Interview with Steve Teare, mobile-performance engineer – and outcast speed rebel.

PagePipe is a team of collaborative web professionals. We’re a distributed company (aka collaborative network of remote workers). We operate from our homes.

Our specialty is building mobile-first WordPress websites. We curate content about WordPress performance optimization. Our obsession is page speed. That differentiates us from other web developers.

Speed affects website user experience. Everyone hates a slow site.
Our minimum web service fees:
  • Site tuning: $500.
  • Blogs: $1,800.
  • Ecommerce stores: $3,000.

We build with open-source assets. This can save client’s over $500 per year in reduced website overhead.

We do fixed-bid contracts (no hourly rates or overtime). Fees depend upon project scope and complexity. Projects must be completed within 90 days or we renegotiate the fee.

Sorry. We don’t publish a portfolio!
Isn’t a portfolio the way designers get work? Not really. The conventional way is by referral. Portfolios are the way designers lose work. What? Seriously? They lose work because they’re so bad? No. Because portfolio pieces aren’t real. They’re more real than real. Beyond-real Disneyland fantasy. Exaggerations.

Websites aren’t artwork. The typical shelf-life of a website is 3 years. Our expertise is solving real-world, page-speed problems.

If you look at this spinner long enough, it turns into a back button.

We produce projects in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Proposal.
  • Phase 2: Wireframe and style guide presentation.
  • Phase 3: Final working site.

We inspect and expect unrealized potential. If we can’t make a difference, we won’t take on your project.

We invite you to email us or meet via Skype. Or let’s talk on the phone: 509-878-1538.

 


STEVE’S STORY

I discovered the definition of user experience in spring 2010. I already preached a unknown UX doctrine. I called *web hospitality* or *web habitat.* The new found definition of UX resonated with me. I found home.

I made a study of UX. It’s full of ivory-tower dogma and vanity metrics making no difference. Or stakeholder committees didn’t support the politics of neutralizing their dictator power. UX was hand-waving.

I became disillusioned and labeled it pseudoscience.

During previous years, I produced dozens of hand-coded experimental sites. I pushed expressive aesthetic (branding with thematic communications) and dynamic design (pre-responsive?) to new levels of speed. At the time, I was making my living doing marketing consultation and graphic design for print. People thought I was a nut fiddling with esoteric websites. These pages loaded in under 300 milliseconds on shared hosting. Page weights varied from 25 to 50 kilobytes. It’s surprising what you can do when you’re obsessed.

So I was pushing the envelope building pages called “Framed Hybrids.” The pages used dynamic resizing to fit any screen dimensions. And loaded super fast. I used old-school HTML Frames technology and XML/Flash images. It was cool but nobody cared. Creative but not innovative. Innovation requires a paying audience or at least applause. No $$$. I had no allies.

CMS (like WordPress) came along – and then mobile. Everything changed. What I had to say had technical importance – even if my unconventional methods were obsolete. All those thankless hours working and testing started paying off.

I was a late-adopter to WordPress because it was such a speed slug. A friend, Christian Nelson, challenged me and said, “Then make WordPress do what you want.” I hadn’t considered modification and began speed research focusing on WordPress. Total geekiness.

My focus was on how people *feel* when using a website.

I set a deliberate self-imposed limitation of finding free, non-coding solutions. I used open-source plugins from the 55,000 plugin directory. I would save the Internet from WordPress. In actually, it’s apathetic and novice designers that ruin the Internet. WordPress, the scapegoat, gets the blame.

I developed a hierarchical core philosophy of three hurdles to achieving good UX. The first barrier: speed. It carried the most weight. Then came 50-millisecond subliminal aesthetics. This is color usage and first impression aka halo bias. And the third, friction. When I talked about friction, no one understood. They didn’t get it. They wanted to talk about SEO and site traffic volume.

I decided to focus on mobile page speed.

Steve Teare
performance engineer


Who is Steve Teare?

