Make fewer HTTP requests in WordPress

One of the common items highlighted in both Pingdom’s Speed Test tool and a GTMetrix report is ‘Make fewer HTTP requests’. Pingdom describe this practise as: Decreasing the number of components on a page reduces the number of HTTP requests required to render the page, resulting in faster page loads. Some ways to reduce the number of components include: combine files, combine multiple scripts into one script, combine multiple CSS files into one style sheet, and use CSS Sprites and image maps.

To demonstrate how you can make fewer HTTP requests I’m going to perform a number of tests on hypnotherapypreston.uk – a simple WordPress website using the Elementor page builder…

Website with no optimisation plugin active:

The site scores an F (0%) grade with the report showing that there are 16 external Javascript scripts and 19 external stylesheets – a total of 35 requests. When a user visits the website, each one of these scripts and sheets need to be loaded in order to display the website.

If you are using a WordPress website there are many plugins available which promise to enable your site to make fewer HTTP requests. For a number of years I’ve been using Autoptimize – a popular add-on with over 1 million active installations.

Using Autoptimize to make fewer HTTP requests:

Once activated, Autoptimize has reduced the number of requests to 10 and has pushed the score to a B (80%) grade which is not bad. Recently however, I’ve found Autoptimize to be conflicting with other WordPress add-ons. The combined Javascript can cause contact forms unable to send messages and stop certain media items such as videos and animated images being displayed. This led me to try another plugin… Fast Velocity Minify.

Fast Velocity Minify is a lesser known addition for WordPress – at the time of writing it has approximately 80,000 active installs however it does however carry a great 4.9/5 rating. Upon installation, settings are easy to configure in a few button clicks.

Using Fast Velocity Minify to make fewer HTTP requests:

As you can see, HTTP requests have reduced to just 6 and the grade has gone up to 88%. Importantly, I have not encountered any conflicts with other plugins.

Conclusion.

Making fewer HTTP requests is an important area to look at when putting a website together. It can improve website experience for the visitor by reducing load times and will help with your SEO too; a website that scores well will rank better than a similar site that is not set up correctly. If you are using WordPress there is no excuse to neglect this key performance indicator.

Note: Article originally appeared on Clook

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