WP-Tonic Live: The Meaning of Speed

October 17, 2014

Google Hangout “The Meaning of Speed”.

The main topic of the Hangout is going to be the “The Meaning of Speed!” What are the key features you got to get right that will make a WordPress powered website really fast in the eyes of Google PageSpeed Insights?

Here’s our great WordPress Expert Panel for this month’s WP-Tonic Google HOA Show.

Adam Silver: of  Kichensinkwp.com

Adam Silver owns & operates Silver Lining Productions based in Redondo Beach. He occupies his days as a social media manager, website developer & photographer. He also runs the South Bay WordPress Meetup and shares what he knows over at kitchensinkwp.com with a weekly podcast.

John Locke: of LockedownDesign.com

John Locke is a WordPress developer and web consultant based in Sacramento, CA. He empowers entrepreneurs and business owners to greater success by improving their websites and helping them with an effective web strategy.

David Laietta: of OrangeBlossomMedia.com

I started OBM in January of 2009 to finally put an official name for the freelance work that I’d been doing. I organize the Orlando WordPress Meetup, as well as WordCamp Orlando. Education is truly a passion of mine, as is crafting tools to allow for as simple an interaction between my clients and their websites as possible.

Chad Bush: of Raven’s Eye Design.com

Raven’s Eye Design is run solely by Chad Bush, and I offer a wide range of skills and diverse professional experience. I also have a network of other experts I often collaborate with when complementary skills are appropriate.

The Meaning of  WordPress Speed!

Speed has become very important; not only for Google but also for website consumers. Anybody that comes to a website today expects to see pages loading quickly.

Here’s a dirty little secret that the WordPress community doesn’t really want to talk about in public. WordPress has a bit of reputation of being a speed dog.

See, in the wider community of professional Web designers and developers, WordPress has a bit of a dirty reputation of being a “real performance dog.”

Why is this, and is it fair criticism?

I think there are basically 4 factors that have contributed to this situation and to what I feel is a semi-unfair reputation.

1) Badly coded themes

2) Badly coded plug-ins

3) ThemeForest

4) An enormous desire for Bling-Bling connected to web design

Badly Coded Themes and Plugins

One of WordPress’s greatest strengths has been how easy it is, compared to other content management systems (CMS), to start making themes and plug-ins. This is great and I personally wouldn’t want this to fundamentally change. However, there has been a price to pay for this level of flexibility and i.e. we have ended up in a kind of “wild west marketplace” when it comes to WordPress themes and plug-ins. Automattic, the commercial company behind WordPress, has developed more coding advice and structure in the WordPress.org main theme repository, which it directly controls.

Obviously being that we’re dealing with open source controlled project that’s under a GPL licence, this means that Automattic can only really control what is directly under its supervision. Also most of the leading WordPress theme shops over the past 18 moths have improved they basic coding standards.

The situation when it comes to plug-ins is still not ideal and more structure and supervision needs to be introduced by Automattic.

Basically these factors and others have led to a lot of poorly coded WordPress themes and plug-ins.

I don’t like using totally free plug-ins that come from the WordPress plug-in repository. I like the ability of trying out a free version that has some of the usable and key functionality of the premier version, but having a commercial plug-in developer/company backing the a key plug-in functionality that I’m going to use either on my own or on client’s websites is semi-reassuring.

However, there are a key number of freely available plug-ins that have no real usable commercial alternative. Which I find I use on my own and client’s websites — in my mind this is not an ideal situation.

I would like to see Automattic much more involved in offering some sort of support and insurance connected to this group of key but freely available plug-ins.

I know people in the WordPress community will say that if a plug-in is really popular and the original developer stops supporting the plug-in, somebody else in the community will take over developing for that particular plug-in; in my experience this has mostly been the case. However, there have been a number of plug-ins that offered really key functionality that have just been left in “no man’s land” for a period of time.

ThemeForest

I feel slightly a bit of a hypocrite here because I have bought a number of commercial themes for projects over the past five years from ThemeForest. However nowadays I try to avoid doing this and try to either develop from my own starter developer theme or go to a selection of apart half a dozen WordPress commercial WordPress theme shops that I trust their coding standards.

