There’s a lot of discussion and talk about getting WordPress to load FAST – but not many people want to go out on the line and say what FAST is…
At the end of the day, it does not matter what “performance grade”, “YSlow”, “PageSpeed test” etc give you in terms of a score.
All that matters is how many SECONDS it takes for you to put a human-readable version of your post/page in front of the person that clicked the link.
Use a combination of waterfall view and “Filmstrip” view to know how your site REALLY loads for visitors.
You may want to test during peak traffic hours and low traffic hours as well.
Often times, stats you get from tools like http://tools.pingdom.com are a lot lower than what your visitor really experiences due to how browser display works. Always look closely at your Filmstrip to find out if readers are seeing content LATER (commonly) or Earlier (sometimes happens) than the reports given to you by pingdom.
I highly recommend the FREE http://www.webpagetest.org/
I never rely on Pingdom Tools to give me a valid HUMAN experience answer to loading times . (And it almost always reports a number that’s suspiciously lower than every other test tool out there, likely due to them simply having more bandwidth than you or I do.)
So now that you’ve got the Filmstrip View – what are you looking for?
Shoot for TWO SECONDS! (For first view, aka “before caching”) For when the site appears “normal” for the visitor in the pictures.
If you’re a website optimization pro, you may be grumbling at me because you can do better than that.
However, for the average website, blogger and marketer – shooting for a TWO SECOND load time to human readability is a very fair goal with a LOT of reward for the work that will be necessary.
If your site is loading at FIVE SECONDS you have some major work to do – and you’re definitely not in Google’s favor. However, about FIVE SECONDS is in the “average” range for many WordPress sites because of the number of people that have not optimized for performance.
If your site is loading in TEN SECONDS, you have major issues in your site that you need to correct before your visitors will be willing to suffer through visiting and reading more than one post on your site.
Earlier I mentioned all of the “scores” and I brushed them aside. It’s not that they are not important, but that their importance is ONLY in helping you to get a better page load. You can have high scores on all of them and still have a slow loading page.
These scores also do not tell you about process use. Process use on your hosting account goes up as you get more traffic because more data is being served by the server. Thus you not only need a super fast site, served by a good server, but you need a high quality web host with built-in caching available to serve your site super fast!
I don’t care if your performance grade is an A – if you are loading slowly, you have work to do!
Can you get under TWO SECONDS? Sure! And your visitors will love it – but if you’re not hitting the TWO SECOND mark – start there and aim for that goal.
If you get TWO SECONDS or less for a first time viewer, once caching kicks in for the next page view, you’ll usually be under a second for repeat visitors!
So where do you start?
First, as with security, you start by getting on high quality hosting that has a server level caching available. I’d be happy to recommend some or have you host with us if you’re looking for a new home for your blog. (Part of my own recent hosting move had a lot to do with site speed!)
Next, you use a plugin, set up correctly, to help you take advantage of the various forms of caching and CDN available to your website. My favorite for this is W3 Total Cache, but it must be set up correctly if it’s going to do you any good. Combine it with Cloudflare for added security and speed!
P3 is one of several plugins that can help you determine which plugins are slowing your site down. Also, keep in mind what Google says about functionality vs page speed when deciding what plugins to keep or ditch.
I’ve been so busy optimizing other people’s sites that I’m finally making time to sit down and get mine optimized again this week just ahead of a new theme launch coming soon!
~ Kim ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing
PS: Ready to step up your game and get your site cruising but not wanting to dedicate the learning curve and many hours of work required? Be sure to contact my team and I for information on our WordPress Speed Optimization package.