I'm using WordPress as the blogging software of choice for Ghacks and all of my other blogs. After reading Paul Stamatious article on optimizing CSS for WordPress I decided to give it a try and see if page loading times would benefit at all from it. I also had to check if the optimization would change the way my blog would be displayed or would throw up errors.
This meant that users on ISDN (128 Kbit) would have to wait 18.55 seconds before my site was fully loaded. Users on T1 connections, meaning 1.44 Mbps, would have to wait 9.28 seconds.
The figures are of course only valid if they do not use part of their download speed for other transfers at the same time. The first thing that I decided to do was to enable gzip compression in WordPress. Before I enabled it I did a quick check to make sure that the web server the site was running on supported the gzip command. You can run a simple phpinfo() command for example to find out about that.
I tested the result and the page size went down almost 35%! It went down 58K to 108K total. The time users with ISDN had to wait before the full page is loaded was reduced by almost 4 seconds from 18.55 seconds to 14.80 seconds. The loading time for T1 users was reduced by 0.51 seconds to 8.77 seconds in total.
I still did not apply the optimization that Paul suggested and that is what I intended to do next. His suggestion was to gzip compress the css file as well to reduce loading time even further.
I found reference to a nice WordPress plugin in the comments of his post. The plugin is called css-compress. It just has to be activated in the plugin tab in WordPress. The advantage of using css-compress over Paul's method is that css compress compresses all css files even those of third parties such as those from advertisers or other plugins.
Another check reported that the total size of my blogs frontpage was again reduced by almost 10k from 108K to 98K. Loading time was again reduced by 1.17 seconds for ISDN users and 0.65 seconds for users with a T1 connection.
I was not able to witness any negative effects on my blogs design, the functions or server load. Sure it uses a little bit processing power but this should only be a problem for weak shared hosts.
You can check the loading speed of websites using the nice script available at website optimization.
Other WordPress optimization tips
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.