We recently had a client come to us and say “Our WordPress site is slow. Can you help?” The answer, of course was “Yes!”
In fact, we improved the site’s performance by a factor of 7.5.
In other words, the sites is 7.5 times faster than it was before we started working on it.
The Client : Solaire Generation
After digging around, we noticed a few things :
- It was running on cheap, shared hosting
- It was running an old version of WordPress, and had outdated plugins.
This situation is actually pretty typical, and we see it quite a bit. Running an old version of WordPress is bad. Really bad. But that’s a whole different topic. Let’s just focus on the speed for this post.
I’m assuming you already know why it’s important for your site to be fast and secure. But – if you need convincing, here are a few links :
- An article on Copyblogger outlines Why Speed Matters
- Google says it’s important (from the google blog)
- Marissa Mayer (former Googler, Current Yahoo CEO) says it’s important
- Faster sites increase conversion rates (i.e. you get more customers)
So – enough links – here’s the overview of what we did to optimize performance on this particular site :
- First – we observed and measured. It was important to measure how slow the site actually was, and get a benchmark in place.
- Then – identify what we can improve immediately.
The first tool we used for this was Pingdom.
What kind of improvements did we make?
- Updated all outdated software (including WordPress plugins)
- Did a security scan and removed all security vulnerabilities
- Migrated to better, faster hosting
- Compressed files and scripts
- Setup caching and CDN’s
If this is Greek to you, just check out the images below…
The Before Picture
Key points :
– The site was taking almost 4 seconds to load
– It was “faster” than 39% of sites on the web (and slower than 61%)
You can actually see the initial report here.
And the After picture?
– The site now takes about .5 seconds to load.
– It’s now faster than 96% of sites on the web.
We have all been thrilled with the results.
- Pingdom (to set the benchmarks and review the site)
- Cloudflare (makes things faster – particularly CDN & DNS)
- Varnish Caching (server-side caching)
- Using NGINX on our WP Engine server
- Better WordPress Minify (a WordPres plugin)
- Our eyes and ears
- Time and patience
The above tools were very helpful in diagnosing, monitoring, and improving the site’s performance. Migrating the site to a better host (WP Engine) also made a HUGE difference. Without a doubt. But it was just one part of the bigger puzzle. Caching, CDN’s, plugins, and other optimizations are all key. The real secret, though, includes tweaking, ongoing maintenance, and general persistence.
Want to see how we can make your site faster, more secure, and generally more stable? Get in touch and we’ll give you a free, personalized analysis of your site. We love doing this stuff and would be happy to take a look at your site!
Questions? Tips? Leave a comment below!
PS – a big mighty thanks to the folks over at WP Engine for helping us out so much!