WordPress Performance- make your site SIZZLE!-Part 1

WordPress Performance for your site.

WordPress is open source software and there is a thriving Wordpress community that likes to help each other, with that same sense of openness.

I have been playing around on this site to try and get it faster… I noticed that it had become extremely slow.

Also- being in South Africa, which is the community that the site is supposed to serve, and my host/server in the US, it has become important to “speed” it up.

I have had to read a lot of information on optimising wordpress and so on, therefore, in the interests of passing on some of what I have read (and to access it again, should I ever decide to start a new site)- I decided to do it via a blog post on the site (as a lot of businesses have wordpress websites and could use some of this information).

Before, I shout my mouth off, let me go onto chrome (I still like Internet Explorer) and pull up a GTMetrix.com report on the site- so that you can see the site is reasonably quick (i.e. that I am not talking a load of bull).

Below is a screenshot of this.

Once off page load time in Vancouver, Canada of 0.7 seconds (why Vancouver when I am in SA? Because that is the default on GtMetrix.com and I said that I will enter and pull up whatever comes up). (111 posts and 6 pages).

Gt Metrix businessowner-cover.com
Screen shot GT Metrix businessowner-cover.com

 

This is going to be a long post, to try and keep all the relevant information in one place. Also, as I am writing this off the cuff (as I often do), it will make things easier to keep a logical order.

So, a Table of Contents will be in order:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Introduction Part 2.
  3. Fastest WordPress Theme.
  4. Good Host
  5. CDN- Content delivery network
  6. What Speed should I aim for?
  7. Part 2– How do I start? (to be another posting)

1. Introduction

A lot of people are using WordPress as their sites content management system, to create their sites.

I built this site on a Godaddy $5 “create a website” package years ago. The site (on that godaddy package) achieved good rankings (can’t remember what it was in South Africa)- BUT I do know that I could leave the desk, go somewhere and I would constantly be getting contact forms for enquiries re medical aid, gap cover, life cover, short term insurance and so on… and literally every couple of minutes they would be coming in.

A LOT of web designers and so on told me the site was ugly and that they could spruce it up for me and do SEO for me and so on. However, not one of them told me that they could increase it’s effectiveness in bringing in leads for contact- note for web designers- keep the “Goal” / end result in mind.

Anyway, I didn’t want to mess with a winning combination (I was actually selling the contacts back to the companies being enquired about!).

AND, a VERY BIG AND… in my mind it is not site design that draws people. It is the search for relevant, informational and interesting content.

Actually, the KEY to all of this is to have interesting content, with a good site structure. (I have nowhere near what I intended back up on this site- in case you are judging- In terms of content).

Think about how you are, when you are really interesting in a subject and you find a site, that is extremely ugly and has bad UX design- but is sooo interesting. What do you do? (I know that I stay and look for more information).

Why have I changed this site?

Well, Godaddy used to have a site and blog in one (much like you have now with wordpress), they allowed for hosting your videos on the site (way before others in the mainstream had anything comparable), they gave you a podcast player and you could even load up your podcast to iTunes … which I did. All this was before people were generally looking for this… and facebook had only just begun (that’s a song I think).

Then… obviously as people realised they could do this (probably heavy videos that killed the system), Godaddy removed the blog functionality (I therefore had to find another home), the video and podcast functionality went with it.

That’s why I went with WordPress (simply, as I knew a lot of people were using it and it is flexible).

I did everything wrong, i.e.- I was just too busy to get it done (the site transferred properly) and therefore, the time came and went and in essence I lost most of the content that had the masses querying for information. This was pretty stupid… but when something is only in your head- no one else can do it for you… you have to make sure.

So, the site now, is basically a recreation, and this article is born of the  frustration I felt with “learning” something new… there is always a learning curve in new things. Actually scratch that, with the way technology is going- there is always a learning curve- so, don’t take anything for granted as change is the constant.

I also need to stress that I am in no way qualified in anything on the web. This information I gleaned from the web. I started / did this a few months ago (attempting to get the page speed up)- so I have forgotten a ton of the information and I will try and remind myself as I go along.

The point being is that in the overall perspective, this should help give some of you a “big picture” view and you can google each element yourself.

(oh, another aside: I have this site and magiciansandmagic.com- so sometimes I am not only referring to this specific site and the change may have been done on either site. I am in fact reminding myself through this post how to correct the magic site and get it faster, when I have the time).


2. Introduction- WordPress Performance Part 2

I have been disturbed a few times in trying to write this post and it is now a few days later, early in the morning/ late at night.

So, let me try and start again.

Even though the scope of this article is WordPress Performance, I have assumed a few things.

  1. The article is intended for people that are not that tech savvy, but want to make their site gain traction (traffic) and get organic leads (hopefully).
  2. You have set up your site with the standards, like registered with google, bing and yandex; have a SEO plugin; created a sitemap, etc. etc.
  3. You have certain “standard”plugins: like Yoast SEO (recommended); Redirection (if not using Yoast premium plugin); Jetpack; Akismet (or another spam one designed for speed); a caching plugin and the like.
  4. A well designed theme first of all (light and fast theme, compatible with woo commerce if you are going to use for a shop).
  5. A Good host, that is proactive in security and speed and has a good customer service to help you.
  6. Thereafter, once you have some content up and have started worrying a bit about loading speed of your site, you would be looking at this article.

