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How to set up CSS and Javascript minification to improve the performance of your WordPress site

Minifying your CSS and JS files should be at the top of your list when it comes to speeding up your Wordpress site. Here is the easy way to do it right.

As with anything related to WordPress, you have several options to minify files

As a WordPress developer, I could dive into a technical explanation for minification for performance optimization. Maybe post some code for your functions.php file then warn you that it should only be performed by a developer.

But that wouldn’t be my honest best answer. As my customers know, I always look to plugins first, and custom development last. Now before you open up a new tab and start searching for WordPress minification plugins, keep in mind that I am also extremely diligent about which plugins I will implement into a client’s site

What to look for in a WordPress file minification plugin to speed up your site

My research of a new plugin always starts with the developer who built it. Specifically the company that built it.

  • If it’s just a freelance developer, I move on
  • If they only offer a free plugin, I move on
  • If they don’t have a support portal, I move on
  • If they don’t have a documented list of updates, I move on

The reason I work through the above criteria is all about support. Not just technical support, but development support with regular updates. I only want solutions that have a track record of stability and are financially tied to the ongoing success of their tool. 

I've worked with numerous minification plugins that meet my criteria, and my real-world experience has shown that a few rise above the rest

The people at WP Rocket rise above the rest. This plugin is the easiest to set up, delivers the best performance, and is the only one that has everything covered. If you run a test on Pingdom, WP Rocket is the only WordPress performance plugin that is capable of addressing every recommendation that comes up.

At $50, it’s a no brainer. Not only will you have minification handled, but you’ll have pretty much every other performance element taken care of as well.

Autoptimize comes in at a strong second place in my experience. Many developers would say it’s their preferred plugin for not just minifying files, but for WordPress performance in general. From my perspective, it falls short in the simplicity category. While the end results are nearly the same, Autoptimize is really only a solid solution if you spend most of your day in the WP Admin area. This just isn’t something I can expect of my customers. Secondly, doesn’t really offer a strong solution for GZIP compression. While this is not something directly related to minificaiton, it’s something you’ll need to have configured if you want your site performance to be the best it can me

If you want to just focus on minification (or if you are trying to piece together a completely free solution that requires using the free version of several plugins), then Fast Velocity Minify is your answer. It does what it says in the name. Clean, simple, and easy. The reason it’s only number 3 is due to the fact that if you want to really speed up your site, you’ll need to do more than minify your CSS and JS. With Fast Velocity Minify, this means more plugins. More plugins is never a recommended approach if you can do it with one.

Good luck minifying your CSS and Javascript. Please come back and share your experience in the comments!

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