PagePipe’s collection of favorite plugins.

Updated: November 2018
No bloat
INTERNATIONAL SITE OWNERS: Get under 2-second load time on cheap, shared magnetic hosting. No CDN cheating. And still use dozens of free WordPress plugins!

Plugin retention is the percent of active installs divided by the number of all-time downloads.

★★★★★
Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS)
Active installs: 10,000+
Zip file size: 7k
All-time downloads: 39,951
Retention rate: 25 percent (good)

REFERENCE: How does Google Analytics affect mobile speed?


★★★★★
Far Future Expiry Header
Active installs: 20,000+
Zip file size: 7k
All-time downloads: 98,972
Retention rate: 20 percent (dang good)

This plugin appeared abandoned but it’s author returned and updated it recently. While this isn’t always necessary, it’s a good sign the plugin is “fresh.” We’ve used it for years.

This plugin will add a “far future expiration” date for various file types (like image files) to improve site performance. This is a best practice advocated by the Yahoo Extreme Performance Team. It keeps files and images cached longer. There is also a radio button to enable Gzip – a nice addition. (More about Gzip >)

REFERENCE: Is there a speed plugin for fixing Pingdom “Leverage Browser Caching” errors?


★★★★★
Holler Box – WordPress Popup Plugin for eCommerce
Active installs: 1,000+
Zip file size: 122k
All-time downloads: 13,273
Retention rate: 7 percent (low)

This small plugin uses only 3 calls (HTTP requests). 2.8k, 3.6k, and 3.8k loaded in parallel. That’s about 10k. Estimated load time: less than 40 milliseconds. But not on every page – only where it’s used (selective activation). Holler Box is a nice, lightweight plugin built correctly for mobile speed.

Holler Box (112k download) does all the essential OptinMonster functions for free – plus some – and doesn’t weigh a ton. Hollarbox is lightweight and loads fast.

REFERENCE: Faster and free alternatives to popular OptinMonster or SumoMe WordPress plugins.


★★★★★
WP jQuery Plus
Active installs: 4,000+
Zip file size: 3k
All-time downloads: 22,426
Retention rate: 19 percent (good)

Almost every browser on the planet already has Google’s jQuery CDN address loaded in cache.

You can change the WordPress code to substitute Google’s CDN hosted jQuery. But there’s an easier way. Just use WP jQuery Plus. It’s a WordPress plugin that loads jQuery from Google’s free Content Distribution Network (CDN). Users geographically far from you can download jQuery faster. The Google version of jQuery is also Gzip compressed and minified for fastest page loading. Yet, even though Google’s CDN servers are fast, it’s still not the biggest motivating gain.

REFERENCE: The fastest jQuery is the one you never have to load.


“Additional CSS” customization code often (usually?) disappears when changing themes and sometimes when updating. It depends upon the theme author’s diligence. Preservation isn’t built into core as one might suppose.

Adding a child theme to preserve custom CSS code generates an extra HTTP request. Our workaround (and there are others) is to use Tom Usbourne’s free “Simple CSS” plugin. It appears alongside the normal Additional CSS feature in the WordPress Customizer. This plugin doesn’t create an extra call (like a child theme) but still protects the code.

★★★★★
Simple CSS
Active installs: 70,000+
All-time downloads: 163,000
Zip download: 136k
Retention rate: 43 percent (high)

REFERENCE: Remove WordPress child themes for mobile speed.


★★★★★
Email Address Encoder
Active installs: 100,000+
Zip file size: 5k
All-time downloads: 332,978
Retention rate: 30 percent (high)

REFERENCE: HTTPS / SSL and it’s negative impact on mobile speed.


★★★★★
Disable Embeds
Active installs: 10,000+
Zip file size: 3k
All-time downloads: 45,760
Retention rate: 22 percent (medium)

REFERENCE: oEmbed removal for mobile WordPress speed fanatics.


★★★★★
PNG to JPG plugin
Active installs: 2,000+
Zip file size: 10k
All-time downloads: 10,115
Retention rate: 19.7 percent (good)

Description: Convert PNG images to JPG, free up web space and speed up your webpages:

  • Set quality of converted JPG.
  • Auto convert on upload.
  • Auto convert on upload only when PNG has no transparency.
  • Convert existing PNG image to JPG.
  • Bulk convert existing PNG images to JPG.

REFERENCE: WPFaster.com: 10 speed changes for $1,985. Do them yourself with free plugins.


★★★★★
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
Active installs: 100,000+
Zip file size: 183k
All-time downloads: 1,326,681
Retention rate: 7.5 percent (low)

Description: See which plugins are slowing down your site. This plugin creates a performance report for your site.

At this point, we smile. Over 100,000 sites made a bad assumption. They left this plugin active in the name of speed improvement. Ironically, the plugin slows every page and post by 12.7 milliseconds – even when sitting there. Oops!

