W3 Total Cache Plugin : Speed Up Your Website:
Avoid annoying users with longer wait times, using this plugin :
Ever been on a website that takes so long to load, you actually feel like closing it after 10 seconds? Some people might be used to slower internet connections and slower load times, but you shouldn’t rely on that. Every visitor you’ve lost this way can translate to sales losses if you run an online business, which basically means that you’re losing money and interest on your website, all because it takes too long to load. That is a problem that needs to be remedied.
Now having in mind that we can’t force the user to have a faster connection , and sometimes that’s not even possible (especially if your user is in a different continent physically) we need to figure out a way to speed up our website. We’ll be using an age-old concept in the computer world – caching.
What caching actually does , is to make sure that the user has information from the first load of the page kept into their browser, so that each time the visitor requests a page on your website, all the information that is still the same is not transferred over the network, but picked up from the browser. This has immense effects on the loading speeds, but has one single drawback – any update you’ve done to the page (e.g. if you’ve changed your site’s logo) will not immediately appear in the user’s browser, because of the fact that the user has the cached version. This , however, is a small price to pay compared to the great benefits we get from caching.
Caching also happens on the server-side, because the server has to pre-fetch any and all information before sending it to the user. There’s also database caching, which happens when information is pulled out from the database. This too can be set and used to our advantage.
If we don’t have much coding experience, we’ll need a tool that does it for us, namely the W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress.
W3 Total Cache Plugin :
The instant after installing the W3 Cache Plugin, we need to make sure it’s being run on our website. That’s why , you ought to click on the button in General Settings that says “Deploy”, to change from preview mode to live mode, in which the plugin does it’s job. The actual benefits come from the particular feature settings , which are the following:
- Minifying your website
This handy feature has nothing to do with cache, but does another nifty optimization, which is why we’ll discuss it here. A lot of the website’s code uses whitespace (line feeds, tab characters, empty spaces) in order to make the code more readable. But that extra whitespace costs us memory, because the position of each whitespace is stored as a character, even though we don’t see it. Minify removes the whitespace, thus drastically reducing the website’s size and making it faster to load, so it’s safe to say it’s a good bargain, if you don’t plan on reading any code on your website.
- Browser Cache optimization :
This is what we talked about earlier – it uses the advanced capabilities of browsers to our advantage, by optimizing browser caching. You can check all of the settings , and that will likely yield a faster page load in no time. W3 Total Cache does a great job with that feature.
- Page Cache & Database Cache :
These two improve the caching on the server-side by using advanced code optimizations. It’s very useful to have, and it will immensely speed up your website. The difference between Page Cache and Database Cache is in the particular thing that’s being optimized – the database or the HTTP server which does the actual communication with the client.
- Content Delivery Network :
This feature requires the most settings, and will likely have the necessity for you to register an account at a CDN network. But what it does is actually very useful. Communication between , let’s say, Europe and Australia is still slower than Europe-Europe communication, even with the modern advancements of the internet. CDN makes sure some of your content is hosted somewhere in Australia too, so that the browsers of users there fetch it faster. Again, a great feature.
- If updates are necessary, you can always go and clear the caches, forcing the updates to reveal to users, and essentially getting rid of the only drawback W3 Total Cache has.
Knowing what you know now, you can install the plugin and have a faster loading page in virtually no time. Try it for yourself, compare the load times before and after, so you can stand in awe of the way W3 Total Cache does its work. Good luck with your blogging endeavors!