Country Music Nation Speed Optimization Case Study

Site Speed Optimization Case Study – www.countrymusicnation.com

Site Speed Optimization Case Study - Country Music NationMy next speed optimization case study is based on Country Music Nation, hosted on WP Engine. It is a huge website containing lots of posts and media files. This WordPress site also deploys Woo themes framework.

As a rule of thumb, we took the entire backup of the website before optimizing it for speed. Never ever forget to backup your site before making any changes to it.

As in my other speed optimization case studies, I took the entire backup of this case study site before moving further. I moved ahead to diagnose the site to find out its speed related issues. My site speed diagnosis is aimed at digging all the speed related issues clouding over the site.

By diagnosing the site at some online speed testing tools such as GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools and Webpagetest, I get access to speed test reports. It helps me understand the bottlenecks pulling the site down on speed meters. I follow a very easy and simple site speed optimization methodology.

Analyze speed test reports, list down all the bottlenecks caught in speed test reports and resolve it one by one. Most of these speed pulling factors are either removed or at least reduced to have the minimum impact on site load speed.

You can also have a look at my two related posts – Importance of Webhost Servers on site speed and Impact of WordPress plugins on page load time to gain some deep insights.

Step 1 : Speed Optimization Case Study Site Diagnosis

Let us start with the site speed optimization process by taking initial site speed test reports at some of the online site speed testing tools.

Initial Speed Test Report at GTmetrix

Initial site speed test report at GTmetrixGTmetrix Speed Test Report Link

Page Speed Grade: (90%) A
YSlow Grade: (76%) C

Page load time: 3.93 s

Total page size: 1.06 MB

Total number of requests: 69

Initial Speed Test Report at Pingdom Tools

Initial Site speed test report at GTmetrixPingdom Tools Speed Test Report Link

Page size 1.1MB
Load time 2.02 s

Requests 77
Perf. grade 70/100

Your website is faster than 70% of all tested websites

Initial Speed Test Report at Webpagetest

Initial Webpagetest speed reportWebpagetest Report Link

First Byte Time : A | Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : B | Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : F | Cache static content : C

Effective use of CDN : YES

First View 2.292 s
Repeat View 1.529 s

Site speed test reports are looking good, although quite unstable. The site load time varies across a wide range. Sometimes, the website gets loaded very fast while at some other time, the site loads quite slowly. As a WordPress site speed optimizer, I can never leave site speed optimization for chance. Page load time should not variate outside a permissible range of time frame.

Getting at the root of this instability issue is my main objective. I aim to cure the site against its speed related issues, just like many other sites listed in my speed optimization portfolio.

Step 2 : Keep Everything on Site Updated to Latest Versions

Looking at the Dashboard of our case study site, I saw that the site was not updated to the latest WordPress version. Moreover, too many WordPress plugins were active on the site and even Woo themes framework was not updated to its latest version.

Updating your WordPress site to the latest version not only secures your site against many known/unknown vulnerabilities, but it also keeps your site page load time under the permissible limits. Since regular WordPress updates are aimed at improving old routines and functions, updating your website regularly improves your site speed performance to a great extent.

First of all, I updated the entire website, including WordPress core as well as Woo themes framework. I also made a list of all the WordPress plugins which were active on the site. I will review these plugins later to see what can be removed without effecting site functionality.

Step 3 : Modify Site on Test Server before Deploying Changes to Live Site

I don’t prefer making changes to a live site. During modifications, the site goes in an unstable state and I don’t want site visitors experience an unstable website undergoing changes. Moreover, optimizing a site for speed also involves lot of experimentation to check what works on a specific site and what does not works on it. A site development node which is entirely separate from the live site is highly recommended.

WP Engine offers a staging environment whereby we can copy the entire site on a development platform known as Staging. The url of staging site is different from the live site. It gets easier for us to optimize the staging site for speed and test it before deploying changes to the live site.

In this case study, we tried a different approach. Instead of making changes to the staging site, we decided to work on the live site while keeping the staging site as a backup of the original site. My decision of considering staging site as backup site was based on the fact that I wanted to experiment a few things related to cache and CDN, possible only on a live site.

