Even though W3 Total Cache seems to have become the more popular and robust option for WordPress caching, I’ve stuck by and continue to recommend WP Super Cache.

Why? In a word: simplicity.

Now I could write a big long entry on why simplicity trumps a crapton of options and flexibility, but I’d rather have a look at the options screen for each plugin.

We’ll start with WP Super Cache:

This is all you see when you visit the settings page post install. If you really wanted to, you could just turn caching on and call it a day. Of course, you could (and should) go poking around under the hood a bit – so let’s look at the Advanced tab:

So that’s a bit more extensive — and in some places, downright nerdy — but all of the crucial options stay above the fold. Furthermore, the blue button after the first set of check boxes and radio buttons does a pretty good job of saying “this is where all the really important stuff ends”.

Now let’s compare that to the options that W3 Total Cache presents to users post install:

While that’s pretty straightforward, it’s also a lot for someone who’s new to the plugin to take in. Not only that, it doesn’t really make it all that clear what the user should try if they’re getting started.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a me thing at all. As much as I could be a hater, I’m talking from experience here.

You see, I deal with a pretty significant number of WordPress users over the course of my work week. And there’s always a handful that are running W3 Total Cache that have enabled some combination of Varnish, CDN & CloudFlare. The only problem is, they don’t actually have access to any of the those services.

In most cases, they were told they needed to install a caching plugin, pronto. It’s not their fault if they’re taking a shotgun approach to using it. It’s the plugin author’s fault for not making things clearer.

So until W3 Total Cache gives end users a better out of the box experience, I’m going to keep running and recommending WP Super Cache. If you’re tired of being buried under an avalanche of options that you never use, I suggest you check it out.

Update: Frederick Townes responded on Twitter and claimed that W3 Total Cache was incomplete and sporting the “advanced” UI. Hopefully they’ll be able to roll out something a little more end user friendly soon.