WordPress Site Speed Optimization Case Study on Charissa de Scande.com

Site Speed Optimization Case Study

Site Speed Optimization www.charissadescande.com

Our site speed optimization case studies have been developed as a rich informative resource to help Webmasters and site owners speed up their websites by following some of the best tips and tricks that worked on our  clients’ sites. Although, it might not be possible to imitate each and every tweak on your site because of the wide differences in site operating environment but some small adjustment can get your sites running faster than before. Improving site speed performance improves site SEO as well as offers a seamless experience to the site visitors. As we sincerely want to help people speed up their websites, we present the next in our series of site speed optimization case studies.

Our next case study site is www.charissadescande.com. The site is hosted with one of the best dedicated WordPress host service providers WP Engine. No doubt, WP Engine implements some of the most advanced hosting technologies to offer many inbuilt speed optimization features, but still for WordPress site speed optimization experts like me, it is not sufficient. WP Engine is laid down on strong foundation but playing a bit with their configuration and fine tuning the site environment reduces page load time and increases site load speed further. I aim at keeping the site load time under 1 second on an average for a page size of 1 MB. You may go through my another post to learn more about How to Speed Up WP Engine for Running WordPress Sites Super Fast.

Step 1 : Analyzing Site Speed Current Status

Site speed optimization is always done specific to a site. No generalized solution works for all the sites because each and every site is different in its own design, used themes, set of activated plugins and site hosting environment. It is quite important to analyze the site before doing anything else. Understanding what is already present on the site or whatever has already been done on the site and how does it effects the site speed performance levels helps us customize site speed optimization solutions for our clients.

Just like a physician, we do certain speed tests, analyze the current speed health status of the site to diagnose the factors pulling it down on speed meters. A systematic approach is required behind speeding up site load speed without losing patience. It takes time but the results are worth the invested efforts and time. You must also ensure that your host is not limiting your account in the name of CPU Throttling as the importance of web host servers cannot be ruled out behind speeding up any WordPress site. Varnish Cache Servers are another stream of servers employed by some host service providers.

We started our site speed optimization process by taking out some of the most prominent site speed test results to analyze the areas of site speed improvement.

Speed Test Report at GTmetrix Before Site Speed Optimization

GTmetrix site speed test report before optimizationPage Speed Grade : (96%) A

YSlow Grade : (81%) B

Page load time : 1.56s

Total page size : 744KB

Total number of requests : 60


Speed Test Report at Pingdom Tools Before Site Speed Optimization

Pingdom Site Test Report before OptimizationPage size : 767.0kB

Load time : 1.23s

Requests : 68

Perf. grade : 89/100

Your website is faster than 85% of all tested websites

Speed Test Report at Webpagetest Before Site Speed Optimization

Webpagetest Site speed test report before optimizationFirst Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : A
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : A
Cache static content : A
Effective use of CDN : X
First View : 2.494s
Repeat View : 1.425s

Speed Test Report at Webhostinghero Before Site Speed Optimization

Webshostinghero site speed test before optimizationGrade : B

Score : 80%

Load Time : 1.23 sec

First Byte : 0.09

Number of Requests : 62

Page Size : 1113 kb

Looking at all the above site speed test reports, we can say that the speed health status in our case study site is not bad, but it can be made better by applying some site speed tweaks. I can sense that scope of site speed improvement still exists in this case study site and if we can fine tune it, we can expect better site speed results.

Step 2 : Site Speed Optimization by Tuning .htaccess File

.htaccess is one of the most important configuration files used to configure the Apache web servers at directory level. Since, .htaccess file is loaded at each and every site request, any changes made to this file get in force immediately. Moreover, it also overrides all global configurations made by web servers. It is easy to configure for achieving decentralized control on our individual site operating environment.

We did some changes in .htaccess file to set the server environment as per our requirement. Our objective was to run our case study site faster than before by decreasing its page load time and increasing its page load speed.

<ifModule mod_php5.c>
php_value zlib.output_compression on

<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 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”

wpconfig.php is another important file used in WordPress environment, but after looking at the file we felt there was no need to change anything into it.

Step 3 : WordPress Plugins for Site Speed Optimization

Choosing, activating and configuring right WordPress plugins (including some great cache WordPress plugins) are a great way to improve site speed performance. These plugins are written in a way so as to optimize a site by compressing, minifying as well as caching the parts of your site as and when required. No coding knowledge is required by the end user for using these plugins, although a good configuration knowledge is a must to make the best out of these plugins.

1WP-HTML-Compression Plugin for Improving Site Speed

WP-HTML-Compression plugin was installed, activated and configured on our case study site. The plugin is written to compress HTML by removing all the spaces from the code . Moreover, it also removes all the standard comments, white-spaces, excess spaces, new lines, tabs and carriage returns for better performance. It did returned good results, but we needed something better.

2WP-OPTIMIZE Plugin for Optimizing WordPress DB

WP-Optimize was the next plugin that was installed and activated on our case study site. It is one of the best WordPress plugins to clean up and optimize database without even touching your PhpMyAdmin. This plugin helped us clean the DB. We removed it after the task was accomplished. It could have been left to stay in our case study site installation as there is no harm in it but we like to keep our installations neat and clean. It can be again installed anytime and activated easily to meet any future DB cleanup and optimization requirements.