Before moving ahead on my journey to site speed optimization, I copied the entire site to Staging environment. Next, I took a backup of MySQL live DB before running OPTIMIZE TABLE on DB. I also deployed SFTP for secure file transfer to the site. Also took a backup of the two most important files used by WordPress, namely .htaccess and wpconfig.php.

I disabled CDN and caching to understand site behavior in its raw form. A GTmetrix site speed test was performed to analyze the speed performance of this case study site, although after switching off caching and CDN.GTmetrix test report after deactivating CDN and caching

Site was missing its favicon file. An appropriate favicon file was uploaded using SFTP. I moved ahead to configure the site using WordPress theme options.

Step 4 : Configure .htaccess file to Increase Site Load Speed

One of the most important files in WordPress – .htaccess holds some key configurations to unlock the speed of websites. Simply turning on zlib compression in itself improves site load speed significantly. I edited .htaccess file using a simple text editor. .htaccess file was tweaked to increase site load speed and page load speed while reducing page load and site load time.

<ifModule mod_php5.c>
php_value zlib.output_compression on
</ifModule>
<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
<IfModule mod_filter.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain text/html application/x-httpd-php-source
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml application/xml application/xhtml+xml application/xml-dtd
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rdf+xml application/rss+xml application/atom+xml image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css text/javascript application/javascript application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/truetype application/x-font-ttf font/opentype application/x-font-otf
</IfModule>
</IfModule>
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
</IfModule>
# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

After configuring .htaccess file with the above code, I moved ahead to check whether zlib compression was switched on and working. A small file mark.php with the following code was created in the root folder.

<?php
phpinfo();
?>

The file link was opened on a browser to check zlib compression status. The page configuration showed us that zlib compression was ON and active.zlib compression ON status check

Step 5 : Remove Query Strings from Static Resources

The site was tested once again on GTmetrix to analyze its current speed status. Looking at the detailed GTmetrix speed test report, I noticed a score of F (47) against Remove query strings from static resources.Remove Query Strings to speed optimize WordPress site

The GTmetrix report says – Resources with a “?” in the URL are not cached by some proxy caching servers. Remove the query string and encode the parameters into the URL for the following resources.

Rather than making changes to the code, I found an easy to use WordPress plugin that can do the job just right for us. I installed Remove Query Strings From Static Resources plugin and activated it with a one click option. The site was tested once again on GTmetrix after activating the plugin and I was happy to see the fresh GTmetrix speed test report. The score on Remove query strings from static resources moved up to C (73) from its earlier score F (47), an improvement of around 55% on a relative scale, although some other objects are still carrying a “?’ in it.Remove Query Strings issue resolved

Step 6 : Optimize Images for Fast Page Rendering

Site images constitute a huge portion of the total page size, so the images should be properly optimized to keep page load time low. Optimizing image sizes and utilizing image compression techniques are some of the most prominent factors responsible for shaping your site load speed to its optimum level. It also includes resizing of images. I also activated CDN and caching before moving ahead to optimize images.

Looking at the dashboard of this case study site, I noticed that TimThumb was active. TimThumb is a small image crop, zoom and resize management tool used by some premium WordPress themes. I switched off TimThumb for the time being to analyze its impact on site speed and took two site speed tests; one with TimThumb switched on, while the other with TimThumb switched off.

Site Speed Test with TimThumb Inactive

GTmetrix report with TimThumb Inactive

GTmetrix Speed Report with TimThumb Inactive

Report Link

Page Speed Grade: (90%) A

YSlow Grade: (75%) C

Page load time: 2.33 s

Total page size: 1.08 MB

Total number of requests: 71

Site Speed Test with TimThumb Active

GTmetrix speed test report with TimThumb Active

GTmetrix Speed Report with TimThumb Active

Report Link

Page Speed Grade: 90% (A)

YSlow Grade: 75% (C)

Page load time: 2.71 s

Total Page size: 1.08 MB

Total number of requests: 73

Looking at the above speed test reports and also at the irregular behavior of size images on the site, I decided to keep TimThumb active.

Now, it was time to manually inspect and optimize images, although within the permissible limits. I switched off CDN once again before substituting the original image files against their optimized versions.

I tested the case study site once again on GTmetrix speed testing tool and got a score of B (86) against Optimize images.

