Category Archives: Web sites design and software development

Web sites design and software development

Why WordPress is still the most popular CMS choice for websites. WordPress has been around for quite some time now – 16 years to be precise. In the time since its initial release back in 2003, it’s become the most popular CMS (content management system) for everyone looking to build a website. In fact, almost 56% of the entire internet runs on WordPress. And the platform claims almost half of the entire CMS market. So you can really argue its dominance. There are a number of advantages to using WordPress that have allowed it to stay ahead of other CMS out there. Now we’re exploring the five critical factors that have helped the platform maintain its reign on the web. 1. It’s open source and free. This is probably the biggest reason why WordPress is the most popular CMS. First off, it’s free to download and free to use, so you’re saving money from the get go. There’s more to it than that though. It’s also open source which means it’s constantly up-to-date and and upgraded. There have been 53 major versions since its inception , with new updates released every five months on average. Despite being around for over a 15 years, WordPress is still the fastest growing CMS with over 700 new websites being developed every day on the platform. Every second, 25 users hit the “Publish” button on a new blog post they’ve uploaded onto WordPress. 2. It’s very easy to use. WordPress CMS is very user friendly. If you spend a couple of hours exploring the backend of a website built on WordPress, you’ll see just how easy it is to use. One huge advantage is that it needs little to no coding skills, unlike different content management systems like Drupal. If you have some basic HTML knowledge, you can perform almost any task with WordPress. This is what really sets it apart and makes it the most popular CMS. Because anyone can just install it and start using it straight away. According to recent data, 50% of users in the US work with WordPress . With the runners-up Drupal and Joomla barley making up half that figure combined. 3. It’s SEO-friendly. 4. It’s highly customizable. Another reason why WordPress has become the most popular CMS over the years. You can use it to build any type of website imaginable. WordPress powers 22% of the top 100 websites in the world. It’s extremely versatile and highly customizable. Therefore, you can use it to build anything from simple blog-style websites and portfolios to more complex e-commerce sites and large-scale government websites. 5. It has a plugin for almost everything. There are more than 120,000 different open source plugins you can install to add value to a WordPress website. You can find everything from anti-spam filters, SEO tools, popup modules and interactive image plugins online. Many of these plugins are also free and constantly updated by a community of dedicated professionals. A complete toolkit for Advanced WordPress Users. As time flew by, WordPress has grown and evolved into a sprawling and complex platform. Thus, advanced users need plenty of moving parts to use and manage their projects successfully. Thanks to software like the WordPress Toolkit by Plesk , you can quickly upgrade your WordPress experience. Hence, simplifying the work that goes into setting up, securing and maintaining your websites. This is thanks to the centralized dashboard where you can monitor several WordPress instances at the same time. It also lets you implement changes across multiple instances at the same time, saving you the hassle of having to do this manually. This also applies to updates and by enabling maintenance mode you can update everything simultaneously. On the SEO front, you can enable site indexing for search engines too. And even disable it for those instances where you don’t want Google to crawl your site.

How to optimize your WordPress installation.

Overview

Many of our users run WordPress either as a CMS or blog platform. With a lot of great plugins available, it’s easy to create a full-featured website with a lot of neat functionality. These plugins however, can insert additional CSS and JavaScript files into your header which can hurt your site’s performance (and PageSpeed and YSlow scores).

How does your WordPress site score?

We’ve listed some plugins and written some recommendations for our WordPress users seeking optimization help.

Note: These plugins address mainly front-end optimization issues only. If your site still takes a long time to load, an improved server or back-end code optimizations is what will make a real difference.

(Optional First Step) Install and activate GTmetrix for WordPress

Use this plugin to get a before snapshot of your WP performance.

Alternative: Log in and analyze your site on GTmetrix.com – You’ll be able to keep track of it better with History graphs.

Note: We are currently working on a maintenance update of GTmetrix for WordPress. While it hasn’t been updated in a while, it has been tested web sites design and software development still works for the latest version of WordPress, excluding some small formatting issues.

