The other day I received an email from someone who was following the Twenty Thirteen mobile optimized header image tutorial series that I published last year. With great interest he had made his way through part 1 and he wanted to move on to part 2.
Only he couldn’t and he was kind enough to send me an email about it. The reason he couldn’t follow the tutorial anymore because what he saw was basically the same as if you would press
CMD (CTRL) + U in Firefox: View Source.
Of course after I received his email I went to check for myself and indeed, although other pages on the site were fine, that particular page showed the source code. Fortunately for me, I already had noticed this one time earlier and I knew exactly what it was and how to solve it: just clear the cache in the W3 Total Cache panel.
Wrong. Because I really hate it when a plugin messes with my site.
Mind you WP TIPS is hardly commercial apart from the few affiliate ads in the sidebar and the “revenue” I generate from those probably won’t cover one yearly nice dinner with my wife. If I would rely on WP TIPS for my income I would be fuming, but then I would probably have paid the guys from W3 Total Cache for a professional setup a long time ago already.
Now I have to be honest, although I know quite a bit of WordPress, caching is one of those things that I a. don’t understand and b. don’t have a real interest in learning, because it simply is a bit over my head.
People who have been reading WP TIPS for a while know that I am not a big fan of a huge amount of plugins, but if you want to speed up your site, you need a caching plugin. Just the same as you need the WordPress SEO plugin if you want to optimize your site for search engines, WPML if you want to run your site multilingual and Relevanssi if you want people to be able to find what they’re looking for on your site.
Coincidentally two weeks ago I had read a post over at WP Tavern about an upcoming commercial caching plugin: WP Rocket and had made a mental note about it.
One of the reasons I wanted to remember this plugin was because it’s fully compatible with WPML and in my book anyone who does that already has a very big plus. It probably helps that the 3 developers are all from France and in Europe they speak quite a few more languages. What also caught my eye was that one of the people who left a comment said that with WP Rocket he spends no more than 10 minutes per site to set up the plugin, which is a lot less than you need for setting up W3TC!
So after the debacle with W3TC using its caching to show the source code of my site for the 2nd time, I was done and I immediately deactivated and removed the bloody plugin from my site. On to check out WP Rocket.
For 39 bucks they were going to give me the chance to try it out on one site. I cannot speak for others, but to me that is a no-brainer. So I went on to the buying page and they wanted me to check the Terms & Conditions. Given the amount of sites that they show on their homepage to be already running on WP Rocket (almost 3500 at time of writing), there must be an incredible amount of French people OR still nobody reads fine print. Anyways, I had to agree to their T&C in French…
Now I can speak some high school French, but I can assure you that it does not cover legal lingo, so instead of accepting those terms I sent them an email to ask if they could provide me with an English translation. And I kid you not, by the time it was early morning in Europe I first received an apology email from Jean-Baptiste, one of the developers and soon thereafter the link with the English terms. These guys are serious and I like that!
Soon thereafter I could activate WP Rocket here on WP TIPS, but of course not before I had taken a benchmark Pingdom test.
Now the thing with site loading times for me is that I cannot really check them, because I live in Beijing, which means that my internet speed to sites outside of China is always crap; that is, if I actually can get on. Therefore I’m basically 24/7 on VPN, which obviously slows things down even more. So when I am happy that a site loads pretty fast or faster than before, then I can only imagine what it must be for you guys, on the good side of the Great Firewall!
Here’s a screenshot of my Pingdom before/after test:
With all 3 boxes for minification checked, there was a little issue with embedded Gists (it places the Gists on top of the post), but after a brief conversation on their support forum, they assured me that in the next update, that issue will be gone too and my site will then load even faster, ha!
What I like about the plugin:
- low price for something so incredible functional (1 site is $39, 3 sites for $99 and unlimited sites is $199. Renewal fees are even lower at $29, $79 and $169 resp.
- fast and efficient setup
- WPML compatible
- preload cache, which means that they send a little robot out there to crawl your homepage and cache its contents including internal links, which in turn means that I don’t have to wait until a visitor shows up to generate the first cache.
- lazy loading images
I never had the last one, lazy loading of images, but this comes as an option in the settings, so I though that I might as well try it out and it just works so cool!
I also think there is some room for improvements, which is basically only related to the documentation, or should I say lack thereof:
- Most (if not all) the instruction videos are in French; I mean really???
- I hate instruction videos with a vengeance, not only because they take forever to load due to my physical location, but how about quickly looking up something? You really think I want to sit through an entire bloody video again? Believe me, I don’t. Just write down the instructions and explain the settings in words, for all I care you give me a 30 page PDF, a link to a site or a plain text file, anything is better than a video instruction!
UPDATE: Jean-Baptiste let me know that they are working on English videos and documentation.
Needless to say, but I am going to anyway, is that I am very happy at the moment! I actually see myself putting down the money for the unlimited license very, very soon so my other sites and those of my clients can benefit too from the incredible “lightspeed” of WP Rocket.
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a license too, you can thank me later!