When your website takes a while to load, there are a few thoughts that may cross your visitors’ minds:
“Am I even on the right site? Maybe I’ll give it a couple more seconds.”
“What’s taking so long? I only wanted to schedule a consultation with someone.”
“I’m not waiting for this. I’ll contact another law firm.”
According to Kissmetrics research, the longer it takes a web page to load (even just by a second), the more people your law firm website will lose.
Obviously, you want to avoid that outcome at all costs. You want your website to load as quickly as possible, so that potential (and current) clients can get the information they seek right away.
One of the performance optimization tricks you can use to speed up your website is a caching plugin. Below, we’ll talk a little bit about what caching is and give some recommendations on the best caching plugins for your WordPress site.
What Is Caching?
There are a number of ways you can test your site’s page speed and diagnose the underlying problems with it. Google has a free PageSpeed Insights tool you should start with:
After you run your domain name through the tool, Google will present you with a Page Speed (the number of seconds it takes to load the site) and an Optimization score (how much work is required to fix it).
There are a few things to make note of in this assessment:
- Desktop/Mobile: There are two tabs at the top of this assessment. Be sure to review both so you know how the desktop and mobile experiences perform.
- Page Stats: This tells you how many resources (e.g. pages, files, scripts, images, etc.) your server has to round up and send to every visitor that arrives on the site.
- Optimization Suggestions: These are tips on how to speed up your website. Notice how “Leverage browser caching” is included.
As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to get your website speed in good working order. But today we’re focused on caching.
Think about it like this:
The Takeout Order
You go to the counter of your favorite takeout restaurant and order food for the people in your party. This amounts to 7 burgers, 8 fries, 1 salad, 3 ice cream cones, and 6 soft drinks. The kitchen receives your order and starts preparing each of those items from-scratch, one by-one. Not everything is finished being prepared at once, so it takes 3 total trips for the cashier to get your entire order to you at the counter.
This is similar to what happens when someone tries to access your website.
Visitors enter your URL in their browser. This then asks your server to retrieve the website files and bring them to the browser window. Your server assesses the load, aggregates all of your files, scripts, images, and so on. The larger the files and the greater quantity of them, the longer it takes to get them over to the user’s browser. This is why some websites take so long to load.
Back to the takeout order analogy:
Think about what would have happened if the kitchen had been able to anticipate your order (or, at the very least, the general demand for certain food items). With beef patties on the grill, fresh fries cooking in the fryer, and salad ingredients already chopped, the preparation of your order could be done in no time at all, with your food being served to you quickly and freshly in one fell swoop.
This is similar to what caching enables your server to do.
Caching is a process by which your server saves a copy of your website as a single static file. When someone visits your website, and there have been no changes since that copy was created, your server can deliver the static file to the browser window immediately. When changes are made to the site, the cache clears and the process starts all over again.
In general, web page caching significantly lightens the load on your server and gets content to your visitors in no time at all. To say it’s a really handy tool to have for speeding up websites would be an understatement. However, implementation needs to take place at the server and browser level, which means you can’t do it on your own.
What Are the Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?
Because you’ve built your website in WordPress, there’s an easy solution to this: caching plugins. In essence, these plugins take care of creating this cached copy on your behalf. Depending on which one you use, you can also enjoy other performance optimization privileges.
These are the three best caching plugins for WordPress:
- Caches all content: pages, posts, scripts, feeds, search results, and database objects
- Minifies all files and code
- Includes server and browser caching
This is one of the most comprehensive caching plugin.
- Uses server and browser caching
- Includes other performance optimization tricks like file minification, code combination, and Gzip compression
- More control over which pages are cached and for how long
This caching plugin gives you a greater degree of control over caching.
- Offers three options for website caching: simple, expert, and a custom caching mechanism
- Incredibly easy to configure
- It’s made by the parent company of WordPress so it’s well-supported and safe to use
This is the easiest of the best caching plugins to use.
With one of the best caching plugins installed on your WordPress site, you can enjoy a host of benefits:
- Improved server performance which leaves it free to handle other important tasks
- More visitors as well as engagement with those visitors
- Improved SEO (Google rewards fast sites with higher rankings)
There are, of course, other things to do to keep your WordPress site fully optimized for the user experience as well as for search. If you’re struggling to stay on top of it all, reach out to Trial Law Digital today and let’s see what we can do to help.