If a cookie falls on the ground for 5 seconds there’s a good chance I won’t pick it up and eat it (the condition of the floor is another matter altogether). The 5 second rule isn’t just for food. If a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load on a decent connection, than there’s a good chance I am going to bounce. We all know that website performance is important. It can make a big difference in UX as well as your bottom line. Faster loading times mean better SEO, a reduced bounce rate, increased ROI and a more responsive feel.
Fortunately it’s not hard to fix slow loading times. There are many different ways to tweak performance and get an edge. One way is to utilize HTTP caching. It’s one of the easiest ways to accelerate performance by reducing latency. HTTP caching is useful for web applications.
The Cache Enabler plugin creates a static HTML file of a webpage and stores it on your server. Your web server will send the static HTML file to the browser – avoiding the redundant use of resources and backend process. This WordPress cache engine will improve performance by loading pages faster. This gives visitors a better experience and makes your website feel more responsive. The Cache Enabler plugin is maintained by KeyCDN and it is available for free from the WordPress.org plugin repository. According to KeyCDN, this plugin is meant to replace your current caching plugin to improve performance. In this post I am going to install it to see how it works on one of my websites.Get Cache Enabler FREE!
How does Cache Enabler Work?
The Google Developers Website has some useful information on caching and web performance. Ilya Grigorik, who wrote the post on HTTP caching, eloquently stated:
Fetching something over the network is both slow and expensive: large responses require many roundtrips between the client and server, which delays when they are available and can be processed by the browser, and also incurs data costs for the visitor. As a result, the ability to cache and reuse previously fetched resources is a critical aspect of optimizing for performance.
By using a caching plugin, we can instruct the browser to reuse resources instead of generating webpages from the ground up each time. With Cache Enabler active, your website’s content will be delivered faster via PHP or gzipping.
If the Cache Enabler plugin is working correctly, you will see a comment in the source code at the very bottom of the page. Be sure that you are logged out of the admin first otherwise your source code will look different.
Taking a Look at Cache Enabler
Time to test this baby out. The setup is “minimal,” all you need to do is install it, activate it and enjoy better performance. To feel the full speed of this plugin, I am going to add a code snippit from KeyCDN’s website to my .htaccess file via FTP. This snippet is needed to do two things that lower latency:
- bypass PHP if a static HTML file exists
- bypass the expiry directory
After you install and activate the plugin, you can configure the plugin by going to Settings > Cache Enabler.
When you visit your site while you are logged in as an admin, you will also see a couple new items on the admin bar from the front end.
An option to clear the global cache or page specific cache will also appear in the post/page editor.
This plugin is extremely simple to use and lightweight. There are only 4 settings to configure.
Cache Expiry – set a time limit for when the cache expires (I bypassed this with the code snippet).
Cache Behavior – some options to determine if and when the cache should be cleared.
Cache Exclusions – posts or pages that you don’t want to be cached.
Trying Out the Plugin
I am going to leave all the settings on their defaults. I am not using WebP format for any of my images or minification at the moment. I simply installed and activated the plugin. Now it’s time to check my page loading time.
Just the basic settings were able improve my site’s performance. I wanted to get an idea of how fast my website loaded so I used a built-in developer tool for the Chrome browser called Page load time to measure the speed. I got the average page load speed by loading the page 5 times before I activated Cache Enabler and 5 times after. Here are the results.
- Before (No Cache Enabler) = 3.55 seconds
- With Cache Enabler = 1.25 seconds
Wow! I got over a 64% decrease in loading time. That is a nice increase in performance with very little effort.
- Quick Caching
- Clear cache from the admin bar or dashboard settings page
- Purge cache by specific page or post
- Set automatic cache expiry
- Option to automatically clear cache after a new comment is posted
- Integrate WebP format for images
- Cache size is displayed in the dashboard in the settings panel
- Custom post type support
- Mutisite support
- Works seamlessly with Autoptimize
- Exclude caching for certain posts or pages by ID
- HTTP/2 focus
- Supports responsive images via srcset in WordPress 4.4
One of the drawbacks of building modern websites and applications running on the internet is performance. Caching plugins can help you to use your resources more efficiently and deliver content faster. When you only have a finite number of server space and computing power to use, certain configurations enable you get better results. This Cache Enabler is super lightweight and simple to use. If you are interested in getting better performance out of your website, than it’s definitely worth a test drive. Especially if you have tons of images and API calls using your server’s resources. If you are already using a caching plugin like W3TC and you aren’t satisfied, Cache Enabler may just be your answer.
I am happy with the results on my site so far. I am going to try and change some more settings and see if I can optimize my site even further. Do you have any favorite caching plugins, tricks or tweaks for WordPress? Let us know in the comments section.