Too Many Plugins Slow Down Your WordPress Blog

I know you’re crazy about using plugins for your WordPress blogs. I am, too!

Plugins can enhance your blogs in so many ways. Do you want to encourage readers to sign up for your RSS feed? Is cutting down or eliminating comment spam important to you? How about optimizing your blog pings, streamlining your SEO efforts, automating backups, or even creating an archives page?

WordPress Plugins can be found for these and many other tasks. Check out the WordPress Plugin Directory where you can search over 1,500 plugins. Download as many as you want and try them out. No doubt you will find some real keepers.

The only caution here is that some plugins may not be updated to work with your WP version. Check the authors’ website to pick up the important details about the plugins you like. The best and most stable plugins are usually updated fairly quickly after WP is updated.

The downside to loading up your blogs with plugins is that too much of a good thing is…well, too much! Too many requests to your server to create your pages and your visitors are outta there. Why? It just takes too long. Also, all those plugins need to be kept up-to-date, so that means more time spent on blog maintenance.

Check to see if your theme and all the plugins you use are taking up too much server time by adding one line to the footer.php file of your theme:

<!-- <?php echo get_num_queries(); ?> queries -->

Essentially, we’re calling on the server to tell us how many times the server was accessed to create your page. The only way you will see the result of get_num_queries() is to go to your blog and View > Page Source. Look for a comment line in the footer, something like

<!-- 12 queries -->

If you see more than 20 or so queries, your server is being worked too hard and your pages will load slowly. Deactivate plugins, one at a time, and refresh your blog page. You’ll see the number of server requests, or queries, drop.

Delete plugins that are too costly in terms of the number of queries they demand and you’ll find a happy medium between too many requests that slow down your server and too few requests that make for a dull blogging experience.

How to Get Rid of that Uncategorized Category in WordPress Blogs

Until you’re very familiar with WordPress it can be difficult to find where to modify some of the features. It’s easy enough to add a new category for your posts right from the Write Post page. Over there on the right just type a new category in the box under Categories and click Add. Or add several categories at one time by separating them with commas.

The default post category can be changed from “uncategorized” to your choice of category by going to Options/Writing.

Writing options default post category of uncategorized.

Writing options shows the default post category of “uncategorized.”

At the default post category dropdown box, pick one you like and click on Update Options to make it so.

Add a new category by going to Manage/Categories. The trick here is that you can delete the uncategorized category after another category is selected as the default.

Manage categories for WordPress blogs.

Manage categories for WordPress blogs.

You picked the category you want as your default in the Options/Writing screen, or here you can click on add new to add more categories for your blog. Then, in the far right column, delete the uncategorized category.

A warning box pops up to alert you that you’re going to delete a category and that the posts that were assigned to the category to be deleted will now be assigned to the new default category.

Alert box shows you're about to delete a category.

Alert box shows you’re about to delete a category.

Click OK to make it so. You’ve gotten rid of the uncategorized category.

New WP Version 2.5 Will Change the Admin Area Look and Navigation

Just took a look at the new WP version 2.5 and I am impressed with the streamlining of the look and the navigation.

I was in the middle of creating a How-to ebook for a client on how to upkeep their WP blog, but if the release date is coming soon I think I’ll save myself some work and wait a while. Actually, I’ll be downloading and installing it locally to get a headstart on my clients!

If you haven’t seen it yet, get ready for a worthwhile upgrade.

How To Test New WordPress Themes and Validate They’re Error-Free

Now that you’ve polished your css and straightened your templates it’s time to test your new WordPress theme. Will it work like you want it to? How do you expect each ‘page’ to look? Did you want to have the full post or posts on each page or just the post excerpt on certain pages?

That’s a lot of questions you’ve already answered up to this point. Somewhere along the way you could have made a mistake. Testing your new theme will help you find any unexpected behaviors.

  • Copy your theme directory so you know you have a backup.
  • Give your theme a meaningful name in the header of the stylesheet.
  • Name your new theme folder with the name you gave in the style.css file and upload it to your WordPress theme folder, probably located at your domain.com/wordpress/wp-content/themes/.
  • Validate that your xhtml is error-free by viewing the source code, copying the source and pasting into the validate by direct input tab of the XHTML Validator from W3C.
  • Validate that you have an error-free stylesheet by copying or uploading style.css to the W3C CSS Validation Service.
  • Go into your blog admin panel and choose Presentation on the main menu.
  • Look for your new theme under the available themes and double-check the name of the theme and its description before you activate it by clicking on it. If the theme is listed under Broken Themes that means that WordPress can’t find one or more files that are needed. Try uploading again and make sure the style.css is in there.
  • Upload any plug-ins that your theme needs to the wp-content/plugins folder. Activate your plugins from the Plugins menu. Update any plugins that are out-of-date.
  • View your site and click everywhere to see that the blog is acting like it should.
  • Post on your blog about your new theme!