Primer on Web Page Caching

If you own a website and find yourself analyzing numbers related to page visits and footfall,you probably wish that your readers and customers have an optimal experience while they are on your page. Various web experts reiterate the same advice repeatedly that the longer your webpage takes to load,the fewer will be your page visitors. Nobody likes a slow webpage. And we just need to look into our own surfing experience to know that feeling.

The attention span of the visitor while surfing online is directly affected by the efficiency and ease of navigating through your carefully designed page. So what might be a rational step to take to avoid any unpleasant review? Cache your website to enhance every image and script,by understanding what it means and can do to your site’s performance.

What is Caching?

To understand caching,you should first have an idea about how browsing works. The page you have developed on WordPress needs to be displayed on the requestor’s browser page. For this to happen,a request is sent by the viewer to your server that holds your page,which in turn triggers the process to display the page. The viewer’s request to the server for displaying your page when they load your URL is called HTTP Request. The server sends over all the developed images and other material to their browser,making it the part of the process where things slow down.

Apparently,this happens if no optimization is done on images or if no file compression has been carried out. Every time a new request is created,the server must repeatedly carry out the process,thereby increasing the load.

By caching,your website’s performance is enhanced. The usual process is as below:

1. The viewer requests your server to load the website while loading your site’s URL.

2. As it handles multiple requests,the server has saved a copy of the previous URL loading request as a static HTML file. This static file is sent to new requests in order to reduce the time spent in repeating the creation of HTML files for each request. This is web caching in a nutshell.

3. On completion of the files transmission,the page is displayed.

4. The cached files are gotten rid of when the page undergoes an update or when the cache expires.

Advantages of Caching

Web caching can help your site stand out in various ways:

1. Improved server speed helps in better search appearance.

2. A faster page could help a random page visitor turn into a valued customer if he feels comfortable with the carefully optimized user interface.

3. Web hosting services or servers can save a considerable amount of memory by caching—quite a smart way to save some money for yourself or your client.

4. Unexpected traffic spikes can be managed by caching the site.

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Methods of Web Caching

There are two basic types of web caching. Full Page and Object Caching

Full Page Caching

As discussed earlier,this process involves sending over a single HTML file once the server receives the request. Some websites perform better when cached with this procedure if daily updates or uploads are not a necessity. In such cases,the load on the server is drastically reduced due to the streamlining of processes. For sites that have regular updates,the server will still have to process the HTTP requests every time new content is uploaded.

Object Caching

Object caching comes in handy if your page has common objects that are present in a consistent manner in other pages too. That makes object caching a hot favorite for site developers dealing with heavy website resources by smartly saving only parts of the web page for future requests.

Fragment caching is another type of object caching that actually stores a copy of your images or widgets instead of prioritizing certain sections of the page over the others as done by object caching techniques.
If you are sure about not regularly updating your page,object caching sounds like a perfect go-to option. Although,it might seem problematic for server speed if unexpected page traffic multiplies.

Leveraging Browser and Server Caching on WordPress

Browser Caching

Once you have identified the type of caching to resort to,leveraging browser caching is the next step in the process. Browser caching is done on the page visitor’s browser,but your site needs the same too,in order to notify the visitor’s browser about the need to cache your heavy images and other elements.

WordPress Codex suggests a few ways of going about with browser leveraging. HTTP Cache-Control helps you set a max-age directive to let the browser know how long the cached files have to be stored. Expires Header caching is to dictate when the cache should expire instead of setting a maximum age for storage. Disabling the e-tags option gives the browser a heads up about your personalized Cache-Control and Expires Header settings.

Server Caching

For caching your server,you will need the help of third-party tools like WordPress Plugins,Autoptimize,Cache Enabler,etc. There are umpteen options for server caching,but the trick lies in understanding your needs. Choosing the right one depends on whether you need Full Page caching or Browser Caching or if you need to use your Java scripts along with your material.

As you begin to identify your choice of server caching plugin,it is mandatory to ensure that no other plugin has been installed before. It is also important to check the plugins that are not allowed by the host server to avoid any hassle while setting up. WordPress Plugins have an officially prescribed set of rules to adhere to with instructions that are extremely user friendly.

The art of making your site efficient lies in knowing which caching technique is the best fit for your purpose. Next thing you know,getting your WordPress site polished with both browser and server caching can make navigating through your web page an effortless experience for anyone who decides to visit.

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