 Total Cache” as highlighted in the image.
You should then be taken to the results page, which is pictured below – the first result should be the correct plugin. Next click the “Install now” link as highlighted below, which will then start downloading the package files for your new plugin and then installing them to the correct folders automatically. When the install has finished, click the “Activate Plugin” link.
Now you should be taken to the enabled plugin lists. From here you should click the “Settings” link under “W3 Total Cache” which will then take you to the page as shown in the screenshot below. You should use the table provided below the image to set the correct options. Remember to click “Save all settings” after completing the Browser Cache (or CloudFlare if applicable) Configuration.
|Page Cache||Enabled||Method should be set to “Disk: Enhanced”, if Alternative PHP cache is available, choose this option.|
|Minify||Disabled||This option often conflicts with custom made themes, only enable if you’re experienced with CSS/HTML.|
|Database Cache||Enabled||Method should be set to “Disk” if Alternative PHP cache is available to choose this option.|
|Object Cache||Enabled||Method should be set to “Disk” if Alternative PHP cache is available to choose this option.|
|CDN||Disabled||This option can be enabled if you have a CDN provider or a CloudVPS with us.|
|CloudFlare||Disabled||This can be enabled and set up if you have a CloudFlare account (This may be covered in a future article).|
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