WordPress plugins are PHP code. Various blogs and forums claim PHPv7 breaks the P3 plugin. The only plugin it tests is then itself. Our cheap, shared hosting is a techno-laggard (paradoxically, GoDaddy). They are still running PHPv5.4 as the default. Is that why they haven’t updated the plugin yet? For our speed demonstration, this may be helpful. But PHPv7 makes WordPress load so much faster – around a third the original v5.4 load time. Super fast. In theory, a 2-second page might load in 660 milliseconds. Beautiful! Many hosts have already adopted PHPv7. GoDaddy finally did mid-2017. We moved the version up a notch to version 7.1 in Cpanel on GoDaddy – a small speed boost.

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) causes 12.7 milliseconds of site drag. So we recalculate the results without this number messing things up. After testing, don’t leave it installed. At least, disable it. But we always remove it.

REFERENCE: P3 Plugin Performance Profiler and mobile WordPress speed.


★★★★★
Simple Basic Contact Form
Active installs: 9,000+
Zip file size: 261k
All-time downloads: 75,017
Retention rate: 12 percent (medium)

*All forms require placing a shortcode on your contact page.

REFERENCE: Contact Form 7 plugin slows down page speed for your entire website. Not just your contact page.


★★★★★
Date/Time Now Button
Active installs:
2,000+
Zip download size:
29k
All Time Installs: 10,191
Retention rate: 19.7 percent (good)

REFERENCE: Evergreen Content: Expired dates diminish site credibility.


★★★★
Autodescription (aka The SEO Framework)
Active installs:
50,000+
Zip download size:
351k
All Time Installs: 370,034
Retention rate: 13.5 percent (medium)

Autodescription plugin doesn’t do grotesque slow downs like Yoast SEO (from 150 to 240 milliseconds site drag). All SEO plugins consume ever-growing database resources. The plugin authors don’t tell you about that hidden liability.

Do we think SEO tricks alter ranking or increase click thru? We’re unconvinced. It doesn’t move the needle. But site owners desire feeling in control of the uncontrollable page rank and clickthrough.

REFERENCE: Autodescription SEO plugin and mobile speed.


★★★★★
Lazy Load by WP Rocket
Active installs:
10,000+
Zip download size:
92k
All Time Installs: 92,829
Retention rate: 11 percent (medium)

What we like most: No JavaScript library such as jQuery is used and the script weight is 1k to 6k. Fast. And, it defers about 500k video page weight on heavy pages.

Go to Settings > LazyLoad and check the 3 boxes to activate. This will then lazy load:

REFERENCE: Lazy load images and video for mobile speed.


★★★★★
Deactivate XML-RPC Service
Active installs: Fewer than 10
Zip file size: 26k
All-time downloads: 132
Retention rate: 7.5 (low)

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/the-best-lightweight-plugin-for-deactivating-xml-rpc-to-improve-wordpress-security/


TWO PLUGINS WORK IN TANDEM

★★★★
Simple Content Adder
Active installs: 30+
Zip file size: 1.2M
All-time downloads: 358
Retention rate: 8.3 percent (low)

★★★★★
WP Image Refresh
Active installs: 700+
Zip file size: 823k
All-time downloads: 4,630
Retention rate: 15 percent (medium)

The two suggested plugins are free, obscure, and esoteric. We’ve experimented with various plugins. This combination works best for us.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/image-rotation-using-plugins-for-site-efficiency/


★★★★★
Disable Comments
Active installs: 1+ million
Zip file size: 82k
All-time downloads: 5,041,978
Retention rate: 20 percent (good)

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/anti-spam-disable-comments-with-a-plugin-and-get-rid-of-akismet-too/


★★★★★
Plugin Logic
Active installs: 100+
Zip file size: 15k
All-time downloads: 2,998
Retention rate: 3 percent (very low)

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/selective-plugin-deactivation/


★★★★★
Peanut Butter Bar (smooth version)
Active installs: 600+
Zip file size: 39k
All-time downloads: 5,345
Retention rate: 11 percent (low to medium)

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/top-hello-bar-knockoff-plugins-for-speed/


★★★★★
Remove Query Strings
Active installs: 10,000+
Zip file size: 12k
All-time downloads: 47,002
Retention rate: 21 percent (medium)

These plugins are super lightweight and benign. You may see millisecond improvements. There’s no reason not to install one for speed.

The bottomline is: removing query strings does no harm – but the only benefit most likely is an improved test score – not speed. Of course, the question is, “Why do speed tests insist it be done?” It’s ivory tower idealism.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/how-to-remove-query-strings-from-static-resources-with-a-wordpress-plugin/

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


"I have been searching for years to find the most accurate information available on WordPress speed optimization but I was never able to get my site fast enough. I was extremely fortunate to stumble upon PagePipe which seemed to have a lot of information that no one was talking about, but it made so much sense." drhedberg.com North Carolina, USA

- Dr. Nikolas Hedberg

Judging WordPress plugin quality.
A speed comparison of WordPress Link Cloaking plugins