Using WordPress Caching Plugins to Improve Load Times

Posted on Jun 25 2014 by in Blog 

The load time of your WordPress site is crucial to the success of your website.  If you want your users to have a great experience, then speed needs to be considered.  This is especially true with more users switching to mobile devices for the majority of their internet browsing.  When you are not aware of certain features, it is easy for your WordPress site to become slower and bogged down by cumbersome processes, from plugins and other built-in features.  One of the simplest ways to speed up your WordPress site is by using a caching plugin.

WordPress is Stored on a Database

Every installation of WordPress stores information on an SQL database.  This database contains all of your website settings, users, passwords, articles, pages, widgets, basically anything that you have added to your site since installing WordPress.  Every time a user visits one of your pages, WordPress creates a page based on the information stored in this database.  This requires the server hosting your site to load multiple PHP files, read various HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code.  It will compile all of this information and present the user with the page that they finally see.  With more plugins and features come more code and a longer load time.

How a Caching Plugin Works

When you use a caching plugin, users will not have to wait for your server to process all the information needed for each page.  Instead, the caching plugin creates a static HTML file of each of your pages.  When a user lands on one of your pages, they are served the static HTML file, instead of having to wait for all the processes normally required.  This will dramatically cut down on load times for most WordPress sites.

Most caching plugins will serve these static HTML files to all visitors, except users that are signed into your WordPress site or those that have left a comment.  When finding a caching plugin, check to see what features it provides.  Some of these WordPress plugins will also cache search result pages of your site, such as each of the pages for your categories and tags.  There will also be options available that may let you decide what types of pages to cache.  For example you may not want to cache your homepage, if you are constantly serving dynamic content.

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Most Popular WordPress Caching Plugins

To make the process of choosing a good plugin easier, there are two WordPress caching plugins that are the most popular.  W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are used on more WordPress sites than any of the other caching plugins.  They are also both free, so there is no cost involved in speeding up your WordPress site.  Both of these plugins are regularly updated and will work on the latest release of WordPress.

Limit the download times needed for your WordPress site and use a caching plugin to provide a better user experience.  Without changing themes or removing plugins, you can see a significant improvement in load times.