How to Optimize Your Site’s Speed with Genesis 2.0 and W3 Total Cache Pro

Genesis 2.0, a Mobile Responsive Framework for WordPress

Since launching in the first week of August, Genesis 2.0 continues to win over even those who’ve been occasional skeptics.

Kudos to the StudioPress team. I love seeing big iterations like these that bring a huge swath of the theme market up in quality. - Brian Krogsgard

The reasons for the outpouring of Genesis 2.0 love are what we thought they’d be:

  • Responsive design
  • Support for HTML5
  • Integration of Schema.org microdata
  • Enhanced security
  • Improved performance

Today, we want to zero in on that last one…

Genesis 2.0 + W3 Total Cache Pro

When we launched Genesis 2.0, we only partially revealed details about performance improvements in the framework.

Today, we are unveiling a collaboration we’ve been working on with W3 EDGE that was silently released in W3 Total Cache (W3TC) 0.9.3. This release includes the Fragment Cache engine as well as W3TC’s first ever extension, exclusively for the Genesis Framework, plus our brand new whitepaper “The Truth About WordPress Performance: Why You May Not Need What You’re Being Sold.”

Performance is paramount. The most breathtaking design with all the bells and whistles in the world is rendered useless if the site does not perform.

And by perform, I mean load completely before readers and search engines get impatient — in about 1.5 seconds, to be exact.

Which is, of course, just a minimum expectation. StudioPress.com loads in roughly half that amount of time, in mere milliseconds.

How can your site do the same?

Do what we do: make Genesis 2.0 and W3 Total Cache the foundation of your website’s optimized core.

What is an Optimized Core?

Your WordPress site’s performance core consists of its plugins, theme, and hosting.

You already know that a minimalist plugin strategy is the way to go. Simply put: if you or your readers can live without a plugin, do so.

You also know, or at least suspect (you are reading this site), that a theme framework is the best long-term decision for your site.

And you have choices, of course, when it comes to theme frameworks.

So what makes Genesis the one to choose for an optimized core? Here are three easy reasons:

  1. HTML5 makes your site cross-browser compatible and more efficient when it comes to API interaction, storage, and other elements that impact reader experience.
  2. Small, subtle “under-the-hood” upgrades like coding widget classes in PHP5, minifying admin CSS and Java, and removing inline HTML comments add up to reduce bloat, which reduces page load time.
  3. Genesis 2.0 supports W3 Total Cache Pro fragment caching.

    You already knew about numbers 1 and 2. Number 3 is the feature we are incredibly excited to unveil today because it will truly turbocharge your Genesis site.

    But what does it mean?

    Caching is a basic element of almost every WordPress website. It increases page load speed by caching fully-formed HTML files that can be quickly served up to users without calling the database.

    Fragment caching takes this a step further by allowing you to cache portions of a page. This maximizes your site’s ability to be dynamic and fast.

    Led by WordPress performance pioneer Frederick Townes, the expert team at W3 EDGE has been hard at work for months and months perfecting the integration of fragment caching into W3 Total Cache Pro. And they used Genesis 2.0 during the development process, building Genesis-specific support right into the plugin itself with the Genesis W3 Total Cache Extension.

    Genesis was already one of the most clean, streamlined themes available. With fragment caching, it gets even better. In fact, fragment caching improves performance between 30-60% on page areas that utilize transient variables.

    How to Optimize Your Site’s Core … Today

    So how do you get this on your site?

    You can pick up a copy of Genesis 2.0 and W3 Total Cache Pro individually and get rolling right away, but you would be forgetting about the third ultra-important element of an optimized core: hosting.

    Embodying its name, Synthesis delivers Genesis 2.0 (including the Sixteen Nine child theme) and W3 Total Cache with fragment caching on its WordPress-optimized Nginx hosting stack.

    This means that for as low as $27 per month, and with 30 (completely risk-free) days to try it out, you can experience what an optimized WordPress core is all about.

    With Synthesis, you sign up and get a configured and ready-to-run website … today with W3 Total Cache Pro included for free and pre-configured! All you have to do is simply turn fragment caching on.

    You cannot find this combination of hosting, theme, and next-level caching anywhere else. It’s a core that cuts through the buzzwords, bells, and whistles to deliver what you need: a website that performs.

    Optimize your core with Genesis 2.0 and W3 Total Cache Pro today.

    *****

    And while we’re on the subject, let us do a little demystifying for you when it comes to WordPress performance.

    There is a lot of noise out there, and you are constantly being sold “solutions” that you most likely do not need. Our whitepaper addresses this and gives you a road map for arriving at the right performance formula for your site.

    Download it now: The Truth About WordPress Performance: Why You May Not Need What You’re Being Sold

Comments

  1. Hi @Morris I’m using W3 Total Cache + Genesis most of my sites but what is the difference between W3 Total Cache Pro and free version? Haven’t heard about pro version!

    • Arafin, if you are running Genesis then the advantages of W3 Total Cache Pro are tremendous, as you will be able to take advantage of fragment caching. I will defer to the W3 Edge team to explain everything else that is in W3TC Pro, which I assume they will be doing shortly now that this announcement has gone live. http://www.w3-edge.com

      • Will fragment caching work on all hosting?

        It seems like most shared hosting environments won’t support Opcode…Or is this not the case?