Steve Teare, WordPress Performance Engineer

I’m a performance engineer and advocate of “Plugin Surgery.” My first priority is evangelizing origin optimization. Not site repair with post-launch-band-aids like third-party CDN, managed hosting, or caching services.

Web experiences are your offering to visitors. That experience creates economic value and competitive advantage. Relevant content is the experience they seek but first they must overcome the hurdle of slow speed. Page speed affects a user’s first impression of quality, hospitality, and belonging.

Origin Optimization is strategic and requires value analysis – and stoic temperance. Value analysis is combination, simplification, elimination, standardization, and substitution. Stoic temperance means saying “no” to frivolity. Stop goofing around adding extraneous junk to your site.

Globally-loading site drag comes from plugins such as:

  • WooCommerce
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • Contact Form 7
  • Yuzo Related Posts
  • Yoast SEO

… and many more. Tons more. You can duplicate the results of many paid plugins like WP Rocket with free discrete plugins. There’s a research correlation. The more popular the plugin, the slower it loads. In fact, it’s the slowest.

Do too many plugins slow down your site? No. It’s quality, not quantity. PagePipe has 64 active plugins. Pippin Williamson, the author of Easy Digital Downloads, has over 80 plugins running on some of his sites!

Cure slow-loading pages using selective plugin activation – or plugin substitution – or elimination. Think about Plugin Surgery.

Learn how to reduce site drag on PagePipe. For free.

I curate educational materials and content about mobile-first WordPress speed. I’m an unconventional and creative idealist. I survive by selling original ideas. I specialize in using fast-loading, free, web resources.

I served a two year misson in Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those were bad days for Argentina. Hyperinflation, Los Desaparecidos, and a military coup (golpe de estado) caused intense suffering. I have a tender place in my heart for Argentinian people, culture, and food.

The experience taught me principles of self-reliance and self-discipline. Paper money and electronic blips are meaningless representations of value. Fragile and intangible. Gone in a moment. I have worthless, but colorful, Argentine money framed in my living room. It’s a painful reminder of hyperinflation.

Those survival hardships – and the resiliency of the Argentine people – educated me. They are important lessons about optimization and value analysis.

Without speed, there’s no beauty in web design. – Steve Teare

Slow speed is an opportunity cost. But ask yourself, “How much does “creating” fast speed cost you in annual overhead?” Convert that wasted money to profits. Dump your recurring annual rental fees!

Speed eBooks and Do-It-Yourself speed information

TOXIC WORDPRESS – EBOOK
Learn how the most popular plugins and ideas waste your time – and hurt web speed. Includes important tips for mobile speed without coding. The assumption is “popularity” is good. For plugins, that’s usually decided by looking at the number of active installs. Active installs is not a sign of quality or performance. It’s a standard of herd mentality.

Learn more about “Toxic WordPress”


SPEED CLONES – PLUGINS
We sell 12 different
downloadable issues about our research findings. These reports reveal clone equivalents or substitutes. If you’re ready to give your WordPress site wings, here are powerful tools to speed up your site. Our open-source ideas substitute costly popular plugins and alternative themes. They save you recurring annual *rent* for pro plugins and themes.

Speed up your site and save money


PAGE-SPEED STARTER – RESOURCES
We test and report
on plugin and theme speed potential. These open-source stratagems are our discoveries in the free WordPress online directories. You can learn how to speed up your site without coding by reading PagePipe blog articles.

Benefit from these articles – start here


FREE – SPEED TEST
We offer a free online four-part speed test
to help you check your websites. The Test includes Time to First Byte (server response), Load-time Speed, Percent Image Weight, and Shared Hosting. How good is good enough?

Do the free quick test


 

IRRESISTIBLE OFFER
for WooCommerce professionals only

PagePipe invites you to steal this $9.95 performance ebook, WooComa.

Free for a limited time. Signup required.
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13-page ebook,
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Interview with Steve Teare,
mobile-performance engineer.

