Great talk by WordPress Toledo Meetup organizers: Vagish Vela and Greg Miller. This was a fantastic charity event for Horizon Youth Theatre. Greg and Vagish examined their website from a performance standpoint and then discussed the results and how they were achieved at this great talk!
Why focus on website performance? Our site seems fine!
The talk began with Vagish explaining why site performance matters. Better user experience due to faster sites makes Google happy, which in turn results in higher search engine rankings! A better performing site has a domino effect from the user all the way to the owner of the site! Faster, better performing websites have a reduced Ad Spend because in essence the cost per click is affected if a site is slow, and no site owner wants that! A faster site also reduces bandwidth because each visitor downloads less which is especially important on mobile devices. All of these factors result in higher conversions for the site owner and that is the main goal of the majority of websites. The business makes more money from a better converting / performing website!
Greg explained how some sites have plugins or extra code that are typically known for adding bloat and commonly slow sites down, a common one being a big slider at the top of a landing page.
GT Metrix as the Analysis Tool
Greg and Vagish utilized GT Metrix, which is a free analysis tool. They scanned the site right at the beginning to get a frame of reference. GT Metrix is comprised of 2 different rulesets; those being: Google Page Speed and Yahoo. Greg explained that they both ‘look’ at the same thing but they see it differently and thus the evaluations are also different.
A First Analysis
Actions Taken to Improve Website Performance
- Set up staging
- Set up backups
- Added a plugin: WP Rocket, paid plugin
- Added caching
- File optimization
- Enable lazy loading of media
- Optimize the database
- Adding a CDN: Cloudflare, free
Greg is cautious to explain how making changes and testing a site should never be done on the live site initially, so a copy of the site was made on a staging site, and always adding backups as additional insurance!
Cloudflare is the free CDN that Greg and Vagish used. They explained how it further optimizes the delivery of the site’s resources by routing a site’s traffic from a server in closer proximity and prevents a site from being bombarded by malicious traffic like bots; and did I mention it’s FREE?
Analysis of Staging Site After Performance Enhancing Work
Greg and Vagish demonstrated how their work on the website show approximately a 75% reduction in server resources which resulted in a much faster site. This speed increase will further reduce bounce rate and increase conversions as previously mentioned.
They both cautioned that there is still work to do though, that being developing an image compression plan including the all current and future images, tracking the site in the future and following up with GT Metrix or some other tool periodically, to ensure that the site’s performance remains intact.
Greg Miller and Vagish Vela spoke about and completed initial work on the Horizon Youth Theatre website to greatly enhance its performance. By using a staging site, one paid plugin and a free CDN they were able to pave the way for this site to deliver a higher performing website and better user experience!