Once you’ve installed it, enter your API key from your GTmetrix account in the Settings page (you must be registered to generate an API key).

After this is done, visit “Tests” and under the “Latest Front Page Score” module, click “Test your Front Page now” button.

A report will be generated with PageSpeed and YSlow grades for the front page of your WordPress site.

This is your before performance

Step 1) Install and activate UpdraftPlus.

It’s critical that you backup your WordPress installation before optimization (and on a regular basis!). UpdraftPlus provides a simple and effective way to backup your entire WordPress install, including your database, plugins, themes, uploads, and more.

a) Backup your WordPress installation.

Under the “Settings” section in your WordPress sidebar, you’ll have access to a new menu option called “UpdraftsPlus Backups.”

Click “Backup Now” – a popup will appear. Ensure that both “Include the database in the backup” and “Include any files in the backup” options are checked.

Click “Backup Now” – UpdraftPlus will create a complete backup of your WordPress installation. If anything goes wrong with the optimization, or if your installation gets hacked or corrupted – you can restore using your backups.

That’s it for UpdraftPlus settings!

Step 2) Scale your images (Optional)

If your GTmetrix report indicates that you need to Serve scaled images, follow this guide we wrote on how to optimize images – specifically steps 2 to 4.

In WordPress, you can insert smaller sized images based on what WordPress has generated for you.

Basically, you do not want to serve images that are larger in dimensions than what your user needs to display. Learn more about image optimization here.

Step 3) Install and activate WP Smush (Smush Image Compression and Optimization)

Under the “Media” section in your WordPress sidebar, you’ll have access to a new menu option called “WP Smush”

In this section, ensure that the “Auto-Smush Images on upload” feature is checked. The plugin will now optimize every image you upload henceforth since you activated it.

Next, smush all of the images in your Media Library by clicking on “Bulk Smush 50 Attachments” (The free version of the plugin is limited to bulk smushing 50 attachments at a time. You’ll need to revisit this page and bulk smush the next 50 attachments).

That’s it for WP Smush! If you want more details on options like optimizing images outside of your Media Library, read our How to Optimize Images: A Practical Guide article.

Step 4) Install and activate WP Fastest Cache.

On the sidebar, you’ll notice a new option called “WP Fastest Cache.”

a) Enable the following settings:

Cache System Enable caching for faster delivery of pages. Preload Upon clicking this, you’ll get a popup telling you which pages to cache. Check all of them and leave the “pages per minute” at 4 – click “OK”. You may need to reduce this number if your hosting service complains.

Logged-in Users Ensures that if you’ve logged in, you see the actual state of your pages, not the cached versions. Minify HTML* Compresses HTML and reduces file size. Minify CSS* Compresses CSS and reduces file size. Combine CSS* Joins your CSS files into a single CSS resource, reducing number of HTTP requests. Combine JS* Joins your JavaScript files into a single JS resource, reducing number of HTTP requests. Gzip Further compress your pages to be smaller in file size and faster to download. Browser Caching Helps with the Leverage browser caching recommendation.

Click “Submit” when you’re done.

That’s it for the WP Fastest Cache settings!

Important notes

Minification and Combining.

Minifying and combining HTML/CSS/JavaScript can break functionality in your website. Minification essentially goes through your scripts are removes extraneous data like comments, formatting, whitespace and other things that computers don’t need to read. Combining takes the contents of each individual script and aggregates them all into a single script.

Because these processes modify data, they sometimes break functionality due to coding typos, syntax errors, duplicate function names, etc.

Make sure to check your site functionality after enabling the minification/combining features. If you find things are broken, disable all minification/combining features, and re-enable them one-by-one to find which feature is causing the issue.

If your hosting environment supports HTTP/2, combination of scripts is not needed, as the HTTP/2 protocol supports multiplexing – essentially allowing multiple downloads using a single TCP connection (as to only 6 parallel connections in HTTP/1.x.)

