Throughout my WordPress development career, I’ve come across one too many websites stuck in WordPress limbo—a place where the icons are blurry, the load times are slow and the amount of plugins awaiting an update is too damn high. Although these issues can be fixed on an ad hoc basis, it’s much more efficient to get things right from the get go so that the problems are never there to begin with. If you’re a creative designer, developer or content manager looking to improve your current WordPress workflow in a quick and simple manner, here are three tips to help pull your site out of the WordPress blackhole:
1. Creatives: Start exporting your icons as SVGs
Gone should be the days where the creative team saves their typical web icons as PNGs. Yet the more I browse the web, the more I realize how many sites are still using them. PNGs are beginning to take the backseat to SVGs for one reason: They’re not scalable, meaning they usually only look sharp at the exact dimensions in which they’re saved. This means no dynamic resizing. You can’t upload an image and later determine that you’d like it to be 100 pixels wider (not without losing image quality at least). SVGs on the other hand, are scalable, retaining their clean, crisp look no matter how small or large they are. Here’s an example:
A side by side comparison of a logo saved as an SVG (left) and a logo saved as a PNG (right).
In order to keep your design as clean as possible, I recommend saving your web icons as SVGs. Your site will look impressive across all browsers, and your professional look will help establish a sense of trust between you and your users.
2. Developers: Use the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP CLI)
To be a good developer you need to be efficient. And, to be efficient you need the right tools. If you’re a WordPress developer and haven’t used the WP CLI yet, I recommend you start as soon as possible. The WP CLI is a command line interface tool that allows for a wide array of tasks to be performed quickly and efficiently with a few simple keystrokes. Check out how much quicker WP CLI is at updating WordPress compared to the typical update process you’re probably used to:
Updating WordPress from version 4.0 to 4.4.2 only takes ~20 seconds with WP CLI compared to ~44 seconds using the WordPress admin panel. (Gif is at 2x speed to help exhibit comparison)
Within an instant, we can update our WordPress core, install and update plugins, import or export our database, regenerate media files and much more. And the best part? We can complete these actions without having to navigate through the WordPress admin panel. If you’d like to see the full extent in reference to what WP CLI can do, you can view the full list of commands here. If you’re all about efficiency and enhancing your development workflow via a couple of keystrokes, download WP CLI and get cranking.
3. Content Managers: Only install the necessary plugins and update following a consistent schedule
If you’re a content manager looking to keep your site fast, up to date and secure, you should ensure that you’re only installing plugins that provide ample benefits. This means taking the time to update these plugins following a consistent schedule.
Try your best to avoid plugin bloat, and instead come up with a comprehensive list of plugins that fulfill some sort of functional or performance requirement for your site. A site with a large amount of plugins will perform worse than one with less due to extra PHP script processing. If the plugin successfully fulfills one of your major site requirements, great! You should keep it. But if it’s only providing a minor benefit, you need to determine what’s more valuable to you: the benefit the plugin provides or the benefit of a slightly faster site load without it.
An example of a plugin you should download is WP Super Cache, a caching plugin that helps improve site speed by saving your webpages as static HTML files. Site speed is not only important for the retainment of users, but also for your site’s ranking on Google’s search results. The speed benefit and improvement in search-result ranking makes this plugin worth every minute it takes to install (all two of them).
Plugins should also be updated frequently for two reasons:
- Updates patch up any security vulnerabilities and bugs that may have existed beforehand
- Updates provide additional features that better fulfill specific requirements
Updates for plugins usually come out a week or two after a new WordPress release. However, sometimes plugin-release schedules can be erratic. This is another great reason why a plugin update schedule is essential, as it ensures proper site security and forces you to constantly update your site.
That wraps things up here for the time being. If you’re looking to enhance your WordPress skills and make your life easier for 2016, implement these tips into your workflow. I promise you’ll have a cleaner, faster and more secure site in no time.