Favorite WordPress Plugins: W3 Total Cache

Written by Samantha Pointer

On May 29, 2019

Everyone wants a speedy website. A fast website means happy customers and happy customers mean repeat customers. Even Google pays attention to your site’s speed and has even started penalizing slow sites in their search results and no one wants that.

To test the speed of your website you can use tools such as Google Page Speed Test, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. Perform a speed test before taking any actions to increase the page speed. Once you have taken steps to increase the speed of your website, perform the test once more to see the difference. These sites will also give you suggestions on how to improve your site’s speed and if you use WordPress to run your website a plugin like W3 Total Cache can fix most of them.

What is W3 Total Cache?

W3 Total Cache is a web performance optimization WordPress plugin. It has been around for a long time and has a 4.5 star rating in the WordPress plugin repository. While W3 Total Cache boasts numerous benefits, it’s biggest benefit is the decreased load time of a WordPress website.

The biggest features of W3 Total Cache include:

●     SSL Support

●     Content Management Delivery Support

●     Caching of not only pages, but categories, comments, Javascript, CSS, search results, database objects, and more

●     Minification of Javascript, CSS, and posts/pages,

Installing W3 Total Cache

Installing W3 Total Cache works just like any other WordPress plugin. In the administration area under the New Plugin option simply search for W3 Total Cache and click on the install and activate buttons. Setting the plugin up does take a little thought but it is not hard or complicated to do. There are just a lot of options. I promise it’s not as intimidating as it looks.

The first task to take, under the general settings tab for the plugin, is to make sure Page Cache is enabled so W3 Total Cache can do its job. Cache is a collection of your website pages that is saved and then shown to visitors as they visit the page reducing download speeds. This will allow W3 Total Cache to create the static pages needed to reduce the load time of your website. For a beginner or website with low traffic this is probably all you need to do in order to speed up your website and all the configuration needed.

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If after enabling the Page cache you need your website speed still seems slow, you may want to take further steps by minifying your Javascript and CSS files. This will remove all the extra white space in the code so it’s less lines to process in the browser. Google defines minification as the “process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser – e.g. code comments and formatting, removing unused code, using shorter variable and function names, and so on.” You turn this feature on in W3 Total Cache under the setting’s Minify menu option. Just click the enable checkboxes for HTML, JS, and CSS. Be sure to remember to save your settings.

If after enabling cache and turning on minification of Javascript and CSS files, you still feel like your site is running slow, then W3 Total Cache also works with CDNs – content delivery networks.

According to CloudFlare a CDN “refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.” There are numerous CDNs available so do you homework and research before choosing one.

Other items to consider when troubleshooting a slow site is the size of images being used and the WordPress database itself.  Both can be optimized. Also check to make sure your site is secure and hasn’t been compromised.

Overall W3 Total Cache is an excellent WordPress plugin to help enhance your website’s speed.

Featured Image by alan9187 from Pixabay
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