Page Caching.

Whenever you make major changes to the site, like adding a plugin or modifying the CSS/theme, its recommended to delete the cache and preload it again to ensure you’re serving the latest version of the site. You can find the option to delete the cache in WP Fastest Cache in the “Delete Cache” tab.

WP Fastest Cache will automatically preload the cache again after you’ve deleted it. New content like posts or pages do not require you to delete the cache.

Step 5) Analyze your site.

Analyze your site again and see the difference in performance!

You should see improvements in the following metrics:

Fully loaded time/Onload time Total Page Size Requests PageSpeed/YSlow scores Serve scaled images Optimize images Leverage browser caching Minify CSS/HTML Enable gzip compression Make fewer HTTP requests.

Your mileage may vary! Due to the varying nature of WordPress installations, plugin usage and hosting environments, you may not be able to considerably affect all of the above metrics. Things like third-party resources (Facebook widgets, YouTube embeds, etc) and ads can still heavily affect your score.

Summary

After testing and playing around with many similar plugins, we’ve found that the combination of WP Fastest Cache , image scaling and WP Smush provides the most effective and simplest way to improve the performance of your WordPress website.

Take a look at the difference in our test blog – Comparison here:

If you have a WordPress blog, slow or not, give this guide a try and improve your user’s experience!

Plugin List

GTmetrix for WordPress (optional)

We created this plugin to help you actively keep track of your WP install and send you alerts if your site falls below certain criteria. More on GTmetrix for WordPress.

UpdraftPlus

This plugin provides complete backups to your WordPress installation, including the database, plugins, themes, and uploads. Critical for restoration in case you need to roll back to a previous state.

WP Smush

This plugin optimizes every image uploaded and removes extraneous information from your images. This will optimize every image in your Media Library and helps with PageSpeed’s Optimize images recommendation.

WP Fastest Cache

This plugin adds page caching onto your WordPress install which helps us with back-end performance issues and addresses a few front-end recommendations as well. It also features a cache preloader that crawls your site and preps your cache.

Why WordPress is still the most popular CMS choice for websites. WordPress has been around for quite some time now – 16 years to be precise. In the time since its initial release back in 2003, it’s become the most popular CMS (content management system) for everyone looking to build a website. In fact, almost 56% of the entire internet runs on WordPress. And the platform claims almost half of the entire CMS market. So you can really argue its dominance. There are a number of advantages to using WordPress that have allowed it to stay ahead of other CMS out there. Now we’re exploring the five critical factors that have helped the platform maintain its reign on the web. 1. It’s open source and free. This is probably the biggest reason why WordPress is the most popular CMS. First off, it’s free to download and free to use, so you’re saving money from the get go. There’s more to it than that though. It’s also open source which means it’s constantly up-to-date and and upgraded. There have been 53 major versions since its inception , with new updates released every five months on average. Despite being around for over a 15 years, WordPress is still the fastest growing CMS with over 700 new websites being developed every day on the platform. Every second, 25 users hit the “Publish” button on a new blog post they’ve uploaded onto WordPress. 2. It’s very easy to use. WordPress CMS is very user friendly. If you spend a couple of hours exploring the backend of a website built on WordPress, you’ll see just how easy it is to use. One huge advantage is that it needs little to no coding skills, unlike different content management systems like Drupal. If you have some basic HTML knowledge, you can perform almost any task with WordPress. This is what really sets it apart and makes it the most popular CMS. Because anyone can just install it and start using it straight away. According to recent data, 50% of users in the US work with WordPress . With the runners-up Drupal and Joomla barley making up half that figure combined. 3. It’s SEO-friendly. 4. It’s highly customizable. Another reason why WordPress has become the most popular CMS over the years. You can use it to build any type of website imaginable. WordPress powers 22% of the top 100 websites in the world. It’s extremely versatile and highly customizable. Therefore, you can use it to build anything from simple blog-style websites and portfolios to more complex e-commerce sites and large-scale government websites. 5. It has a plugin for almost everything. There are more than 120,000 different open source plugins you can install to add value to a WordPress website. You can find everything from anti-spam filters, SEO tools, popup modules and interactive image plugins online. Many of these plugins are also free and constantly updated by a community of dedicated professionals. A complete toolkit for Advanced WordPress Users. As time flew by, WordPress has grown and evolved into a sprawling and complex platform. Thus, advanced users need plenty of moving parts to use and manage their projects successfully. Thanks to software like the WordPress Toolkit by Plesk , you can quickly upgrade your WordPress experience. Hence, simplifying the work that goes into setting up, securing and maintaining your websites. This is thanks to the centralized dashboard where you can monitor several WordPress instances at the same time. It also lets you implement changes across multiple instances at the same time, saving you the hassle of having to do this manually. This also applies to updates and by enabling maintenance mode you can update everything simultaneously. On the SEO front, you can enable site indexing for search engines too. And even disable it for those instances where you don’t want Google to crawl your site.

