red speed

Save the Internet from WordPress speed abuse.

Updated: September 2017

4 minute read

Visual Composer is a $34 page builder for WordPress.

We don’t review paid plugins – unless it’s a roast or exposé. Visual composer is a page builder that adds Javascript and CSS files. Your site is faster loading built without it. How much would it improve speed to dump it? We guesstimate between 500 milliseconds and 1 second. Not too bad. Visual Composer plugin does consume limited server resources on shared hosting. That can get your site suspended temporarily.

We don’t use Page Builders. Mobile sites don’t usually need them with only one column of content. We find them too frustrating (slow) and in the end we can get the same results (only faster) using discrete plugins and other workarounds.

We did an investigation of a PagePipe reader’s site. It was built with Visual Composer using the $25 paid theme Vertikal:

Theme
Vertikal (built on top of Bootstrap).
Vertikal theme is a multipurpose theme.
Author: PremiumLayers.
Features left, vertical, animated navigation menu.


BEST-CASE SCENARIO
Pingdom.com to Dallas, TX, USA:

BEFORE

Load time: 3 seconds
Page weight: 925k
Requests: 52

AFTER

Load time: 874 milliseconds
Page weight: 473k
Requests: 51

NOTE: You can hit subsecond testing with Pingdom.com. Run it twice. The first pass is the unprimed-cache load time (first visit) and the second is the primed-cache time (return visit).


WORST-CASE SCENARIO
WebPagetest.org to Dulles, VA, USA:

BEFORE

Load time: 4.4 seconds
Page weight: 918k
Requests: 53
TTFB: 1.35 seconds < This is a killer. Time To First Byte is the time it takes to start rendering your screen.

Time-to-first-byte is a measurement (in milliseconds) indicating the responsiveness of a web server. It’s the server “speed overhead.”

AFTER

Load time: 1.993 seconds
Page weight: 465k
Requests: 51
TTFB: 364 milliseconds

TTFB was improved with Cache Enabler plugin.

More about TTFB here.

Cache Enabler and WP Super Simple Speed combined. Cache Enabler will improve TTFB for some inexplicable reason on some hosting (like GoDaddy). How much? Twice the TTFB speed. WP Super Simple Speed will enable Gzip for you – among other things. Don’t be afraid of the two-year staleness warning on WP Super Simple Speed plugin. It works fine with PHP 7.1.


Cloudflare CDN, the free version, doesn’t always help – or worse – is a detriment:
http://pagepipe.com/cloudflare-doesnt-guarantee-consistent-load-times/

Try and get speed without a CDN – using strategy and plugin tricks. CDN is a last-ditch rescue.

Contact Form 7
Appears to be globally loading.
http://pagepipe.com/contact-form-7-plugin-causes-global-site-drag/

Google fonts
Open Sans and PT Sans Narrow.
see link below next item.

FontAwesome
Activated (enqueued).
http://pagepipe.com/should-i-disable-font-awesome-and-google-fonts-for-improved-speed/
Your theme is using FontAwesome for little icons (phone, envelope, etc) better not mess with it.

Popup Magnific loading but not seen.
http://pagepipe.com/selective-plugin-deactivation/
Responsive lightbox plugin available on GitHub.

Flexslider
Activated (but not used on home page).
http://pagepipe.com/misunderstood-asset-queue-manager-speed-plugins-has-great-performance-potential/

Regular jQuery
Enqueued.
http://pagepipe.com/%ef%bb%bfis-removing-the-default-version-of-jquery-in-wordpress-irresponsible/

WP jQuery Plus is undetectable. It depends upon if the Google version is in the cache. Which it probably is. But no speed test will reflect the improvement of an asset that is already present. It’s transparent. But you will see changes in the “waterfall” of page elements. Check that for file name changes. This helps you verify where the jQuery source is coming from.

Images: 7 PNGs and 1 JPG. Low-hanging fruit

60% of page weight is images (pretty typical). Three optimize-image suggestions:


Reduced to actual dimensions of PNG 250px wide instead of JPG 2,048 px wide. File size reduction: 166k to 8k = 158k savings.

 


Convert from PNG to JPG. Reduction: 267k to 35k = 232k savings.

 


Convert from PNG to JPG. Reduction: 80k to 18k savings = 62k savings.

Changing those three images reduce the page weight by 452k. The original image weight total was 552k. So this reduces the image weight by 81 percent. With no loss in image quality.

Unfortunately, even drastic image changes often won’t reduce speed by half.

Free download about optimizing JPEG images >

To replace the images, we suggest Replace Image plugin.

Comments are “on.”
http://pagepipe.com/does-akismet-plugin-help-or-hinder-wordpress-page-speed/

Emojis are “on.”
http://pagepipe.com/how-to-eliminate-deadweight-emojis-in-wordpress/

What made the biggest improvements? Cache Enabler plugin reduced TTFB from 1.35 seconds to 364 milliseconds. Image optimization did the rest of the heavy lifting.

Suggestions
“How good is good enough” depends upon percentage of audience visits via mobile devices. They need better speed than required by desktop visitors. Google recommends below 3 second load time. We recommended 2 seconds.

Here is our reader’s question:
“What is your recommendation for developing WP pages? Is there an editor that can make developing pages more time effective while still enabling a fast loading website?”

WordPress is adding Gutenberg editor to WordPress 5.0 core. It will change how pages are built. Study about it or test with the Gutenberg plugin.

Matt Mullenweg Addresses Concerns About Gutenberg, Confirms New Editor to Ship with WordPress 5.0

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


"I'm so thankful to you, Steve for helping me throughout. That page loads very fast." quvor.com Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

by - Faizan Shaikh