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JCH Optimize (available from www.jch-optimize.net) is a very nice and simple plugin that can speed up your website speed considerably by minimizing HTTP-requests and size, optimizing Javascript, etc.. Actually, JCH Optimize is my favourite extension for speeding up my sites, including joomlaseo.com. Resources are loaded so much faster and more efficient. Best of all that it is completely free in the basic version. It is quite popular, and it is listed as one of the Community Choice winners on the JED.

You can activate various levels of the plugin, from conservative to very aggressive. Though on rare occasions some feautures could not work well with some templates or extensions, it is well worth trying it out, and see which features work well. Make sure to check the speed of your website before and after with  performance tools. You could be surprised by the results. Personally, it helped me to gain 100% scores in the Google Pagespeed Tool and Pingdom Tools.

Installation and configuration

First of all, download, install and activate the plugin. Then access the plugin and start configuring. In the Basic Options tab you see a set of presets that you can use:

For many users these presets may work fine, but personally I like to know exactly what I am doing. Lower down the page you see the Automatic Settings Group (click the text to open it up, this is sometimes not clear to everyone). These settings are first set based on the preset you chose, but you can also customize them manually:

Most of the parameters are pretty self-explanatary, especially with the help-text. Often I just activate all features. If the site keeps functioning, I leave it at that. If something breaks, I just switch of the parameter that causes it. If you're more carefull, work the other way around and start with all settings set to Off and then one by one switch them on. Especially the Defer javascript parameter sometimes breaks stuff, especially if your site is heavy with Javascripts. Also deferring sometimes breaks the collapsible bootstrap responsive menu on mobile devices.

Exclude options

Using the Exclude Options tab, you can even include or exclude parts or extensions of your site, either all extensions, or just very specific ones. The default setting is to exclude all extensions from being processed. Also play with this option. Depending on whether you have many third-party extensions or not, this can result in additional performance gain. You can also exclude individual files from being optimized, leaving the rest fully optimized. You can even choose to fully remove files that you know are useless anyhow. A candidate for this could be the Mootools Javascript files that are often loaded by Joomla without being used.

Pro features

The features in the Pro tab are not available for free users, but they offer even more functionality. I found those features very usefull. It concerns the following options:

  • Download ID: you can enter your download ID provided by JCH-Optimize for automatic updates (Watchful is supported)
  • CDN/Cookieless Domain: Support for Content Delivery Networks. You can even enter multiple CDN's
  • Lazy Load Images: this speaks for itself. You can also set images to be excluded based on class, folder or individual image
  • Optimize CSS Delivery: This is a bit of a hidden gem. Especially if you check your site with the Google Pagespeed Tool, you will often see that you are missing points for Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content. The only way to solve this is to break up your CSS in 2 parts, where the first part is included in the HTML. This is the CSS required to build the part of the page that is shown above-the-fold. The rest of the CSS should be loaded asynchronously after the page has loaded. This is exactly what this setting in JCH-Optimize aims to do.

Optimize Images

Finally, in the Optimize Images tab (only Pro-users), you will find an option to optimize your images with lossless compression and also a resize option:

This option only works if you have filled in your Download ID, as it connects to a service (Kraken.io I believe) and your ID is used for the API.

Check your site carefully

Make sure to check your site carefully after optimization. As said, sometimes stuff breaks without noticing right away. Possible issues can be:

  • Bootstrap responsive menu's not working
  • Issues with lower versions of Internet Explorer
  • Contact forms not working

By tuning carefully you can often find the parameter that causes the issue. Especially the settings regarding combining and deferring Javascript are the cause of the issue. Just switch off those options and leave the rest switched on then. As I said, for me the plugin really works insane, looking at my current performance scores in Pingdom Tools:

Downloads

The plugin can be downloaded and used for free, which is fine for many sites. The Pro-package contains some very interesting extra's though, so it's worth the money. You can buy subscription packages from $29 for half a year to $99 for lifetime access. This last one is probably the best value for money.

Download JCH-Optimize here

 Video

If you want you can also check a Youtube video about the plugin that I created:

By the way, you can find my full video series of Joomla Performance here on Udemy.com: https://www.udemy.com/joomla-performance-and-speed/?couponCode=JOOMLA-SEO