”I don’t have big ideas. I sometimes have small ideas, which seem to work out.” – Matt Mullenweg
I previously detailed my WordPress setup, but over the last few weeks, I have given my site (another) overhaul worthy of an updated blog post.
New WordPress Theme
I recently switched to the X WordPress Theme. This theme comes with four different minimalist style layouts that help focus on blog readability over everything else, yet remain easily and highly customizable through the built-in WordPress customizer. I’ve played with a ton of different WordPress themes, and for a premium theme, this one is as easy as they come. If you want to make any very specific modifications, you may need to learn a little bit of CSS and/or PHP.
Strong Focus on Increasing Site Speed
The speed that your site loads is highly important for two reasons:
- Improved experience for readers (better chance that readers will actually read your writing). According to KISSmetrics:
”47 percent of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 percent of visitors will leave the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds.”
- Improved SEO. While I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to optimize for SEO (I’ve written before that the 80/20 of SEO is to write good content and write accurate blog titles), it is worthwhile to know that Google PageRank pays attention to site speed.
You can check your site’s speed according to Google and get general tips on how to optimize at Google PageSpeed Insights.
Unfortunately, many of the tips offered by Google are difficult to know exactly how to optimize. Besides having your site hosted on a fast server, the lowest hanging fruit are easily solved with a few WordPress plugins:
- WP-Optimize. This plugin actually increased my PageSpeed score by 10–14 points, and works by removing any excess junk such as comment metadata in your WordPress pages.
- Smush.It. This optimizes images in several lossless ways, such as stripping JPEG metadata and optimizing compression. The free version can “smush” image files under 1MB.
- BJ Lazy Load. This plugin uses a jQuery script to improve site loading by delaying loading of any images files until just as the reader has scrolled down to that image.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast. I continue to recommend this as an SEO optimization plugin.
- No longer using: Google XML sitemaps as this is included in WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Security and Backup
- VaultPress. Premium service from Automattic (the makers of WordPress) that offers real-time backup and has options for security protection. I switched to this service given the ease of restoring backups compared to WordPress Backup to Dropbox.
- Unchanged recommendations: Limit Login Attempts and Google Authenticator are used to prevent hacking into your site by scripted brute force attacks. Akismet protects your site from spam comments.
- WP Hide Post gives you better ability to control the visibility of posts/pages on your blog and comes in handy occasionally.
- Unchanged recommendation: Contact Form 7 is still the best and most popular contact form.
I’m always curious to hear if anyone has any better recommendations for WordPress plugins. If you have any suggestions, add it to the comments.