3Autoptimize Plugin for Caching WordPress Sites

Autoptimize is another great cache plugin for WordPress sites. The best part about using it with WP Engine is its seamless integration with their hosting environment. We have dedicated an entire post explaining about the Autoptimize configuration for WP Engine. The post is all about configuring Autoptimize plugin to make your site lightweight by concatenating scripts and styles, minifying codes, caching, adding expires head, moving styles to head as well as scripts to the footer. We installed, activated and configured Autoptimize on our case study site to improve its site speed test results.

Step 4 : Fine Tuning .htaccess file for Site Speed Optimization

A couple of other WordPress plugins were also activated on our case study site. .htaccess file was already configured but the site was still not running up to the mark as per my high site speed performance standards. We rechecked .htaccess file to analyze it in order to detect any further scope left for site speed improvement. Our analysis revealed us that a fine tuning of .htaccess file was further required to improve site speed optimization test reports.

First of all, we removed all the previous configurations made to .htaccess file and made some other changes into it.

# 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]
# END WordPress

After making the above changes in .htaccess file, we diagnosed the site speed once again based on its fresh speed test reports. Some more changes were done to .htaccess file.

<ifModule mod_php5.c>
php_value zlib.output_compression on

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]

END WordPress

After making all the above changes on our case study site, we were ready to take fresh speed diagnostic reports to analyze the speed improvements achieved so far. We went through the site once again to ensure that everything needed was done to our full satisfaction in order to push the site up on site speed performance reports.

Let us have a look at the final site speed test reports and also analyze the achieved site speed performance improvements.

Speed Test Report at GTmetrix After Site Speed Optimization

GTmetrix site speed test report after optimization
Page Speed Grade : (97%) A

YSlow Grade : (83%) B

Page load time : 1.71s

Total page size : 713KB

Total number of requests : 47

Speed Test Report at Pingdom Tools After Site Speed Optimization

Pingdom Tools Speed Test Report after Optimization

Page size : 730.3 kB

Load time : 920 ms

Requests : 54

Perf. grade : 91/100

Your website is faster than 90% of all tested websites

Speed Test Report at Webpagetest After Site Speed Optimization

Webpagetest Speed Report after Optimization

First Byte Time : A
Keep-alive Enabled : A
Compress Transfer : A
Compress Images : B
Progressive JPEGs : A
Cache static content : B
Effective use of CDN : X
First View : 2.833 s
Repeat View : 1.479 s

Speed Test Report at Webhostinghero After Site Speed Optimization

Webhostinghero speed test report after optimization

Grade : B

Score : 83%

Load Time : 1.24 sec

First Byte : 0.09

Number of Requests : 48

Page Size : 1025.6 kb

Speed Analytic Report (Site Speed Factors Before and After Optimization)

GTmetrix Site Speed Analytic

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result Gain
Page Speed Grade 96% (A) 97% (A) Improved 01%
YSlow Grade 81% (B) 83% (A) Improved 03%
Page load time 1.56 s 1.71 s Deteriorated 10%
Total page size 744 Kb 713 kB Improved 04%
Total number of requests 60 47 Improved 22%

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

Pingdom Tools Site Speed Analytic

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result Gain
Page Size 767.0 kB 730.3 kB Improved 05%
Load time 1.23 s 920 ms Improved 25%
Requests 68 54 Improved 21%
Perf. Grade 89/100 91/100 Improved 02%

Your website is faster than 90% of all tested websites. [Earlier: Your website is slower than 85% of all tested websites.]

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

Webpagetest Site Speed Analytic

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result
First Byte Time A A Neutral
Keep-alive Enabled A A Neutral
Compress Transfer A A Neutral
Compress Images B B Neutral
Progressive JPEGs A A Neutral
Cache static content A B Deteriorated
Effective use of CDN No No Neutral
First View 2.494 s 2.833 s Deteriorated
Repeat View 1.425 s 1.479 s Deteriorated

Webhostinghero Site Speed Analytic

Factor Before Optimization After Optimization Result Gain
Grade B B Neutral NA
Score 80% 83% Improved 04%
Load Time 1.23 sec 1.24 sec Deteriorated Negligible
First Byte 0.09 0.09 Neutral NA
Number of Requests 62 48 Improved 23%
Page Size 1113 kb 1025.6 kb Improved 08%


Site is fully optimized to run at blazing fast speed. It not only improves site SEO, but also offer a seamless smooth experience to the site visitors. We all love fast loading websites. Several research studies have also proved that slow loading websites top at losing their prospective customers as none of us like to wait for a site that loads in more than 2 seconds.

You can follow the tweaks mentioned in this case study to improve the page load speed of your own site running under similar environment. In case of any trouble, please feel free to get in touch with us as we are always ready to help on site speed optimization issues.

You can even hire my site speed optimization services through UpWork for your commercial or business site speed optimization projects.

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


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.

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  1. Mark De Scande BlogLines
    Mark De Scande BlogLines06-30-2014

    Well done on a great website Charissa De Scande Lotter

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