Skip to content

WordPress Recommendations

  • by

Tweaking your WordPress Installation

This is a list of plugins and services that we recommend.  Most of these can be installed pretty easily from your WordPress control panel by clicking a couple of buttons, but if you are intimidated by this just open a support ticket and we will happily help perform the installation for you, free of charge.

Get more from LS-Cache

We run the LiteSpeed web server here, and all WordPress users should install the free Litespeed Cache plugin.  This tool helps WordPress coordinate directly with the web server for optimal performance, and other services like image optimization and use of the QUIC.cloud content delivery network are built in.  These services are free simply because you are our client, and implementing these features will result in faster load times for your users and better rankings in search engines, as page load times factor into rankings.  

As with most issues, we will configure this for you for free if you ask.

with no additional effort on your part.  The next time one of your web pages is served it will be loaded into the cache, and future requests will be served directly from memory. 

If you prefer we can install this automatically for you.

Please note that this plugin caches data on our server so your pages can be served faster.  If you are looking for

Install an Image Optimizer

Page rankings and your users’ experience is directly related to how fast your pages load.  Smaller files on your page mean that your page loads that  much faster.  It makes a lot of sense to install an application that optimizes your files automatically so you don’t need to think about it.

reSmush.it is a decent choice for most sites.  It’s free, works with images up to 5MB in size, and just works – install it from the plugins page of your WordPress dashboard, activate it, and enjoy smaller photos.

The photo of the reSmush.it plugin above was reduced by about half automatically; the one of LS-Cache was reduced by close to eighty percent. 

A few points to note:

  • reSmush.it uses local resources to manipulate your images rather than uploading it to another server (that you pay to use) and optimizing the image there.  That means there will be a delay of a few seconds after each upload as this process is performed.
  • If you want to upload a lot of photos and don’t care to wait for optimization to happen in real-time, you can check the box in the settings panel to “Process images on CRON.”  Cron is a scheduling utility, and if you check this then images will be optimized periodically in the background instead of after each upload.
  • If you have a ton of photos already, you will need to go into settings and tell it to process your existing images.

 

Simplify Maintenance with ManageWP

If you ask us to handle updates for you this is the plugin we will use.  You install the plugin from within WordPress, then find the connection string and pass that to us via a support ticket (never in e-mail!) and we can manage things for you along with all the other sites we manage.

We use this tool because it allows us to update WordPress safely.  When updates are performed:

  • A new backup of your site is made.
  • A screenshot of your site is taken.
  • The update is performed.
  • A new screenshot is taken.
  • If the site changed, it gives us the opportunity to roll back the changes to the backup made a minute before, or resolve the issue ourselves.

 

WordPress updates rarely fail – probably only one time in a hundred – but it does happen.  This gives us a much safer way to manage WordPress for our customers.

Disadvantages:

  • The free version does not off the safe update described above – that costs $2 per month (a fee we absorb if you ask us to manage your installation – it’s a part of your monthly fee).
  • This company has been bought by Godaddy.  Some are unhappy with Godaddy’s business practices, but so far this service has remained unchanged and still offers a significant value.

Increase Security and Performance with Cloudflare

Cloudflare in useful in two main ways:

  • It offers a free content delivery network, so static elements on your site (like images) will be stored in dozens of servers around the world, and people viewing your site will load that content from the server closest to them.  This can improve speed noticeably.
  • It protects against DDOS attacks.  DDOS (distributed denial of service) is an attack that doesn’t compromise the server; rather it sends more traffic to the server from all over the world than your bandwidth can handle, and as a result your server goes offline. 

Cloudflare does this by transferring your DNS settings from our DNS to theirs, and all future connections to your site will end up using Cloudflare’s network as an intermediary in the future. 

So users will no longer connect directly to your site, rather they will connect to Cloudflare which will serve the files it caches directly, and Cloudflare will connect to your server behind the scenes for all the non-cached data.

It sounds like it adds complexity and has to slow things down, but it doesn’t.  It works quite well, and is recommended.

Easy Web Design with Elementor

This is less a strong recommendation, and more something you should consider if you are deisgning your own site.

WordPress supports lots of themes out of the box, but for the most part they all look like WordPress.  If you are looking for a design that you can make your own, Elementor allows you to do that, and the Pro version offers some nice improvements.  It’s worth the cost if you are interested in the functionality.

Elementor does not feel like WordPress so it can be confusing at first.  If you decide to try this out we strongly recommend watching a tutorial or two on Youtube to get a better feel for the product and some of its less intuitive features.

The most noticeable downside of Elementor is it requires some java-script files to be loaded in the viewers browser in order for everything to work, and this can not be set to load after the main page elements load, so your page speed numbers will go down a bit.  If you are hosting with us you will still see great page load times – just know that this throws up a hurdle to get over if you are going to spend the time to really optimize things.