Attentive Media/ May 16, 2017/ Website Performance/ 0 comments

Does your content-rich website have the performance to hold your traffic’s attention? As demand on our time grows, we as website consumers often want the metaphorical “quick run in for a few things”. If your website can’t meet the time constraints of the modern surfer, then they will go elsewhere and you will miss out.

What Makes Optimization Important

There are a number of reasons to optimize your website, probably the most important to you is increasing traffic. However, when it comes to serving websites, today’s users visit from a varying range of devices and connection speeds. Applying optimization practices to your website regardless of whether your target audience is local or global is crucial to doing business online.

Consider the overall size in kilobytes of a given page on your website, and how long this will take to transfer over various connection speeds such as: FIOS, cable, and cellular. Through services like Google Analytics you can obtain insight on how your specific users visit your website, which will allow you to run tests specific to their needs.

While considering the speed, also consider the cost. Not everyone pays the same price for internet, and it changes dramatically when you cross international borders. Thanks to the brilliant developers at WebPageTest.org you can easily see an estimate of these numbers, check it out: https://whatdoesmysitecost.com/. If you find a page is resulting in high costs, such as a landing page or lead capture page, place extra attention on running tests specific to those.

Performance Optimization Testing

Image of generic performance report

Getting to know your website’s performance takes careful review. When available there really is no match for testing on physical devices, but this is not always an option. When this occurs, running synthetic tests provides the next best approach. The following are some of the top resources that developers, including us, use to analyze the various elements that effect performance.

GTmetrix
Page Speed Insights
WebPageTest
YSlow

Each gives a different set of results. Combined, the picture becomes clear regarding what areas need the most attention. Top “issues” can be addressed by commonly used plugins, and elements like caching static elements can require a more programmatic solution.

What We Recommend

There are so many plugins out there that it can get a bit confusing as to which to use. We firmly believe in the sharing is caring philosophy, and would like to highlight a couple of the plugins we use in our projects to help boost performance. We even use these in our own website!

WP Super Cache

Taking the lean approach, WP Super Cache creates static HTML versions of your website pages to rapidly serve content to your users. Rather than making users wait for the server to gather resources on every request, serving a static HTML file is one of the fastest ways to get your content to their eyeballs.

If we had to say one bad thing about this plugin it would be that it is almost too awesome! A cache cleanup is often needed to see changes right away; however, we feel this is a small price to pay for glorious speed!

Scripts To Footer

With performance optimization there are true performance boosts, and there are perceived performance boosts. That is to say, the website appears to load more quickly even though the total load time remains unchanged. One of the best ways to achieve this is by eliminating render blocking content like scripts by moving them to the footer. In doing this, the main HTML and styles load sooner, making the website appear to load faster.

The Scripts to Footer plugin handles things beautifully by moving (most) script tags generated by your site to the bottom of the content. Simple to install and setup, and simply awesome!

A Word of Caution

Increasing the performance of your website requires addressing the underlying components to ensure each are running optimally, and in harmony. However, be cautious as there really is such a thing as over-optimization. Optimizing should first and foremost be about ensuring that the website begins and completes loading in a reasonable amount of time for your users. It really should never be about obtaining a score on a metrics providers performance review.

In Conclusion

There really is no one best way to optimize a website, but there is one thing that is certain, all websites can benefit from it. Take the time to review your website’s performance, making sure to go through all the keys pages, and then take a look around the WordPress ecosystem. You might be surprised to find that someone has already addressed a need with a freely available plugin.

If you have any questions regarding how we can provide assistance in this area we would love to hear from you. Hop on over to the contact page let us know how we can help.


Disclaimer

We are not affiliated with the providers of the plugins or websites listed above. If you choose to use any of these it is at your own accord, and we can not be held responsible should they result in damages or losses to your person, business, organization or otherwise.

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