Optimize Images Report on GTmetrixI realized that using the optimized version of images on this site can make the site look quite messy, which was not feasible in any way. Trying to find out an easy and feasible solution, I added some featured images to the posts.

As an experiment, I disabled CDN from WP Engine dashboard. I had a plan to use an alternative method for activating CDN to check if it improves site load time. The idea was to use CDN Linker from GIT hub. (I use the same CDN linker on my own website).

I installed, activated and configured CDN Linker on this site. I also cleared all the caching options and also did a reset file permission. Opening the site in Firefox, Internet Explorer as well as Google Safari, I noticed that the site was still slow as per my standards, although in general, it was quite fast. CDN Linker was removed and I decided to try something else for speeding up this site.

Step 7 : Super Tweaking .htaccess for Increasing Site Speed

Super tweaking .htaccess for increasing site speed holds the potential to improve site load time. In general, I try not to super tweak .htaccess as it is quite aggressive in nature, but in some extreme cases, I have no other choice left. I edited .htaccess and did some super tweaking for improving site load speed. Another round of speed tests were performed to analyze speed improvements achieved so far.

GTmetrix Site Speed Test Report

GTmetrix Speed Test Report

GTmetrix Speed Test Score Card

Page Speed Grade: (91%) A [Earlier (90%) A]

YSlow Grade: (74%) C [Earlier (76%) C]

Page load time: 1.18 s [Earlier 3.93 s]

Total page size: 1.05 MB [Earlier 1.06 MB]

Total number of requests: 70 [Earlier 69]

GTmetrix test report is showing a substantial improvement against its earlier values. The site seems to be more stable now.

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Report

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Score

Pingdom Tools Speed Test Score Card

Page size 1.1MB [Earlier 1.1 MB]
Load time 904 ms [Earlier 2.02 s]
Requests 74 [Earlier 77]

Perf. grade 71/100 [Earlier 70]

Your website is faster than 91% [Earlier 70%] of all tested websites

Even Pingdom Tools speed test report is showing improvement as well as stability. It also means that the cache system is working quite efficiently and pushing site speed up on speed meters.

Webpagetest Speed Report

Webpagetest Site Speed Report

Webpagetest Speed Test Score Card

First Byte Time A [Earlier A]
Keep-alive Enabled A [Earlier A]
Compress Transfer B [Earlier B]
Compress Images C [Earlier B]
Progressive JPEGs F [Earlier F]
Cache static content B [Earlier C]
Effective use of CDN YES [Earlier YES]
First View 2.830 s [Earlier 2.292 s]
Repeat View 1.349 s [Earlier 1.529 s]

This test report still hints the presence of certain speed related issues on the site. Although, two speed pulling factors are known to me. One issue is related to a big rotating banner on the site. It is coming from a third party. Second issue is related to the use of a third party social comment system. It loads a couple of objects on the home page, pushing page load time up on speed meters.

I took a break for the day and decided to continue on this site speed optimization the next day. Next day, I picked up the site and analyzed it once again on speed meters to see whether the speed results were stable or still fluctuating beyond the permissible limits.

GTmetrix Site Speed Test Report

Fresh GTmetrix Test ReportPage Speed Grade: (93%) A

YSlow Grade: (72%) C

Page load time: 2.38 s

Total page size: 891 KB

Total number of requests: 69

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Report

Pingdom Tools Speed Test Report

Page size: 1.0 MB

Load time: 910 ms

Requests: 70

Perf. Grade: 70/100

Your website is faster than 91% of all tested websites

Webpagetest Site Speed Test Report

Webpagetest site speed report

First Byte Time: A
Keep-alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: B
Progressive JPEGs: F
Cache static content: B
Effective use of CDN: YES

First View: 2.112 s
Repeat View: 1.060 s

All the above site speed test reports are showing good results, although not the best yet. I looked at the site source code and found a total of 482 lines of code. My next target was to reduce the number of code lines so that the site load can be improved.

Step 8 : WordPress Plugin Autoptimize Reduces Site Load

Autoptimize is a WordPress plugin to speed up sites. I have used it on many other websites for speed optimization and planned to give it a try, even on this site. It minifies HTML code, concatenates styles and scripts as well as minimizes them. My objective was to reduce the volume of code on site’s page. I installed and activated this speed optimization plugin on the site. I checked the site source code once again. Now, the site was showing only 107 lines of code instead of its earlier value 482 lines, an improvement of around 78%. It meant more POWER available to our site.