Who is PagePipe and what do you do?
Steve Teare
Steve Teare, performance engineer, produces fast-loading WordPress websites on slower, mobile devices.

We’re a mobile-speed technology company. We do WordPress speed evaluation and research. That’s value analysis of mobile page assets in millisecond load times. Value analysis is a concept we’ve borrowed from industrial manufacturing. It’s a method for building quality into products without depleting scarce resources.

We use value analysis principles from lean manufacturing and high-tech startups. Applying these unconventional perspectives to websites is our discipline. We sell our business expertise as speed analysts and problem solvers. That includes faster, simpler, non-coding solutions with WordPress-authorized themes and plugins. We help you discover unrealized opportunities for speed improvement.

Why should site owners and developers care about speed?

Many slow web assets don’t contribute to profit goals or site objectives. They’re fluffy – and often have a negative effect – slowing down page load time. Value analysis identifies the worst wasteful practices impacting a site. And then we recommend tested ways to improve.

You didn’t ask. But let us tell you why we care most about speed. You might think we’re curious about technology and love creativity. Those are true. But the biggest reason is fast-loading web pages are kind. You’re treating your audience as you’d like to be treated. They sense that Golden Rule in their subconscious. Your site feels like a good place, a pleasant home. That’s what speed can do. People sense you care.

Value analysis includes 5 components: combination, simplification, elimination, standardization, and substitution. These fundamentals require creativity and wise judgment.

Speed affects SEO less than 1 percent. Many web people assume speed is crucial. It’s thought critical for good search engine optimization (SEO). We’ve learned that’s not completely true. It may be a lie. It’s a hard thing when big *credible* sources don’t tell it straight or hide facts about speed. Speed myths are perpetuated and exaggerated by people selling services. They see a sweet opportunity to create anxiety. Anxiety sells painkillers.

Is market pain about mobile speed increasing?

Yes. Speed is a game changer. We see important adjustments on the horizon. These include Google Mobile-first Indexing and also deregulation of Internet service providers (Net-Neutrality changes). Also, undisciplined excesses using popular page builders encourage abuse of WordPress. These include Gutenberg, Elementor, and Beaver Builder. Page builders aren’t bad. Yet, the infinite addition of heavy features by the untrained is a future speed problem.

We thought Google already monitored speed. Is that changing?

Google paid lip-service to speed. It’s been years since Google announced speed’s inclusion in page rankings. But that edict had no teeth. There was no impetus for speed improvement and pages got heavier and heavier – and slower. Google is changing how they rank pages. They’ll evaluate mobile friendliness with various parameters. Foremost mobile ranking signals are responsive design and second is speed. Fast page speed then becomes a principle competitive advantage. It’s always been important for UX – but now more so for SEO.

And what do changes in Net Neutrality have to do with PagePipe?

The deregulation of service providers means big businesses must pay prime rates. That’s right. The “fast lane” will cost. Now you know why the biggest world corporations wanted unchanged regulatory controls. It meant avoiding paying prime data-transmission rates. Soon, if you’ve got money, you’ll get preferential speed treatment. Those with few resources, like us, must quit ignoring speed. And build a strategically fast site from the ground up. No more speed repairs after the fact. Bake-in speed. That’s what we teach and practice at PagePipe: speed potential within site-owner’s limited resources.

So what is PagePipe’s competitive speed strategy?

Our most important speed strategy includes avoiding paid themes and popular plugins that are sluggards. Especially extravagant paid or premium add-ons. We’ve found the more popular a theme or plugin is the slower it is. Why? It’s complicated. It’s influenced by code obsolescence, feature creep, and gold plating to increase perceived market value. Those are factors of unsound ruses and mismanagement. Pretense strikes again. The unknowing herd follows.

WHY IS PAGEPIPE CRITIQUING AND RESEARCHING SPEED TECHNIQUES THAT ARE MOST USEFUL – AND EXPOSING THOSE THAT ARE WASTEFUL?

