Updated: January 2019
INTERNATIONAL SITE OWNERS: Get under 2-second load time on cheap, shared magnetic hosting. No CDN cheating. And still use dozens of free WordPress plugins!

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:

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

Pingdom.com to Dallas, TX, USA:


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


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).

WebPagetest.org to Dulles, VA, USA:


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.”


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. WP Super Simple Speed enables 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:

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.

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

Activated (enqueued).
Your theme is using FontAwesome for little icons (phone, envelope, etc) better not mess with it.

Popup Magnific loading but not seen.
Responsive lightbox plugin available on GitHub.

Activated (but not used on home page).

Regular jQuery

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 Enable Media Replace plugin (200,000+ active installs).

Comments are “on.”

Emojis are “on.”

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.

“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.




Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:

"My website became awesomely fast AND looks great too. ... I’ve learnt what to look out for in choosing a fast loading Wordpress theme. And what plugins to use to meet speed, security, SEO and other requirements. I’ve also learnt how to customise a Wordpress theme to meet my own design criteria. Steve patiently coached me through the whole process. He helped me to think creatively about every aspect of my website project, including my design and marketing objectives. " CarolynGillan.com Plymouth, Devon, England

- Carolyn Gillan

Best WordPress Performance Tuning
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