Step 9 : Activate WP-Optimize for Database Optimization

WP-Optimize is another useful plugin available for database optimization. I have employed this WordPress plugin on many other websites as well. After installing and activating WP-Optimize, I looked at its dashboard and found something which wasn’t going well with this site. This WordPress site seems to be using InnoDB table, which is not supported by WP-Optimize. I had no other choice than to remove this plugin before moving to the next step. Although, before jumping to the next step, I opened the site in Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari. Everything looked good to the eyes, but speed test reports are always a better tool to confirm that the facts are not deceiving the eyes.

GTmetrix site speed reportPage Speed Grade: (96%) A [Earlier (93%) A]

YSlow Grade: (80%) B [Earlier (72%) C]

Page load time: 1.14 s [Earlier 2.38 s]

Total page size: 845 KB [Earlier 891 KB]

Total number of requests: 47 [Earlier 69]

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Report

Pingdom Tools Speed ReportPage size 892.6kB [Earlier 1.0MB]

Load time 875ms [Earlier 910ms]

Requests 55 [Earlier 70]

Perf. grade 75/100 [Earlier 70]

Your website is faster than 91% [Earlier 91%] of all tested websites

Webpagetest site speed reportFirst Byte Time: A [Earlier A]
Keep-alive Enabled: A [Earlier A]
Compress Transfer: A [Earlier A]
Compress Images: B [Earlier A]
Progressive JPEGs: F [Earlier F]
Cache static content: B [Earlier B]
Effective use of CDN: YES [Earlier YES]

First View 2.172 s [Earlier 2.112s]
Repeat View 1.280 s [Earlier 1.060s]

Considering the above site speed test reports and looking at the site, two site speed issues caught my attention. One was the big banner and the other was a large number of posts displayed on home page. I thought of reducing the total number of posts to eight so that the page size can be reduced and as a direct impact, site load time too. Other than that, site appeared to be fast, although I wanted to go through the site once again to confirm that nothing has been missed.

Another problem was about the two Google Ads which were included inside the post. These were not the standard coded Google Ads, rather these ads used custom JavaScript to make the ads responsive. Third party objects have always caught my suspicion and this was not an exception.

Step 10 : Minimize the use of Third Party Objects

When third parties develop a WordPress plugin then they are more focused at implementing the desired function, rather than thinking about its load time and render time. I took another site speed test at webpagetest to analyze site speed test results once again.

case study site speed test reportFirst Byte Time: A
Keep-alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: B
Compress Images: A
Progressive JPEGs: F
Cache static content: D
Effective use of CDN: YES

First View: 11.080 s
Repeat View: 10.361 s

First view, Repeat view and Progressive JPEGs are spoiling the entire report. In order to get to the root of the problem, I looked at the speed test report details.Webpagetest Detailed Report

The report is showing certain objects on which we have no control as they are associated with a third party. Although, there are some other objects coming straight from our site’s WordPress installation which can be controlled to improve site performance.

Objects Out of Control for Speed Optimization

FAILED (58.4 KB) – http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/simgad/12977157630052641712
FAILED (27.9 KB) – http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/9RfT2KqPCoI/sddefault.jpg
FAILED (26.4 KB) – http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/QPLb_anF3_8/sddefault.jpg
FAILED (12.6 KB) – http://img.youtube.com/vi/QPLb_anF3_8/0.jpg
Info (1.1 KB) – https://fbstatic-a.akamaihd.net/rsrc.php/v1/yi/r/odA9sNLrE86.jpg
Info (0.5 KB) – http://t2.gstatic.com/favicon?q=tbn:ANd9GcRC4vAnWpPKEaYm1jPFxXUPLnDJGrKnipsaje7f8SpaRzKoCeNoWAFGf5Qy8PMoh32ts5_PJXAZCXwGOjHy3FRuek2
PyEu52fdKjhVHRW6q H8pbgXrSMIQpWkquOIbJWFpuLS-0fRwNWrktXZ6TYEcRUNVZLw