Slobodan Manic had something quite interesting to say about ThemeForest.

“There’s no way around it, some of the stuff sold at ThemeForest would never, ever make it into WordPress.org repository of free WordPress themes. Let me say that again: Some of the themes sold at Envato are not good enough to be given away for free.”

Don’t get me wrong – Envato, the parent company of ThemeForest and its CEO Collis Ta’eed are not the “the devil incarnate” as some in the WordPress community make him out to be.

However, in my mind Collis and his company are damaging WordPress. See its not really the “idea of a marketplace” that is the problem in my mind, but it’s the fact that Collis decided for commercial reason not to be that concerned or involved with the quality of the plug-ins and themes that his company were allowing to be sold on the ThemeForest website.

However — and this is really a tough question — is it really the job of a marketplace to police the quality of individual products that are sold on its platform? Envato allows user to leave on-line reviews and is quite open on what themes are selling well and which one are not.

Users can read and do loads of research and educate themselves on which theme might be a good choice for their project. However I would still highly criticize Collis and his management team of ThemeForest. But, I would also strongly disagree of Automattic decision “so far” not to develop it own real competitor to ThemeForest.

This has given the commercial oxygen, which Envato has needed to develop its market platform.

So the main three factors I would say that have contributed to WordPress having a reputation of being a “speed dog” are poorly written themes and plug-ins, and also allowing a third party marketplace to get too much market share that basically didn’t care that much on what it was selling to the general public.

Also you have to take into account compared to its direct competitors WordPress has a much larger marketing share then all of it main rivals combined.

However lets say you bought a theme from a respected independent WordPress theme shop and you are looking to increase its loading speed — what are the areas you should look at?

The Key Factors That Can Improve Your Page and Website Loading Times

I’m going to list a number of factors that I look at connected to speed when I am trying to improve page loading times for my own and client’s websites. I’m not going to order these factors in any order of importance.

1) If you have deactivated plug-ins remove them

If you have plug-ins that you are not using — i.e. they are deactivated completely — remove them. Even a plug-in that’s deactivated is still loaded in memory and in the header.

2) Clean Up Your Database

You can use these WordPress plug-ins to clean up your database up or disable options *

WP-Optimize

Disabler

WP DBManager

When you install or remove plug-ins or post and pages, not all the data are removed from your WordPress database and over time these data builds up and is reloading in memory — this can really slow down your website.

* Please don’t use any of these plug-ins without making a totally backup of your WordPress database beforehand.

3) Us a Cache Plug-in

A lot of WordPress users either use W3 Total Cache or Super cache.

However, the one that I use is Comet Cache.

4) General Good Quality Hosting

Bluehost

Hostgator

Specialize WordPress Hosting

Flywheel

Pagely

WPEngine

My personal recommendation is SiteGround.

Here’s a good independent review of SiteGround’s WordPress hosting solutions.

5) Don’t Run Plug-ins That You Don’t Really Need

Don’t run plug-ins that you don’t really need.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that it is quantity that is the real problem when it comes to WordPress plug-ins. No it’s the quality of the plug-ins that you run which is the real problem.

You can use this plug-in to find slow running plug-ins. P3 Plugin Performance Profiler Plugin.

6) CDNs & Accelerators

Using content delivery networks (CDNs) and Web performance optimization (WPO) services can speed up your slow WordPress site; these are a great idea but be careful which one you use.

A lot of people use CloudFlare because the basic level is free.

7) Optimize Your Images

WP Smush.It

Speed Testing Tools *

Google PageSpeed Insights

Pingdom Tools

GTmetrix

  • Here’s a an excellent free testing tool where you can take a snapshot before you use any of the plug-ins I have outlined and then see if you are getting a improvement connected to page loading times.

Resources

http://wpfreesetup.com/how-to-speed-up-wordpress- website/

http://www.rackaid.com/blog/fix-slow-sites/ http://www.rackaid.com/blog/speed-up-website/

http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/why-trying-to-get- 95-on-google-pagespeed-insights-will-drive-you-mad/

http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/web-hosting- review-so-just-who-is-the-best/

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