Page Speed Obsession … What I learned

how to improve the speed of your site I read this post about how to improve the speed of your site and quickly became obsessed with Google PageSpeed Insights.

My goal was to exceed post-author Raelene Wilson’s 91 and if possible reach her goal of 95. I did manage to reach to 95 but doing so was at the expense of plugins I wanted to keep.  So my homepage is now sitting uncomfortably at 94 for desktop.  I was able to achieve 95 for learnwp.ca. Adding new plugins and making theme edits will affect this.

If you’re ready to become obsessed too,  check your site’s page speed here.

Improve your WordPress Site’s Page Speed …

We know that page speed is important both for user experience and as a factor for Google ranking, but how do you get a great result? These four steps will walk you through how I achieved my success.

1. Start with a great host

My site is starting with a big advantage, it is hosted with WP Engine [affiliate link]. WP Engine hosting services custom-built their own caching technology to deliver faster WordPress websites. I’m thrilled with the support, security and speed my site enjoys with WP Engine.

If you are with a different host you’ll need a caching plugin such as W3Total Cache.

2. Optimize images for the web

Optimizing images may make the most significant performance improvement you’ll see.  An optimized image will use less browser resources, displaying the content faster on the client’s screen. The best way is to losslessly compress your images with an image editing program. Play with the quality slider provided by the “Save for Web” functionality in Adobe Photoshop. You can see significant file size savings without negatively impacting the visual results.

Photon is a free image CDN (Content Delivery Network) offered by Jetpack. A CDN is a service that can help the static content on your site (images, CSS, Javascript) load faster (learn more about CDN’s here). Photon looks at the image width and height attributes and then serves the image resized to those dimensions or to the width of the containing element (whichever is smaller). I played with this on a development site but the thumbnail images vanished.

Apparently if your server takes too long to upload the image to Photon, the upload will time out and your image will appear to be broken. If this happens you’ll need to upload the image again but edit it so the file is smaller and make sure you give it a different name.  If I’m going to re-size the images anyway I would prefer to optimize it for the web myself. UPDATE:  Read about the Kraken plugin here

Raelene’s post talks about CDN options and mentions some plugins for image optimization.  I haven’t tested these.

Regularly check PageSpeed insights. New WordPress plugins and images can slow down your site.Click To Tweet

3. Remove any plugins you don’t need

I  deactivated features of Jetpack that I don’t use.  I didn’t have any plugins that I wasn’t using, but if you do you might as well delete them. I checked the warnings from the page speed insights and realized that a few of the plugins that were causing a drain were ones I could live without, so I removed them. Give this a try and see how your results improve.

4. Autoptimize

I also played with the Autoptimize plugin.  You’ll need to clear your browser cache and test between each change you make.

Optimizing the JavaScript broke my site’s mobile menu.  I was able to fix this with the help of the plugin author through the WordPress.org forum.  The solution was to add the .js file that controls my responsive menu to the exclude field through the advanced tab.

Continue to test and review your site’s performance

When running WordPress website you have to be continually vigilant. Adding a new plugin and especially adding new images can drastically change the way your site performs.

Were you able to improve your site’s speed?

Please add a comment below. I would be interested to know what you did to improve your score.  What worked for you? What score were you able to achieve?

Page speed is important both for user experience & as a factor for Google ranking. Get a great result with 4 stepsClick To Tweet
8 comments on “Page Speed Obsession … What I learned
  1. I ran this article through Page Speed and got a score of just 80. I noticed your home page scores 94 though so I’m guessing that’s where you focused?

    • Ruth Maude says:

      Yes Marios I haven’t focused on every page/post in my site. Going forward I will pay more attention. I optimized an image and now I get 86 for this post for desktop – not bad.

  2. Steve Mark says:

    This is a very helpful article for improving the speed of WordPress site. Thanks

  3. Anny says:

    After reading this article i have improve the speed of my wordpress site.

  4. Excellent guidelines for boosting WordPress website’s speed. Today, improving website’s speed has become extremely important to Google and a majority of website’s visitors. If website loads slowly, then visitors leave website quickly and it can be loss in business.

  5. Smithesh says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I believe improving site’s speed is important as slow loading speed may disappoint visitors especially those who are accessing mobile phones. I think using too many images also hampers loading speed, hence it is better to keep site simple with minimum text and images.

  6. Mark Stahl says:

    Hi Ruth,

    This was a very helpful article, managed to improved my page speed by 50%, so thanks. Was wondering if you knew any other good website speed tests like Google Page Speed Insights? I managed to find http://www.giftofspeed.com via google which comes close but I’m looking for other good websites. You know of any? Thanks! Mark

  7. David king says:

    Thanks. I must apply these while the development on the new website.

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