The need to optimize and discover efficiency is in our business DNA. We can’t stop ourselves from finding unrealized opportunity in speed. Is this our gift or a sickness? It depends upon the degree of desperation to be healed. We’ve healed some pretty sick sites. But others need hospice. A dying site’s potential  salvage is an unrealistic possibility. Nurse it along. Get your new replacement site ready.

Avoid paid WordPress themes and popular plugins? Isn’t that too simple?

Research by DoubleClick says if a page takes more than three seconds to load, the bounce rate rises to 53 percent.

You have to make wise choices. We help guide you. It’s often what is not openly revealed or explained by plugin and theme authors that kill speed. Sins of omission. Things they are able to do and ought to do – but apathetically don’t. To find the truth always requires testing. We do that.

Another big secret of our strategy is selective activation of plugins. Most people don’t realize plugins cause global site drag. This is where plugins load on every page of your site whether they’re used or not. For example, Contact Form 7 and Yoast SEO plugins add weight to every page of your site – not just your contact page. Those two plugins are on millions and millions of sites. There are better alternatives.

PagePipe has a low opinion of online speed tests. Can you clarify why?

Think With Google found if a page’s load time goes from one second to five seconds, the bounce rate goes up by 90 percent.

Online speed test scores are especially useless. These include lame tests like Google PageSpeed Insights. Many test-result recommendations don’t make any measurable difference in speed. They’re not real-world practicalities. They sound rational and appeal to logic. But they’re a waste of time and energy. You’ll drive yourself mad attempting to achieve perfect test scores. Google doesn’t even use test scores in page ranking.

So if speed test scores don’t matter, what does?

Forget scores. It’s load time in milliseconds and page weight in cumulative file size. Those make the biggest difference, especially for mobile audiences. Speed is critical for good user experience (UX). Readable, relevant content is most important for SEO. But impatient visitors won’t wait for slow pages. Then you waste your hard-earned relevant content and it’s never seen. Most sites are “not good enough” for mobile users.

how can you tell if speed is helping?

Important UX signals to watch include metrics about Dwell Time and Click Through Rate (CTR). Dwell Time – how long readers stay on pages – is an indicator of relevance. Click Through is also an indicator of relevance. Relevance moves you up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). These actions show the audience’s motivation or intent.

How does speed affect mobile UX?

Speed is one of the best ways to achieve positive “feelings” of credibility for visitors. User experience is about how people feel when they use your website. Be hospitable. Be polite. Give them speed. Speed is the first indicator of quality. People hate slow pages. The reason to be fast is because you care about people. You can’t measure caring and empathy with metrics like Google Analytics.

What is the worst cause of slow mobile pages?

Apathy is the greatest cause of horrible speed.

Our Pingdom.com speed test results. Yes! The very page you’re reading right now. Only 839-millisecond load time on cheap, shared GoDaddy magnetic hosting. No CDN. It can be done. And we have 64 active, open-source plugins! It’s plugin quality – not quantity – making a difference in speed. The average number of plugins on most WordPress websites is 25.

Feel that tingling in your fingertips?
That’s the magnetic urge to contact us.

You care about mobile WordPress speed. So, email us questions about your page speed problems. Be specific. What are you searching for? Do you have a goal? Email us

We plan, design, and oversee website quality. PagePipe solves web problems with creativity, excellence, and intense curiosity. We consult on strategy – in particular balancing mobile speed and aesthetics. That’s about how people feel when they use your website. We’re your speed partner. We submit bids for website re-construction or consultation on request. Email or call us 509-878-1538 Pacific.

PagePipe@SteveTeare.com

+1-509-878-1538
Pacific time zone.
Unusual hours.

Palouse, Washington
USA

If you’re new here, start with our best primer speed articles.

If you’re ready to give your WordPress site wings, here are powerful tools to speed up your site.

Learn how the most popular plugins and ideas waste your time – and hurt web speed. Includes important tips for mobile speed without coding.

PagePipe is a mobile-speed technology company.