Objects Within Control for Speed Optimization

FAILED (18.9 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/HT_kelly_clarkson_wedding_lpl_131021_16x9_992-300×165.jpg
FAILED (14.9 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/MirandaOverallDress-300×165.jpg
FAILED (12.9 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/cache/remote/3qyzzq1eg5dv3lkq5y49nu91ipu-wpengine-netdna-cdn-com/1153973481.jpg
FAILED (11.0 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/LukeMiley2-300×165.jpg
Info (10.0 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CuteKidElvis-300×165.jpg
Info (9.5 KB) – http://cmnation.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/cache/remote/3qyzzq1eg5dv3lkq5y49nu91ipu-wpengine-netdna-cdn-com/1878037634.jpg

All these images are used in different widgets. It also seems that these images were created on the fly. These images should be optimized before doing anything else on the site to optimize it for speed.

Step 11 : Image Optimization using Yahoo Smush.it

Image optimization is quite important for speeding up any website. You can use an image editor to manually optimize the images. You can also use an online image optimization tool such as Yahoo Smush.it. I uploaded the above mentioned images for image optimization using this online tool and downloaded a zip file containing the optimized version of these image files. The optimized images must be replaced with the unoptimized images by uploading it to the exact location. It substitutes the original but unoptimized images with its optimized version.

After uploading all the images, I disabled CDN as well as caching on the site. I also purged the cache and did a reset file permission. I opened a post on Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari as well as Internet Explorer to analyze its page load time. Even reloaded the page to check its speed behavior. Testing page load speed as well as page load time through online speed testing tools can give us the actual speed status. Also remember that CDN as well as caching was inactive during these speed tests.

GTmetrix Site Speed Test

SpeedGTmetrix Speed Report Test Link

Page Speed Grade: (77%) C
YSlow Grade:(65%) D
Page load time: 4.71s
Total page size: 2.44MB
Total number of requests: 131

The report is looking good, considering that CDN and Caching were disabled during the test.

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test

Pingdom Tools Speed ReportSpeed Test Link

Page size 1.7 MB
Load time 2.15 s
Requests 154
Perf. grade 73/100
Your website is faster than 67% of all tested websites

This report is also not looking bad.

Webpagetest Site Speed Test

023_Country Music Nation CSSpeed Test Link

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : C
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : F
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : No

First View : 7.598s
Repeat View : 3.607s

Even this speed test report is not looking bad, although digging into the details of this speed test report, my eyes did not missed line number 87.Third party objects pulling site speed down

Fixing this object is beyond our scope as the highlighted object is coming from Google ads.

A retest of the page at Webpagetest returned the following result.

Fresh webpagetest report

Speed Test Link

First Byte Time : B
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : B
Compress Images : A
Progressive JPEGs : F
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : No

First View (Run 2) 10.571s
Repeat View (Run 3) 9.738s

Looking at this speed test report, it seems that the image tweaking is not working on this site. I activated CDN as well as caching options to analyze site speed performance once again. The site was opened in Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. Looking at the site, I knew that caching and CDN were working but wanted to confirm it with the speed test reports.

GTmetrix Site Speed Test Report

GTmetrix ReportGTmetrix Report Link

Page Speed Grade: (90%) A [Earlier (77%) C]
YSlow Grade: (67%) D [Earlier (65%) D]
Page load time: 4.13s [Earlier 4.71 s]
Total page size: 2.60MB [Earlier 2.44 MB]
Total number of requests: 141 [Earlier 131]

This speed test report confirms that the site is performing quite well with CDN and caching being active on the site.

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Report

Pingdom Tools fresh reportPingdom Tools Report Link

Page size 1.7 MB
Load time 2.06 s [Earlier 2.15 s]
Requests 155
Perf. grade 72/100
Your website is faster than 69% of all tested websites

This report is also looking good.

Webpagetest Site Speed Report

Webpagetest fresh reportWebpagetest Report Link

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : C
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : F
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : YES

First View : 7.319s [Earlier 7.598 s]
Repeat View 4.313 s [Earlier 3.607 s]

First view could have been better but the items on this page loads last. The page load time is 1 s, but it takes around 2 s to pull objects from third party. Moreover, the page is loading a huge mp3 file, resulting in an increase in its page load time.

