While the aesthetics of a website are important, its content and loading speeds keep people coming back. WordPress supplies users with a sophisticated toolbox of plugins and themes to create their very own custom websites quickly.
This can be frustrating for readers. Thus, in this guide, we will explore how to find and remove these render-blocking scripts and show you how to increase the loading speeds of your WordPress website.
What Are Render-Blocking JS and CSS Scripts and Why Are They Bad?
These scripts are kept in a queue that your web browser uses to render the web page. The easiest way to see what scripts a web page uses without looking at the source code is downloading it from your (Ctrl + S) web browser. The web browser will download the HTML document along with a folder with all (or most) of the scripts, images, and other files the web page uses.
If you receive complaints or have noticed that your website has issues rendering its content, it’s not too late to fix it.
How to Optimize Your Website by Finding and Fixing Render-Blocking Scripts
Before deciding which scripts to terminate or optimize, you must assess your website or web page’s speed. You can use an online platform such as GTmetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. All you will be required to do is insert the URL of the website or webpage you want to test, and the tool will grade it and provide other insights.
Joining a coding tutorial course (or bootcamp) is also a good idea to help develop your skills further. On average, a coding bootcamp can take up to fifteen weeks to complete, and while this may sound like a long time, it’s well worth it when you consider how basic code literacy is an important skill to have in the modern world. Nevertheless, here are five ways to fix render-blocking scripts and increase the speed of your webpage.
1. Optimize the load order
Once you have optimized the head section, you need to optimize the body. Most web browsers render web pages from top to bottom. You need to order calls to scripts according to their importance and complexity. You should place calls to scripts that are not crucial for the web page’s rendering last along with complex scripts that take time.
2. Minify code
Minifying code involves rewriting it and deleting unnecessary characters such as white spaces, comments, commas, line breaks, etc. This makes the code more concise and compact, which ultimately reduces the size of the script and increases loading times for your web page.
Web browsers read code from top to bottom. When they encounter a script tag, they stop loading the web page and read the script file. This slows rendering down.
You can use the async attribute to load the script in parallel with the web page and execute it as soon as it’s available. Alternatively, you can utilize the defer attribute to defer the parsing of scripts. This means it will also load the script parallel to the web page but only executes it when the browser parses the web page.
In the past, CSS wasn’t as versatile as it is today. For instance, CSS 1.0 and 2.0 were devoid of UI tools like basic controls and sliders.
5. Eliminate All Unnecessary Scripts
The purpose of JS and CSS is to expand the functionality to web pages and add logic where HTML can’t. However, HTML 5.3 arrived with new tags that would make some CSS and JS operations unnecessary. Using HTML instead of scripts naturally makes your web pages load faster.
Thus the best way to optimize the speed of your website is to eliminate all underutilized scripts. You’ll need to analyze which scripts are completely unnecessary and remove them. Again, you can use Chrome DevTools’ Coverage Tab or GTmetrix to find the most underutilized scripts on your web page and then remove them.
Once you remove all unnecessary functions or tags, you can combine scripts whose functions are similar. If you already know how to maneuver your way around the source code of your web page, then this shouldn’t be a difficult task for you. However, users who aren’t as experienced or knowledgeable in web design should not fret. WordPress makes it easier for you to identify scripts on your website and edit them using various optimization plugins. We’ll cover those next.
6. Using Plugins to Optimize Your WordPress Website
Again, you do not need a working knowledge of programming to optimize your WP website. Although some experience would help. Nevertheless, there is a range of plugins geared towards script optimization. Some of them use AI to minify code, change the load order and replace underutilized scripts with more efficient code and scripts.
Some of the best plugins for script optimization include:
- WP Rocket: This is one of the most popular plugins for web optimization. It can automatically detect which scripts are problematic and fix them for you. You can use it for quick caching, deference, compression, and minification.
- Autoptimize: This can defer and eliminate non-essential scripts, integrate inline CSS and minify scripts, HTML, and images. Autoptimize is highly customizable through an open API and advanced options.
- W3 Total Cache: This plugin requires a bit of work to use. You will need to track and identify scripts manually before you remove or edit them. In most cases, this plugin is already available with your WordPress package.
So why didn’t we just recommend plugins in the first place? Unfortunately, some of these plugins will cost you. For instance, Autoptimize costs $49 per year. While it’s a reasonable fee, it may be unideal for people who are already paying a large chunk of money for hosting and other applications and plugins.
Nevertheless, regardless of whether you’re using plugins or finding scripts manually, you need to understand concepts such as minification, asynchronous loading and load order. It will make it easier for you to troubleshoot any loading issues should one of your scripts fail.