In this series of articles, I will discuss what I’ve done with this site in particular, a working example on how to strip out the cruft to make a WordPress site lean and mean. Well, the code anyway, the content is up to the publisher.

  • Start with a Blank Theme. Many developers take an existing theme and tweak it to suit a particular need, leaving an excess of code and functionality in place that is no longer needed. For a new project, I always start with a blank theme, reducing development and debugging time in the long run.
  • Stripping the Cruft. Even with a bare-bones theme, there is still a lot of functionality most sites won’t need, and these can add up to excess resource usage. If you haven’t already, view the source code of this site. There are no references to wp-content/themes or wp-includes/js. All the URL’s are domain relative, not full domain URL’s, making it more portable and to W3C spec. There is no inline Javascript or style tags in the source code. I’ll cover some of the ways you can make your front end code lightweight and clean.
  • Add Basic Functionality. Out of the box, WordPress and a blank theme still needs a few items for SEO, load time, and visual elements. This article goes over a adding few basic items I’ll need for overall site structure and appearance, all without plugins.
  • Get Good with Shortcodes. Aside from it’s most outstanding feature – plugin capability – another extremely useful tool in WordPress is shortcode. Most users will add a plugin to add functionality, which can cause conflicts with other plugins or increase resource usage. In this article I’ll show you how I reduce plugin usage by a little coding in combination with shortcodes.

Let’s dig in. In the links below, I’ll walk through most of the construction steps for this web site.