How to optimize your WordPress installation.

Overview

Many of our users run WordPress either as a CMS or blog platform. With a lot of great plugins available, it’s easy to create a full-featured website with a lot of neat functionality. These plugins however, can insert additional CSS and JavaScript files into your header which can hurt your site’s performance (and PageSpeed and YSlow scores).

How does your WordPress site score?

We’ve listed some plugins and written some recommendations for our WordPress users seeking optimization help.

Note: These plugins address mainly front-end optimization issues only. If your site still takes a long time to load, an improved server or back-end code optimizations is what will make a real difference.

(Optional First Step) Install and activate GTmetrix for WordPress

Use this plugin to get a before snapshot of your WP performance.

Alternative: Log in and analyze your site on GTmetrix.com – You’ll be able to keep track of it better with History graphs.

Note: We are currently working on a maintenance update of GTmetrix for WordPress. While it hasn’t been updated in a while, it has been tested web sites design and software development still works for the latest version of WordPress, excluding some small formatting issues.

Once you’ve installed it, enter your API key from your GTmetrix account in the Settings page (you must be registered to generate an API key).

After this is done, visit “Tests” and under the “Latest Front Page Score” module, click “Test your Front Page now” button.

A report will be generated with PageSpeed and YSlow grades for the front page of your WordPress site.

This is your before performance

Step 1) Install and activate UpdraftPlus.

It’s critical that you backup your WordPress installation before optimization (and on a regular basis!). UpdraftPlus provides a simple and effective way to backup your entire WordPress install, including your database, plugins, themes, uploads, and more.

a) Backup your WordPress installation.

Under the “Settings” section in your WordPress sidebar, you’ll have access to a new menu option called “UpdraftsPlus Backups.”

Click “Backup Now” – a popup will appear. Ensure that both “Include the database in the backup” and “Include any files in the backup” options are checked.

Click “Backup Now” – UpdraftPlus will create a complete backup of your WordPress installation. If anything goes wrong with the optimization, or if your installation gets hacked or corrupted – you can restore using your backups.

That’s it for UpdraftPlus settings!

Step 2) Scale your images (Optional)

If your GTmetrix report indicates that you need to Serve scaled images, follow this guide we wrote on how to optimize images – specifically steps 2 to 4.

In WordPress, you can insert smaller sized images based on what WordPress has generated for you.

Basically, you do not want to serve images that are larger in dimensions than what your user needs to display. Learn more about image optimization here.

Step 3) Install and activate WP Smush (Smush Image Compression and Optimization)

Under the “Media” section in your WordPress sidebar, you’ll have access to a new menu option called “WP Smush”

In this section, ensure that the “Auto-Smush Images on upload” feature is checked. The plugin will now optimize every image you upload henceforth since you activated it.

Next, smush all of the images in your Media Library by clicking on “Bulk Smush 50 Attachments” (The free version of the plugin is limited to bulk smushing 50 attachments at a time. You’ll need to revisit this page and bulk smush the next 50 attachments).

