A/B Testing Speed (sort of)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Let’s experimentally compare how two different websites with the same content measure up. One is hand-coded and the other is a WordPress site. The textual and image content are the same. The adapter product is used to attach a digital camera to an ordinary microphone boom stand.

Older hand-coded CamerBoomstand.com website.
Older hand-coded CameraBoomstand.com website. Initial load time: 1.35 seconds. Cached: 896 milliseconds. Fast!

The first website is CameraBoomstand.com and the other is the BoomAdapter.com. The styling of the theme is different, of course. So aesthetically, they aren’t comparable. Both use PayPal for payment. But initially, page load times are quite different:

First speeds: 1.3 seconds hand-coded versus 3.8 seconds WordPress theme.

New WordPress 2016 theme BoomAdapter.com
New WordPress 2016 theme BoomAdapter.com website. Initial load time: 3.8 seconds. Way too slow! Got to get it under 2 seconds.

Seeing the WebPagetest speed results, it was obvious the hand-coded website beat the WordPress site by a significant margin. Our goal (performance budget) is a 2-second page load on cheap, shared Linux hosting. Could we get the WordPress website to load faster?

We’d already experimented with the Twenty-Sixteen WordPress default theme. We knew it was fast. We decided to add some plugin features and optimize.

We added 21 plugin functions. The speed plugins are all indicated with a red asterisk*:

Better WordPress Minify*
Allows you to minify your CSS and JS files for faster page loading for visitors. This plugin uses the PHP library Minify and relies on WordPress’s enqueueing system rather than the output buffer (will not break your website in most cases). This plugin is very customizable and easy to use.

Block Bad Queries (BBQ)
Automatically protects WordPress against malicious URL requests.

Brute Force Login Protection
Protects your website against brute force login attacks using .htaccess.

Captcha on Login
Protect your blog from login brute force attacks adding a captcha on login page.

Date and Time Widget
Widget that displays the local date and/or time.

Disable Emojis*
This plugin disables the new emoji functionality in WordPress 4.2. This speeds up pages.

Disable Google Fonts*
Disable enqueuing of Open Sans and other Google fonts used by WordPress.

Email Address Encoder
A lightweight plugin to protect email addresses from email-harvesting robots by encoding them into decimal and hexadecimal entities.

Far Future Expiration Header*
This plugin will add a “far future expiration” date for various file types to improve site performance. Enable Gzip feature.

Image Widget
A simple image widget that uses the native WordPress media manager to add image widgets to your site.

Limit Login Attempts
Limit rate of login attempts, including by way of cookies, for each IP.

Plugin Logic
Activate plugins on pages only if they are really needed.

Rocket Lazy Load*
The tiny Lazy Load script for WordPress without jQuery or others libraries.

SC Scrollup
The Plugin will Add a scroll-up. top-of-page button on your website.

ShortPixel Image Optimiser*
ShortPixel optimizes images automatically, while guarding the quality of your images. Makes your website load faster.

Very Simple Contact Form
This is a very simple contact form. Use a shortcode to display form on page or use the widget.

Visitor Mailer
Receive an email update of the number of unique visitors to your site.

WP Easy Paypal Payment Accept
Accept paypal payment for a service or product or donation in one click. Can be used in the sidebar, posts and pages.

WP Image Borders
Add or remove image borders from pictures in your blog posts and pages.

WP jQuery Plus*
Loads jQuery from Google CDN using the exact version as your current WordPress install.

WP Super Cache*
Very fast caching plugin for WordPress.

What kind of speed improvement did we see on the WordPress website after adding 21 plugins?

First view: 1.5 seconds and Repeat view: 1.2 seconds! Twice as fast and under 2 seconds.

PagePipe helps you balance performance and mobile branding.

What others think of us:


"Bloat was out, lean and speedy sites on multiple platforms with easy editing was the new target. Steve hit the bullseye with our new WordPress sites … Give Steve a call if you're serious about a highly effective website for your business or organization." visitpalouse.com Washington, USA

by - Mike Milano