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Save the Internet from WordPress speed abuse.

Updated: October 2017

3 minute read

Loading plugins redundantly and globally decreases the speed of your pages. It’s best to deactivate heavy plugins on pages where they’re not needed. JavaScript, CSS files, and SQL queries are then reduced during page load.

A popular WordPress form plugin is installed on over 1 million WordPress websites. The favored culprit is Contact Form 7. It adds 37k page weight to all pages on your website. Even when the plugin is only used on one page – such as your contact page – the plugin “globally” slows down all pages. This “global” activation is even more problematic for heavier plugins like Google Maps or social media controls. We call global plugin activation “site drag.”

Other form plugins are lighter and faster. But substitution isn’t the solution or our main concern. What if we absolutely needed to use Contact Form 7 plugin because there is a special addon plugin that gives us more extended utility (And, there are addons!) How can you prevent global loading?

We fix it with a plugin that restricts a “heavy” plugin to just the pages where it’s needed.

★★★★★
Plugin Logic
Active installs: 100+, Zip archive 15k

or

★★★★★
Plugin Organizer
Active installs: 10,000+, Zip archive 295k

both let you deactivate or activate plugins on a page-by-page basis.

Update: We’ve located two others we haven’t tested yet – but they have potential. We’re surprised these have more downloads than Plugin Logic. Both are a heavier download. Once again, we see how product naming affects findability in the plugin directory.

★★★★
Plugin Load Filter
Active installs: 600+, Zip archive 137k

and another:

★★★★
WP Asset CleanUp (Page Speed Optimizer)
Active installs: 3,000+, Zip archive 57k

With these plugins, you can selectively disable plugins by any post type or WordPress-managed URL. But if you’ve read our recommendations about plugins and themes, you know we usually choose the lightest plugin when possible. Smaller file size usually equates with efficiency, which means it will probably load and work faster.

You do not need to buy the $29 Gonzales plugin. Use one of these four alternatives instead.

Of the four plugins, Plugin Logic (only 100+ active installs) is the simpler and easier to use. It hasn’t been downloaded much yet compared to Plugin Organizer (10,000+ installs). Using the Plugin Organizer is more complicated because it let’s you change the plugin load order. Changing the load order can help prevent plugin conflicts, which is a nice bonus feature if you need it – but we don’t, so we’ll stick with Plugin Logic.

Video Tutorials for Plugin Organizer (The fact people have created video tutorials indicates the plugin setup is complicated.):

Other Uses

While our main focus is page-speed improvements, here’s another example of how plugin deselection can help:

We’re using the WP Image Borders plugin (266k compressed download) on a client’s website. It makes it easy to add image borders to pictures on pages or posts – but activation is global. The plugin adds borders to images on all pages.

But we don’t want borders around every image – as in the case of these circular buttons show here – the border ruins the look. So we deselect the border plugin for just that page. Problem solved.

BEFORE: With light-blue border, edges show up as squares.
AFTER: The blue line is removed because the border plugin is deselected for only that page.

 

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


"Steve, you are a gent and a scholar. Thanks for your time and feedback. You are definitely right about speed inconsistencies with free Cloudflare!" silvercoast-apartments.com, Portugal

by - Cei Bunyan