How To Use Yslow To Speed Up Your WordPress Site

In my quest to optimize my websites I have come across many tools and applications that have either been fantastic resources or complete wastes of time. It’s often hard to wade through the crap to find the few decent and useful ones that are available today and for many that are available the documentation is less than adequate. I am big on research, I like to gather as much information about things as I possibly can and come up with methods and tactics that work best for me, when I find it difficult to get the relevant information that I need it frustrates me, so when I do find it I like to share it and make the information easily accessible to those who may come looking for it in the future.

A very useful tool for website optimization that I use almost daily is a firefox plugin called YSLow. It was developed by Yahoo’s Exceptional Performance Group as a method for producing a higher performance Internet that would benefit everyone. In order to utilize this plugin you will need to be using Firefox (you should be already anyhow) then you will need to install FireBug and finally, you will need to install the YSlow Plugin for Firefox.

Here is a a video that briefly discusses what YSlow is and why it was created. The individual in the video is Steve Sounders who was responsible for much of the development of the YSlow plugin and the core principals behind it. Have a watch, it will give you some good information.

The information this plugin provides is very useful but at the same time it can be completely confusing if you are not familiar with the terminology or the ideas behind them. In my search for “understanding” I found that information which actually shows how to implement the suggestions from YSlow is almost non-existant and the information that is freely available assumes that the readers already know everything, which is more often than not, a very incorrect assumption.

In the beginning stages, which is where most new site owners will be when looking for this information, it is quite easy to be completely overwhelmed by all of this information and many will just give up entirely on the idea of optimizing or eventually bite the bullet and pay someone else to do it for them (if this is you, contact me for a quote) However, I believe it doesn’t have to be all that difficult and if you want to learn to do it yourself, you definitely can.

I am going to take the information that is provided by YSlow and take you through it step by step, outlining everything in a manner than can be easily understood and more importantly easily implemented by anyone with the desire to accomplish it themselves. There is no reason that you should look at the information YSlow gives you and get scared. If broken down into bite sized pieces things are much easier to digest. Your mom always told you to properly chew your food right? This is no different, take things one step at a time and follow through with it and you will be set. If you are curious, here is a snapshot of what you will typically see when you use the plugin on a WordPress site that has a little optimization completed, about 95% of WordPress blogs are in worse condition than this one .


I am going to break this down into easy to follow steps starting Wednesday, July 22  with the first installment in this series. I will instruct you step by step on how to “make fewer http requests.” I will be taking the list in order and many of them will fall into a single post but the first one will require enough attention on its own to comprise the entire post. Follow up posts to the series will come each Monday, Wednesday and Friday until we have gotten completely through the entire list and have your site running so efficiently that you barely even recognize it. If you want to make it easy on yourself and be notified when the posts are added please subscribe to updates and you can be notified right in your inbox.

4 thoughts on “How To Use Yslow To Speed Up Your WordPress Site”

    • Hi Stefan,
      Thanks for stopping by. I am also a fan of WP Supercache but it only tackles a small percentage of what you can do to a site to speed it up, and unfortunately it is incompatible with some things which are much more beneficial, so I have had to stop using it on this site.

      I am however working on ways to get it to “play nice” with the other things I have done to my sites to speed them up. I guess like everything else, its a work in progress.

    • Hi Chris,

      I have been using that as well, I will say that it is growing on me. The only bad thing I can say about it is that for some reason it will lock up firefox when I use it about 30% of the time. Not quite sure why, but I hate when that happens lol

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