Yesterday’s obsession project turned out to be WordPress page speed improvement. I some how got on this path last night and stayed on it for hours trying different speed tests and trying to improve the ranking of mine and my employer’s sites. Here is one of the reference articles I used:
This had a lot of good advice about plugins and what everything was. I set up gzip compression, smushed my images, regenerated my thumbnails, minified my scripts and got a site caching plugin. There’s still issues popping up on the site speed tests though. Some of those tests give brutal results! I used this one the most:
I honestly don’t know how reliable these tests are. I get a different load time every time and different scores and stats for different speed tests. Whatever, I can tell it improved. I don’t remember what it was at first but, I know its better. I think the initial page was over 5M. I know my employers initial page was over 10M. Its not about half the size. That front page is super thick with Divi stuff and image sliders and carousels. It is tricked out to the moon and back to catch people’s attention visually. Its great that its twice as fast now though! Even if its not a high scoring page.
Here are the test results from Solarwinds pingdom and here is the site link to that test:
This speed test gave me a much better load time but the test server is in San Francisco whereas the previous test server was I think in Canada. But, all the numbers are different. So, go figure. I guess each one has different criteria it is testing for.
I also installed and tested a bunch of plugins to help me optimize my site. I did not keep every plugin I downloaded. I have had some problems with caching plugins in the past. Specifically I had trouble with Swift. On some of my client’s sites this plugin would cause the site to become stuck and hang. I don’t know why. I had to stop using it. Maybe someday I will know why. I’ll show you what plugins I ended up keeping. Everything I used is free. Yay free!
I used the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin. I’ve been using this. I’m pretty sure WordPress creates a number of different sizes of images that you upload. But, sometimes you install different stuff like WooCommerce or whatever that require specific image sizes but, you have existing images on your site that aren’t exactly the right size to work with that plugin. You can use this plugin to regenerate your image sizes. Sometimes when building with Elementor or Divi you use a blurb or other module that has a max image size of like 400px. You don’t want to use an image that’s 1200px for that. WordPress let’s you choose a smaller size. This came up a lot in the speed tests. I’m still working on this.
Caching and Crunching
Another plugin I ended up keeping was WP-Optimize. I used this for the page caching, the image compression and the database optimization. It also works with the .htaccess file to set up the GZIP compression. The plugin uses an external service to smush the images. I had like 400 images to compress it took hours. My employer’s site had over 900 images. It took so long to do this. I got a lot out of these features though. I think this plugin had the most impact on the site performance scores. But, it took a lot of time. It was automated though. I didn’t really have to sit on top of it.
I want to add that inside my Cpanel there was software available for optimizing the website. I chose the “Compress All Content” option via Cpanel. This is all new to me but I think this did most of the same stuff as the GZIP compression. I think WP-Optimize told me that I already had this feature turned on when I turned it on. It was late and I was doing two sites at once and it was all experimental so, I don’t have perfect recall on the whole process. It was just me unsupervised running wild with plugin and speed test exploration. I learn more from just rolling head first into stuff than I do pussy footing around stuff and being afraid to touch anything. It can cause problems but, I have Updraft.