Content Management System Comparison: Performance Optimization

In the age of “on demand” access, nothing is more frustrating than a slow page load time. Your customers agree. In fact, 57% of online consumers will abandon a site after waiting three seconds for a page to load (source: Joshua Bixby). This may seem impatient, but the reality is poor performance directly translates into lost sales.

Content Management Systems (CMS) are widely used for web development. While these platforms offer dynamic functionality, the systems are robust and clunky, and often reduce page speed to a turtle’s pace. Fortunately, there are solutions for optimizing the performance of your CMS website.

The following are a handful of optimization solutions, for three of the most popular CMS platforms.


This platform has users of all technical levels. The following are simple solutions that nearly anyone can perform to increase the speed of a WordPress website.

  • Remove unused plugins. During development, multiple plugins may have been installed and subsequently shelved. Uninstalling and deleting those plugins will help to remove unnecessary scripts. On that note, keeping plugins to a minimum (3-4 maximum) will also reduce the number of scripts and database queries, helping to increase the speed at which your pages load.
  • Combine multiple CSS files. Clearly, requiring your system to access one file (rather than multiple) will increase speed.
  • Minimize jscript calls in the header. Headers in WordPress are inherently cluttered. Cleaning the scripts in the header might seem overwhelming at first, but the WordPress community has offered great solutions for those who are less technically savvy. HeadCleaner or WPMinify are both great plugins that can drastically increase your page load time.


Many Joomla users are more advanced than those using WordPress. Accordingly, the following performance optimization solutions are more technical in nature.

  • Compress jscript and CSS files. Gzip compression will reduce large files to more manageable sizes. Dependent upon how much data is being compressed, this form of compression may require too much CPU usage. You’ll need to consider your server capabilities and CPU requirements when testing this solution.
  • Cache queries. CMS platforms are constantly pulling queries from your stored database (navigation structure, menus, content, posts, etc.) Consider using Query Cache or a similar plugin that uses memory based caching to free up resources and speed the load time.
  • Joomla Caching System. If you’d rather not use a plugin, located within “Global Configuration > System” of the admin area is an internal caching system. This is turned off by default, but is worth enabling and configuring.


Both Drupal and Joomla are much more robust CMS platforms. While this increases the flexibility for development, the correlation is a larger, bulkier system (yes, this does often mean a decrease in performance). The following plugins offered by the Drupal community are great steps to achieving optimization, but installation will require advanced technical knowledge.

  • Boost. This plugin will give a major “boost” to your speed by applying cache and Gzip compression to html, xml, ajax, css and javascript files.
  • DB Maintenance Module. Optimization of your database helps to defragment and speed up the rate at which queries are accessed and processed.

At a certain point, your website may become so large that no amount of optimization can successfully handle the concurrent requests. In these instances, offloading may become the best means of optimization. By delivering resource heavy content (photos, video) via multiple servers, such as a Content Delivery Network like Akamai, will make your pages load more quickly form the user’s perspective.

Good luck, and enjoy the improved performance of your website.

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