That’s it for WP Smush! If you want more details on options like optimizing images outside of your Media Library, read our How to Optimize Images: A Practical Guide article.

Step 4) Install and activate WP Fastest Cache.

On the sidebar, you’ll notice a new option called “WP Fastest Cache.”

a) Enable the following settings:

Cache System Enable caching for faster delivery of pages. Preload Upon clicking this, you’ll get a popup telling you which pages to cache. Check all of them and leave the “pages per minute” at 4 – click “OK”. You may need to reduce this number if your hosting service complains.

Logged-in Users Ensures that if you’ve logged in, you see the actual state of your pages, not the cached versions. Minify HTML* Compresses HTML and reduces file size. Minify CSS* Compresses CSS and reduces file size. Combine CSS* Joins your CSS files into a single CSS resource, reducing number of HTTP requests. Combine JS* Joins your JavaScript files into a single JS resource, reducing number of HTTP requests. Gzip Further compress your pages to be smaller in file size and faster to download. Browser Caching Helps with the Leverage browser caching recommendation.

Click “Submit” when you’re done.

That’s it for the WP Fastest Cache settings!

Important notes

Minification and Combining.

Minifying and combining HTML/CSS/JavaScript can break functionality in your website. Minification essentially goes through your scripts are removes extraneous data like comments, formatting, whitespace and other things that computers don’t need to read. Combining takes the contents of each individual script and aggregates them all into a single script.

Because these processes modify data, they sometimes break functionality due to coding typos, syntax errors, duplicate function names, etc.

Make sure to check your site functionality after enabling the minification/combining features. If you find things are broken, disable all minification/combining features, and re-enable them one-by-one to find which feature is causing the issue.

If your hosting environment supports HTTP/2, combination of scripts is not needed, as the HTTP/2 protocol supports multiplexing – essentially allowing multiple downloads using a single TCP connection (as to only 6 parallel connections in HTTP/1.x.)

Page Caching.

Whenever you make major changes to the site, like adding a plugin or modifying the CSS/theme, its recommended to delete the cache and preload it again to ensure you’re serving the latest version of the site. You can find the option to delete the cache in WP Fastest Cache in the “Delete Cache” tab.

WP Fastest Cache will automatically preload the cache again after you’ve deleted it. New content like posts or pages do not require you to delete the cache.

Step 5) Analyze your site.

Analyze your site again and see the difference in performance!

You should see improvements in the following metrics:

Fully loaded time/Onload time Total Page Size Requests PageSpeed/YSlow scores Serve scaled images Optimize images Leverage browser caching Minify CSS/HTML Enable gzip compression Make fewer HTTP requests.

Your mileage may vary! Due to the varying nature of WordPress installations, plugin usage and hosting environments, you may not be able to considerably affect all of the above metrics. Things like third-party resources (Facebook widgets, YouTube embeds, etc) and ads can still heavily affect your score.

Summary

After testing and playing around with many similar plugins, we’ve found that the combination of WP Fastest Cache , image scaling and WP Smush provides the most effective and simplest way to improve the performance of your WordPress website.

Take a look at the difference in our test blog – Comparison here:

If you have a WordPress blog, slow or not, give this guide a try and improve your user’s experience!

Plugin List

GTmetrix for WordPress (optional)

We created this plugin to help you actively keep track of your WP install and send you alerts if your site falls below certain criteria. More on GTmetrix for WordPress.

UpdraftPlus

This plugin provides complete backups to your WordPress installation, including the database, plugins, themes, and uploads. Critical for restoration in case you need to roll back to a previous state.

WP Smush

This plugin optimizes every image uploaded and removes extraneous information from your images. This will optimize every image in your Media Library and helps with PageSpeed’s Optimize images recommendation.

WP Fastest Cache

This plugin adds page caching onto your WordPress install which helps us with back-end performance issues and addresses a few front-end recommendations as well. It also features a cache preloader that crawls your site and preps your cache.