3. Fastest WordPress Theme

There are so many themes out there, I can guarantee you will be pulling your hair out (unless you are already bald).

Tons of things you should be taking into consideration: What functions do you need, are you going to have an online shop (what online shop software are you going to use), what is the main function of your site, what size is the theme that you are looking at and on and on.

So… before you continue looking at themes and hassling developers (if you are a bit anal- like someone I know)… go ahead and do yourself a favour.

Decide what your site is going to contain, while you are about it- go ahead and do some keyword research. Come up with a site structure. YOU WILL THANK ME LATER.

I like to think of a website like a book, with the Table of Contents being where you will store relevant information about each chapter. Online store, same thing- different aisles where you combine your products.

Now, once you are happy with this- you will know what questions to ask about a theme and what you need to be able to do.

I have found a theme that I am very happy with.

It is fast, the developer is highly interactive and develops with function AND speed in mind.

There are a few basic themes that you can choose from, i use the straight standard “generate press” theme.

You can buy a package of add-ons (the theme is free to download by itself), or buy add- ons that you want, one by one. (things like different typography, sections, different colour capabilities, second nav bar, copyright, spacing and lots more). It really makes sense to buy the add- ons, because you will want to use them.

I have nothing but good words to say about the developer  (the theme has grown substantially, so Tom the developer has hired additional staff)  and the theme itself.

I know I signed up for an affiliate code with them, let me find it and you can go have a look (and perhaps I can make some hosting fees back). Ah, here it is: Generatepress (go ahead and click)

Tom created a forum on the site and one of those articles is exactly about performance on his fastest wordpress theme: https://generatepress.com/fastest-wordpress-theme/?ref=213 ( a very interesting and helpful read).


4. Good Host

O.k., so you have a lightning fast theme, with very good functionality. However, without a good host, this is pointless.

Money and value for money is on everyone’s mind. However, as I mentioned above- you are going to be needing help, so you need:

A Good host, with good managed, cloud or dedicated servers- with a bigger need to be able to access help when you need it.

I have used Godaddy and another company (not for wordpress).

I decided to do my homework when recreating the magiciansandmagic.com site from another proprietory software (which is another reason I went for wordpress- being open source you can”carry” the site around- and are not stuck if something happens to the company or the proprietory software).

I read tons and tons of reviews and looked for the functions and so on.

I now use Siteground (I also signed up for their affiliate programme).

I rate their customer service as excellent, out of many (maybe in the 40 – 50 interactions) with them I only had one incident where I felt someone wasn’t interested in trying to help.(and he had come from another host- so perhaps it was just carry over from working for them).

Also, they use the latest hardware, and are very careful of security. They are starting new plans with PHP7 and actively promote lets encrypt certificates on their plans (so you can make use of https and speed up your site).

They have 3 basic managed wordpress plans, cloud and dedicated servers and are getting a lot of attention now for being so pro-active in their approach and their services.

So, go ahead and sign up for a plan with them… a lot of the suggestions given in this article, they will help you with.

P.s. if your site is a “local” site and you are not going to be using a CDN, also try to get a host situated as close to you as possible.


5. CDN- Content Delivery Network

What is this and why am I mentioning it?

A CDN will deliver your webpages and images, etc. from an area closest to your visitor- thereby speeding up the loading time of a webpage for your visitors considerably.

I am using a CDN (at the moment) with this site.

You get different types of CDN’s, I have not looked at all of them too closely. I am using Cloudflare as I know their network extends to China (which is where I hope to go in the future- the site hopes to go- not this one) and they have a server in Johannesburg. They also do security of your site. Oh, Siteground is also partnered with them, so the process should be slightly easier.

However, that being said, it was not a pleasant experience putting them on the site- for a couple of reasons which I am not going to go into in this article. BUT- they have sped up this site and are saving bandwidth.

They are free to use if you have a http site, if you are on siteground and have a https site, there will be a monthly fee.

However, the whole CDN issue, you should investigate separately.

SUFFICE IT TO SAY- that I intend for the wordpress site to be as fast as possible without a CDN (although some CDNS will also do some of the suggestions in this article automatically for you).


 6. What Speed should I aim for?

In my mind, you should be aiming for at least a 2 seconds mobile home page opening time.

We already know that mobile is where traffic is going, we know that people move on if your site loads too slowly. However, we also know that millions of people have no idea about speed of site and are creating heavy slow loading sites all the time.

So, just by thinking through this, your site will be better placed than most.

I say “home” page opening time– because most of your traffic will normally come through your home page. So, if your home page opens fast, it gives a quicker “look” into your site and people should accommodate slower loading pages a bit better.

Also, you may be using ads / banners etc. on your site, in which case you try to make sure they are not on the home page- but are still accommodated elsewhere in the site.


O.k. it is 3 in the morning and I have early appointments. Need to get a couple of hours sleep.

So, I will do the old trick and make this Part 1, with Part 2– starting with the how do I optimise my WordPress site for Performance being released on Sunday or Monday morning.

See you then!

WordPress Performance- make your site SIZZLE!-Part 1 was last modified: January 30th, 2017 by Kenny Williamson

1 thought on “WordPress Performance- make your site SIZZLE!-Part 1

  1. I did not understand a lot of computer jargon but i like the personal touches to the article- you are a real trooper.

Feel free to leave a comment.