        • Yes, the optimal way to handle this is via Opcode caching. You should ask your host if they support. You could implement via disk caching. If your database server is shared, you’ll likely see a faster result. If it is local, the DB will likely outperform the file system. Still, testing will provide the actual data.

    • @Arafin this post hopefully makes it more clear what W3TC Pro is all about: http://www.w3-edge.com/weblog/2013/09/w3-total-cache-pro/

  2. So with Synthesis hosting we do not need to take the pro version, it is already included?

    I am able to see fragmantation cache in my W3 Total Cache install but other than turning is on, do we need to do anything else? define groups or policies etc…(I am using Genesis and hosted on Synthesis)

  3. And again Genesis leads the way at making there premium themes stand out!

  4. Waw, this is perfect already using Genesis and W3tc. Where can I download and test W3 Total Cache Pro?

  5. Just host with synthesis. Problem solved. My website has never loaded faster. :)

    • We endorse this message. :-) With the added, and all-important note, that Synthesis sites are never faster than when combined with Genesis and W3TC. It is a true optimized core.

  6. Awesome addition! So when does this go live for existing Synthesis customers? Unless I’m missing something, my hosting plan hasn’t been upgraded to Pro yet. Does Synthesis provide the license key? Or is it being rolled out?

    • Jon, it is live on Synthesis right now. Use the instructions linked above to enable the Genesis extension.

      • I just double checked and am stuck at step 1. There isn’t a fragment cache section in the general settings tab of my W3TC.

        • Jon, you may have APC disabled on your server. This can be re-enabled. Submit a support ticket to the Synthesis team and we’ll be able to get you rolling.

  7. Excited to hear more about W3 Total Cache Pro (although without the need for Synthesis)! Great work StudioPress!

  8. I have Cloudflare. Will this still improve speed significantly?

  9. I had synthesis support help me out because I had a brain fart. Excellent support this afternoon.

    I am so glad I made the leap a year ago to websynthesis web hosting. All the hosting problems I had with another web host went away when I switched. W3 total cache is hard to setup but synthesis got this covered for us customer’s.

  10. I asked Frederick Townes on twitter but my question has been gently omitted so I am repeating it here. What are the advantages of this W3 Total Cache Pro-Version if you are not using A Genesis Framework Theme. Will Fragmentation Cache have any other effect then?
    You can’t expect people to spend 99 Dollars if even the simplest of questions are not covered/answered…

    • Gary, I believe right now that fragment caching is only available for the Genesis Framework. It is the only theme framework I see in the Extensions menu. I am sure that they will be adding support for other theme frameworks soon.

  11. Jerod, thanks a lot for these tips!!! Will implement them really soon!!!

  12. Hi… wouldn’t it be just great if you outlined the correct settings for W3TC with Genesis here so everyone would get the most out of it independent o where they are hosting?
    Synthesis is not for everyone you know ;-)

    • Carlo, you can actually follow the instructions even if you are not on Synthesis. If for some reason you don’t see the Fragment Caching option available in the settings, then contact your current hosting provider.

  13. I already thought Genesis was fast. Now it’s supersonic!

  14. I am seriously considering switching to synthesis (although it’s a bit too expensive for my beginer blogger needs). But I have a few questions first :

    1) I am using fabric theme. Do you plan to update it to make it HTML5 and responsive ?

    2)The way it’s written here, it seems like synthesis installation includes all studiopress child themes, did I understand it right?

    Thanks

    • Benjamin,

      Yes, at some point and in some fashion, a Pro version of the Fabric theme will be released. There is no specific timetable for this yet, however.

      And no, all child themes are not included with Synthesis setups. You get Genesis 2.0 and a copy of Sixteen Nine, but additional child themes must be purchased separately.

  15. This is a bit of a dilemma for me as one of my favorite hosting companies, WPEngine disallows the W3TC plugin (actually all caching plugins I believe) because they conflict with their own caching scheme…can you speak to how their setup compares?

    • Jacob, I am not fully versed in WPEngine’s caching strategies, though I do know that, as you say, they disallow W3TC to use their own scheme. We’ve simply taken a different view on this, choosing to partner with pioneers in WordPress performance like W3Edge to ensure that our customers get the best origin caching possible, and thus the best performance available. Plus, with W3TC working so closely with our Genesis team, it makes sense to use feature their ever-evolving product, especially when they are willing to let us provide the Pro package with fragment caching for free to our customers. It’s a big reason why we’ve seen so many recent signups, especially with Genesis customers. It just makes sense.

      • Whoa I didn’t notice the part about W3TC Pro being free for Genesis users! So…how do we get it?

        • Jacob, the way I worded my reply is a bit misleading … so my apologies. To clarify: it is not Genesis customers who get W3 Total Cache Pro, it is Synthesis customers, who get Genesis AND W3 Total Cache Pro included in each setup.

          • Aww…ok. Partly my bad because I also didn’t catch that Sysnthesis is a Copyblogger company…now it all makes sense…

            Anyway, thanks for the article!

  16. I have 5+ sites with genesis. I have trouble finding prices? How much does it cost to install W3 Total Cache Pro on 5 sites for example?

    • Andreas, if you have your sites hosted with Synthesis then installing W3 Total Cache Pro is included. Otherwise, you’d have to refer to the W3TC website for non-Synthesis pricing.