WordPress Speed-Up and Debugging Tips

AS I wrote in my earlier post, WordCamp Orlando 2013 was a very informative event for me. Much more informative in fact than some of the very expensive private conference training sessions. The open source community, especially the WordPress crowd, is more open to sharing their suggestions and ideas.

With that said, here is the summary of all the wonderful tidbits gathered at the event. I will try to broadly classify these below for easy reading.

PHP Debugging (graduate from var_dump)

1. USE IDE  (alternative to Sublime or Textmate)

2. Configure

3. Enable XDEBUG

4. Set Breakpoint

5. Load Page

When the speaker did a live demo of this debugging session using PHPStorm, it seemed like there was a whole new level to debugging PHP.  His recommendation was PHPStorm.

Performance and Speed Up Techniques

The speaker, Hristo, suggested the following tools for checking speed. He emphasized that you must measure your page speed first before, during and after any changes you make. In other words, speed checking tools are your friend(s).

  1. gtmetrix.com
  2. tools.pingdom.com

With these two tools, you are armed with the power of quantifiable measurement.

In addition, Hristo also provided the following pointers.

  1. Make a scroll map test (crazyegg.com).

  2. Reduce the number of posts per page

  3. Progressive page loading (infinite scroll)

I have done #2 of the above list and it has made a marked improvement.

Hristo also advised against going overboard with Social Media widgets and/or plugins. The reason is that these widgets/plugins will ping their respective servers, thereby inadvertently delaying the page loading for your site. Particularly, do not use IFRAME. The recommendation is to use one plugin that covers all the social networks (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc), instead of a separate plugin for each network.

He also suggested including only the fonts that you use to be loaded for each page.  Place fonts on your server locally and include them.


  1. Use images with right sizes and specify dimensions.
  2. Smush your images using the WP Smush-It plugin from Yahoo.
  3. Use sprites in your themes

CSS and JS

  1. Minify your CSS and JavaScript files, using W3 Total Cache plugin


Use .htaccess rules intead of plugins: http://kb.siteground.com/enable-gzip-via-htaccess/

Leverage Browser Caching

The .htaccess rules: http://kb.siteground.com/leverage-browser-caching

Use a CDN Service

  • Measure if your site is working faster

  • Even local business can take advantage by the CDN

  • Bonus: “Always Online” service

Cache your content

  • Use opcode caching – APC, xCache

  • Use Memcached object cashing

  • User reverse proxies like Varnish, nGinx

Presentation Slides available at:


Plugin Performance Profiler (P3 Plugin Analyzer) allows you to check plugin performance.

This last point about the P3 plugin is the most valuable piece. If there is one plugin you have to use for performance, this is the one. This will quickly tell you which of your plugins is having a detrimental effect on your page load times.

I would like to hear your thoughts on tips and techniques that you have employed in speeding up WordPress.

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