There is no dearth of caching plug-ins for WordPress. Being a heavy PHP-based application that can be used for large or small sites, WordPress has a lot of resources, pages, and static as well as dynamic content. I had earlier made a detailed comparison between W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. While both of these are awesome plug-ins, they are less than ideal for newbies. If you want absolute control over the order and placement of your CSS and JavaScript files, a plug-in like W3 Total Cache is exactly what you need. Most people though are neither aware of, nor do they need to manage their site’s resources with such finesse. Despite the undeniable power of these tools, there has been a need for something a little simpler to use without sacrificing much flexibility.

Launched in the French market at the end of 2013, WP Rocket aims to fill this gap. Unlike the other cache plug-ins, it is a paid service with optional license renewals for new updates and support beyond the initial validity period. It first came to my attention when a post by WPMUdev mentioned it along with the heavyweights in the WordPress marketplace. The folks at WP Rocket were kind enough to provide me with a test account for review. While the plug-in performs much of the basic caching functionality automatically without any intervention by the user, there are a few unique features that it brings to the table.

Lazy Image Loading

Lazy image loading is one of those concepts that sound really awesome but is difficult to implement without additional overhead. I remember trying to implement it once without much success. WP Rocket provides us with functionality that loads images on a website on demand as the user scrolls down. This means that on an image heavy site, only those resources are downloaded that the user actually needs to see. Upon installation of WP Rocket, a simple checkbox enables this functionality:

lazy load images

After saving the settings if you take a look at the code for images that haven’t been loaded yet, you will see that a new HTML attribute has been added called “data-lazy-original”

HTML lazy

Lazy image loading works like a dream. No hassles and no additional setup. Simply enable it, and forget it.

DNS Prefetching

WP Rocket offers what is known as “DNS Prefetching”. Modern websites load their resources from a number of Web servers. Whether it is CDNs or third-party plug-ins, the parent HTML downloaded from the original server can be easily overshadowed by content pulled from outside. Much of the optimization of webpages focuses on streamlining the process. DNS Prefetching allows us to shave a few precious milliseconds off of the DNS lookup for these resources. In this test example, I have instructed WP Rocket to automatically resolve “s.gravatar.com”.

DNS prefetching

It’s quite an innovative feature, and one which to my knowledge is only offered by WP Rocket.

Deferred Javascript

Minification and combination of JavaScript and CSS files isn’t enough. One critical component of lowering page speeds is the ability to defer the loading of JavaScript resources until the page has loaded. WP Rocket makes this easy by allowing you to specify which JavaScript files should be moved to the footer as well as which ones should be deferred.

deferred javascript loading

A simple drag-and-drop interface also allows you to order the loading list for optimal functionality.

PageSpeed Tests

Since most of the power of WP Rocket is enabled automatically with minimal intervention, all you need to do is enable the few checkboxes for almost perfect optimization. Running a Google PageSpeed insights report for example, provides the following optimized checklist:

pagespeed insights

WP Rocket hits all the right spots. From minification, to compression and browser caching, most of the important “to do” items are taken care of. Combined with impressive features such as pre-crawling websites for priming the cache as well as the pre-resolution of DNS requests, it is set to become one of the top WordPress caching plugins.

Website: http://wp-rocket.me/

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About the Author

Bhagwad Park

2 Comments on “Review: WP Rocket Premium Cache Plugin for WordPress”

  1. Not as “Plug and Play” as they would have you believe. First they had to create code to allow for the Rafflecopter Widget, which had to be placed in my Functions.PHP file. Then several other Javascript codes wouldn’t work out of the box, even when put in the minify section. Eventually had to pull the plugin and their “30 day refund” isn’t a guarantee in the most true sense.

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