Step 12 : Remove Unnecessary Plugins to Improve Page Load Speed

Many WordPress plugins are load hoggers and I don’t want to use any load hogging WordPress plugin on my sites. These plugins harm the site in terms of speed, rather than improving the site functionality. I went thought the entire list of WordPress plugins activated on the site to find out the presence of plugins which could be removed without compromising the site’s functionality. I spotted certain plugins slowing down the website, but these plugins were also quite important for the site. Some of these plugins were also responsible for pulling Ads on the website. Nothing much was found at this front and we moved ahead.

Step 13 : Super Tweaking .htaccess for Speed Optimization

Site was loading fast, but as I always aim to optimize my sites super fast, I was not very happy with the site speed performance yet. In my quest to speed up this WordPress website, I performed one more site speed test at Webpagetest.

Webpagetest speed reportReport Link

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : C
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : D
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : YES

First View : 10.631 s
Repeat View 4.710 s

As a last resort, I tweaked .htaccess file once again to improve site load speed and checked the site once again on webpagetest.

Webpagetest speed report for countrymusicnation.comReport Link

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : C
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : B
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : YES

First View : 8.711 s
Repeat View 4.899 s

I analyzed the detailed report to find out the speed issues which were still pulling site load speed down on speed meters.Google Ads coming from third object

Line number 87 and 90 are pulling Google Ads on site, which are coming from third party and it is beyond our control. Looking the test report further down, line number 126 is showing that an mp3 file of 8 MB file is loading.

heavy media files pull site speed down

The source of this mp3 file is Sharethrough, a third party source. In order to confirm my apprehensions, I looked at the detailed report.Unoptimized file resources decrease site load speed

This section of the detailed test report confirmed that the files were coming from sharethrough. Unfortunately, we have no control on these files, reason being the third party resource, which is outside the website.

Not to leave anything for chance, I looked at another section of the same report.cache static content improves page load time

I found the same problem with sharethrough objects. It seems that sharethrough is not optimizing their ads. It impacts page load time containing their ads on site. We have no control on these objects, so we had to leave it as it was and move ahead.

Looking at the Pingdom Tools test report , you can see that the page load time is flat 2s. It means the page is cached by the server.page load time optimized to 2 s

Looking at the old GTmetrix speed test report, we noticed the Serve Scaled Images score at F(36), although now the serve Scaled Images score has been improved to F (47). Here again, certain objects are coming from the third party and we have no control on it.

The following images are resized in HTML or CSS. Serving scaled images could save 657.9KiB (85% reduction).

http://static.sharethrough.com/poster_frames/440/images/original/Netflix_ONB_Video3.png is resized in HTML or CSS from 1153×646 to 444×250. Serving a scaled image could save 656.2KiB (85% reduction).
http://static.sharethrough.com/campaigns/3720/brand_logos/original/Netflix_brand_logo.jpg is resized in HTML or CSS from 81×30 to 50×19. Serving a scaled image could save 1.5KiB (60% reduction).
http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/images/nessie_icon_tiamat_white.png is resized in HTML or CSS from 26×42 to 17×28. Serving a scaled image could save 127B (56% reduction).

I tried to optimize these images once again. Let us have a look at the speed test reports to confirm whether our image optimization technique for these images worked or not.

GTmetrix Site Speed Test Report

Image optimization improves site load timeGTmetrix Report

Page Speed Grade: (87%) B

YSlow Grade:(63%) D

Page load time: 4.61 s
Total page size: 1.76 MB

Total number of requests: 139

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Test Report

image optimization improves site loading speedPingdom Tools Report

Page size 2.0MB
Load time 2.38s

Requests 186
Perf. grade 73/100

Your website is faster than 63% of all tested websites

Webpagetest Site Speed Test Report

optimize images to improve site performanceWebpagetest Report

First View 3.621 s
Repeat View 2.734 s

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : C
Compress Images : A
Progressive JPEGs : F
Cache static content : D
Effective use of CDN : YES

The above test reports are good, but not to my speed standards. I always try to get the best site speed optimization results for my clients, but this site is still not moving up. I understand the presence of third party objects is the main culprit in this case. Removing third party ads could be a solution to improve site speed further, but it is not a feasible solution.

I worked once again on the site to optimize the images. Also tried to setup an automated system of image optimization so that the images added in future to the site are auto optimized. I used WP.Smushit and some other refined speed optimization tweaks to resolve the image optimization issue. Let us have a look at the fresh site speed test reports after optimizing the site for best speed results.

GTmetrix Archived speed test report

Pingdom Tools Final Site Speed Optimization Test

Site speed optimization report at Pingdom Tools

Webpagetest Final Site Speed Optimization Test

site speed optimization report at webpagetest.org

Now, that is what I call a fully optimized site for speed. Finally, I made it. Let us also do a site speed comparative analysis to study the performance factor on a relative scale.

Site Speed Comparative Analysis

Gtmetrix Site Speed Optimization Comparative Analysis

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result Gain
Page Speed Grade 90% (A) 96% (A) Improved 07%
YSlow Grade 76% (C) 83% (B) Improved 09%
Page load time 3.93 s 1.20 s Improved 70%
Total page size 1.06 MB 511 KB Improved 53%
Total number of requests 69 37 Improved 46%

Values of Page Speed Grade, YSlow Grade, Page load time, Total page size as well as Total number of requests are improved.

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Optimization Comparative Analysis

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result Gain
Page Size 1.1 MB 554.4 KB Improved 51%
Load time 2.02 s 639 ms Improved 69%
Requests 77 40 Improved 48%
Perf. Grade 70/100 86/100 Improved 23%

Your website is faster than 95% of all tested websites. [Earlier: Your website is faster than 70% of all tested websites.]

Values of Page size, Load time, Requests and Perf. Grade are improved.

Webpagetest Site Speed Optimization Comparative Analysis

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result
First Byte Time A A No Change
Keep-alive Enabled A A No Change
Compress Transfer B A Improved
Compress Images B B No Change
Progressive JPEGs F F No Change
Cache static content C C No Change
Effective use of CDN YES YES No Change
First View 2.292 s 2.083 s Improved (9%)
Repeat View 1.529 s 1.356 s Improved (11%)

Values of Compress Transfer, First View as well as Repeat View are looking better.

Conclusion

Finally, one more WordPress site speed optimization done successfully. It has been one of the most complex and longest site speed optimization case studies done so far. The site is relying on many third party objects and these objects are un-optimized for speed. Third party object providers also need to consider site speed as an important factor before throwing their objects on the web. It results in a strong detrimental impact not only to their own websites, but also to the websites associated with such sites.

You can implement some or all of the speed optimization procedures mentioned in this case study to speed up your own WordPress website. In case of queries, please feel free to shoot an email to me. You can also hire my speed optimization services through UpWork for your commercial speed optimization projects.

Website Speed Optimization Case Study Details
Website – www.countrymusicnation.com
Web Host Server – WP Engine
Site Speed Optimizer – +Mark de Scande
Editor – +Ashutosh Kasera

Author 


WordPress Site Speed Expert, Speeding up WordPress sites across the Globe

I am the fuel behind the high speed of innumerable fast running wordpress websites hosted either on a cheap server or a dedicated server.
Today, Speed is a matter of great concern, and I don’t only optimize but re-energize. I am also a lifetime WPMU Dev member.


One of the largest free blogging websites BlogLines in South Africa is my baby. I not only conceived the idea of free blogging in South Africa, but also implemented it with an objective of adding a new dimension to the world of free blogging. Blogging helps us in enhancing the quality of our social life by transforming the ways in which we share our ideas and opinions with each other. South Africa blogging environment has never been so easy and user-friendly as it is today.

I have practised and learned all the technical aspects related to WordPress. In the past couple of years, I have developed a wide range of websites using WordPress, WordPress MU and now using the latest WordPress MultiSite.

I am the WordPress Speed Energizer Wiz, and I am always hunting around to find slow running websites. I know, these websites need me in order to live a long and healthy life.
Only the wordpress sites powered with speed, capable of running at full throttle are going to survive in this tough and competitive world of Internet.


Need my help but can not afford my hourly rate buy me coffee and i will do a full report on your website.

    Follow Me:
  • facebook
  • flickr
  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • pinterest
  • twitter
  • youtube

Leave a Reply