High Loading Times =
Google, with their emphasis on Site Speed and loading times, has made it clear to website owners that slow sites will not be tolerated!
While it’s very challenging for a WordPress blog to hit (or be under) the preferred 2 second mark, unless it’s only running a theme and no plugins… by the time we layer on some fancy-dancy plugins these sites can get downright slow!
While Google’s own Matt Cutts reminds us not to neglect user experience by skipping on essentials, we’re also reminded by the WordPress Core (development) team that a site with 12 plugins is rapidly approaching “overload”.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve often heard me refer to some plugins as “heavy” although I’ve not really clarified that. (But it’s important so keep reading!)
Recently, Dev4Press (author of the GD series of plugins) published a set of charts showing the load times of some common plugins, which pointed out some eye openers for many people! I suggest you at least skim that post.
Among the worst offenders of those evaluated?
Plugins with worst loading stats and worst optimization from this test are: bbPress, GD Star Rating, Subscribe2, The Google+ Plugin, WooCommerce and YOURLS WordPress to Twitter.
(A) few plugins are a bit better than this, and they have lighter red color: BackupWP, Events Manager, gdHeadSpace4, GD Products Center Pro, GD Unit Converter, GravityForms.
It’s worth noting however that many plugins that might interest you or I were not in his tests.
What fared well?
Contact Form 7 and WP e-Commerce could benefit from some minor changes, but they are good as far as optimization goes. Light green and good optimization is done with: Antispam Bee and BackupBuddy.
Best optimized plugins, considering plugin size and features are: GD Affiliate Center Pro, GD Press Tools Pro, GD Custom Posts And Taxonomies Tools Pro, W3 Total Cache, WordPress Download Monitor, WordPress SEO.
So What About Our Sites & Plugins?
The one thing this doesn’t answer is how we can easily test our own unique combinations!
Up till very recently there has been no good way to accomplish that and certainly not easily!
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) For WordPress
P3 is a performance scanner for WP.org blogs and only works in the most current version of most browsers (will not work in IE8). You must leave the scan tab/window open while it is scanning.
Install P3 from the Plugin Search area of your WordPress.org blog. Then go to Tools -> P3 Plugin Profiler to access it.
Once there, click the “Start Scan” button and then “Auto Scan”. Once it finishes, click the “View Results” button to be taken to the results page in your dashboard.
What P3 Showed Me
Plugins that I KNEW were heavy definitely surfaced: WPSubscribers, PrettyLink Pro, Social & Blubrry PowerPress.
Saw much smaller delays from Premium Slider
I’ve adapted my site around these heavyweights as they bring me money-making features I need and thus these results do not surprise me. My MySQL Queries are higher than you might expect (also causes slowdown!) because I have a LOT going on in my theme’s custom functions file.
Notice that none of the well optimized plugins we mentioned earlier (that I run) showed up… a good (consistent) sign for this test.
Also useful is plugins that did NOT show up (or only marginally after deactivating almost everything else): Antispam Bee, Configurable Tag Cloud, Genki Youtube Comments, Google XML Sitemaps, ReplyMe, TinyMCE Advanced, WordPress Editorial Calendar, Zemanta
What Others Saw
DiTesco has different results than I do (as his plugins are different) and saw SEO Smart Links, Pretty Link Lite, WP popular Post, Yet Another Related Post, JetPack and to a smaller degree Thesis OpenHook show up.
It should be noted that I am doing related posts at the code level and so not using a plugin for that but that it is one of many things raising my number of queries.
On my testing site I saw Subscribe2, Thumbnail For Excerpts & WordBooker all come up. (But Commentluv Premium, FeedWordPress & Google+Blog did not)
Generally speaking you will find that backup plugins (usually needed) and analytics plugins (not needed, use Google Analytics and/or Clicky) are going to both test very high as will any plugin that loads dynamically (like many share buttons or social widgets)
Is That Enough?
Not a chance! (Sorry!)
There remain lots of other factors that go into getting your site speed well optimized. These include a highly optimized fast loading theme… reducing your dynamic widgets, reducing your number of database queries… optimizing each and every one of your graphics… and good use of caching and CDN/Cloudflare options.
For me, when tested using http://tools.pingdom.com the difference between not using caching/cdn/cloudflare (8-12 seconds loading time) and using caching (~4 seconds loading time, which is still somewhat high) is HUGE.
All of these elements are just one piece in the puzzle… but now you have one more bullet in your arsenal to help you know how to attack the problem!
Now, we not only have a quick and easy way to figure out which plugins are using the most resources… but we also can make more informed choices!
For example, if your picking between two particular twitter button plugins you can now have a look at whether either is showing up as a performance issue… this is important! It also lets us see if a full-featured plugin saves us resources compared to a handful of individual plugins to get the same result, above and beyond its ease of use.
Plus, you can do it in a very non-techy sort of way. Want to see the lesser-impacting plugins? Just temporarily disable (not delete) the heavy hitters and they will often then turn up on the graph.
If you are comparing plugins on different sites, just hover over the pie graph to get the actual speed number rather than the percentage.
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) is an awesome addition to your toolkit. Simply install it, run it and delete it when you’re done!
~ Kim ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing
PS: Need a star rating? Lets go with 4/5. It’s a great plugin but it’s not needed 24/7 by everyone. Also there is some additional data (or ways of looking at the data) that it could build on. Still a great plugin. (I very rarely give a 5/5)