WP Speed Optimization Case Study
We are back with another WordPress site speed optimization case study: How to be Awesome at Your Job. First and foremost, take a full backup of your WordPress site before hitting on any speed optimization task. It is important to safeguard your site against any changes that may break the site because of any incompatibility issues encountered anywhere during the optimization process.
Before starting any site speed optimization process, we need to understand the current site status in terms of site load speed performance. It also acts as a yardstick to measure the site load speed performance status before and after the optimization. Let us have a look at some of the most prominent site speed load time tests and results to analyze the current site load speed status. These site speed test reports also help us identify the bottlenecks pulling the site speed down, which can be improved with the right optimization strategy.
Page Speed Grade: (96%) A
YSlow Grade: (92%) A
Page load time: 3.0s
Total page size: 863KB
Total number of requests: 27
Page size: 1.4 MB
Load Time: 1.60s
Perf. Grade: 92/100
Your website is faster than 79% of all tested websites.
First Byte Time: A
Keep-alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: D
Cache static content: F
Effective use of CDN: YES
First View: 8.308s
Repeat View: 4.091s
Based on the above site speed test results, we can move on to the execution phase so as to eliminate the factors hindering the site load time. Opening the cPanel, I realized that it was simply working with out-of-the-box configurations. It was also planned to migrate the site from its current hosting platform to WP Engine so that none of the hosting factors can pull the site speed down. Although, it was important to get the current setup well in place to have a smooth migration.
Akismet iThemes Security plugin updated and old WP themes deleted. Some minor website optimization preferences updated from cPanel, along with enabling the content compression for all the site content. Full backup of the site is the most important task before initiating any major change processes on site. Keeping it in mind, a full backup of the site was taken.
Looking at the following GTmetrix speed test report, I pulled out three site speed hindrance factors to fix before anything else.
- Optimize images B (80)
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) A (90)
- Remove query strings from static resources B (86)
Apart from tweaking the listed images for optimization, I also added the following two plugins.
WP Engine has great inbuilt modules to manage caching and security. It doesn’t makes any sense to use any third party plugin for caching and security related issues. The following WordPress plugins were removed from the system as the site was about to be migrated to WP Engine. It is always good to have less for more speed.
- CDN Enabler
- Divi Builder
- Heartbeat Control
- Hello Dolly I have deleted it
- iThemes Security
- W3 Total Cache
Decision to remove these plugins was based on this WP Engine advice on list of plugins disallowed in their system. In order to avoid any conflicts, I removed all those plugins which were in violation of the mentioned list.
I also added WP Engine Automated Migration Plugin to make the site migration from one server to another a seamless experience. Apart from site level optimization, it is also good to analyze primary site pages individually to fix any page level site optimization issues. Going through the primary pages of site, I tweaked a couple of minor things to fix high page load time based on specific pages.
.htacess and wp-config.php are the two most important files in WordPress setup from site speed optimization viewpoint. I analyzed these files to find any scope of optimization, but everything looked good inside it.
Now, the stage was ready to migrate the site from one server to another. DNS propagation was the first thing to do. I made DNS changes after full site backup was complete. iThemes Security posed some conflicting challenges in the site migration, but was sorted out with the help of WP Engine support team. A little trouble, but everything got in place soon. Cleaning iThemes Security and W3TC was challenging, but was done successfully.
WP Engine comes with a wonderful feature called Staging. I moved the site to staging so as to test and analyze its performance as well as to fine tune it before making it live to the public. Added some of my .htaccess configuration tweaks.
In order to fine tune our client’s site to make it load the fastest, I removed old WordPress themes from the installation. Also did a search and replace on the WordPress Database. Favicon was missing from the site, which was added. There were some image issues on widgets, which were also fixed. It was important to ensure that all the images were loading from the new server.
Checked pretty link and Smart Podcast Player configurations and everything looked good to me. Once I was happy with all the configurations, it was time to tweak the DNS over to WP Engine. A long wait of around 48 – 72 hours iss required to let everything settle down at its best during site migration from one server to another. I switched off the CDN during the DNS propagation as it may have certain issues at times.
As soon as the DNS propagation was completed, it was time to fire the CDN at full throttle. Following code was added into .htaccess file so as to pull the nitro boosters behind CDN.
Header set Access-Control-Allow-Origin “*”
All WordPress site speed factors were tuned at their best and everything looked good to me. Now, it was time to make some fresh speed tests to see, if we were missing anything.
Let us have a look at some of the speed tests.
Check live report here.
It was good to see that the site was loading well from all the geographical locations.
Check LoadImpact Test Report Live
LoadImpact report looks stable.
WP Speed Optimization Before and After Results
Check Pingdom tools Live Report here.
Check Webpagetest report here.
|Factor||Before Optimization||After Optimization||Result||Gain|
|Page Speed Grade||96% (A)||96% (A)||No Change||0%|
|YSlow Grade||92% (C)||89% (B)||Deteriorated||03%|
|Page load time||3.0 s||1.5 s||Improved||50%|
|Total page size||863 KB||850 KB||Improved||01%|
|Total number of requests||27||45||Deteriorated||67%|
Values of Page load time and Total page size are improved.
|Factor||Before Optimization||After Optimization||Result||Gain|
|Page Size||1.4 MB||1.4 MB
|Load time||1.60 s||1.43s||Improved||11%|
Your website is faster than 83% of all tested websites. [Earlier: Your website is faster than 79% of all tested websites.]
Values of Load time and Perf. Grade are improved.
|Factor||Before Optimization||After Optimization||Result|
|First Byte Time||A||A||No Change|
|Keep-alive Enabled||A||A||No Change|
|Compress Transfer||A||A||No Change|
|Cache static content||F||F||No Change|
|Effective use of CDN||YES||YES||No Change|
|First View||8.308 s||2.718 s||Improved (67%)
|Repeat View||1.529 s||1.487 s||Improved (3%)|
Values of Compress Images, First View as well as Repeat View are looking better.
Site is loading quickly on all the browsers, from different parts of the world. Although, the customized CDN used with this setup is a bit troublesome. If we get on the CDN which comes with WP Engine, it will be a good pairing but we do understand that there are some limiting factors based on constraint resources. Under the given circumstances, this WP site is fully optimized to run at full throttle across the globe.