WordPress powers more than 60 million websites, and it’s the most popular blog CMS platform in the world. The WordPress interface is intuitive and easy-to-use, the platform dynamic and highly extendable, which makes it perfect for developers, webmasters, and end-users. For all its greatness, however, WordPress (like all content management systems) can face issues with load times. Without getting too technical, that’s primarily because so many objects, functions and other data are being called upon simultaneously whenever a page is loaded. To decrease load times, cache your WordPress site.
What does caching do? Essentially, caching creates a coded “snapshot” of your WordPress pages; then, it serves them as static files (versus dynamic). That makes your site load significantly faster. This, of course, is an oversimplified explanation, and different caching engines work in different ways. I’m no developer, and I can’t explain to you the technical features of caching; what I can do, however, is say that caching your WordPress can make load hundreds of times quicker.
So how do you cache your WordPress website if you have little to no technical skill? Simple – install any WordPress caching plugin. The two most popular are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, though there are several others available as well, including: Lite Cache, WP Fast Cache, Hyper Cache and Quick Cache.
Each of these plugins has its own nuances for cache handling. My pick is W3 Total Cache, which boasts an extensive host of different caching tools and options. It also integrates with CDNs – content delivery networks, which further improve load speed in some situations. You might not need all the options available in W3 Total Cache, so it’s a good idea to explore all options before choosing a WordPress cache plugin.
Also, keep in mind that caching can have negative consequences on other plugins. Some features of Jetpack, for example, require W3 Total Cache’s minify engine to be disabled.
Kim Tetzlaff offers an excellent comparison between three popular WordPress cache plugins at Dashboard Junkie, and concludes that W3 Total Cache offers the best performance. However, that was for one URL, which has its own specific environment. Your own configuration might benefit more from a different caching option.
If you learn more about caching your WordPress site and everything makes sense, you should be well-equipped to make the best choice for your situation. If it all looks Greek to you, it might be a good idea to hire an expert to help you make the best choice – or even to install, configure and test your cache plugin. Investing a few dollars on a professional service might save you hours, expense and headaches down the road.
Regardless of your skill level, if you want your WordPress site to perform better and load faster, you should consider a cache plugin. The faster you site, the greater its usability – and the more you can profit from it. Amazon, for example, calculated that if its pages loaded just one second slower, they would lose $1.6 billion in annual sales.
In this case, time literally is money.
Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint