red speed

Save the Internet from WordPress speed abuse.

Updated: October 2017

3 minute read

Fans of the cultural-phenomenon Cypher graphic-novel maintain Cypherfansite.com. Cypher was first published by Gibbs Smith Publishers as a hard-cover in September, 1997. Brad Teare is the author and illustrator. The graphic novel is unique in many aspects. The most noteworthy is it’s hand-drawn in comic book format using laborious scratchboard techniques.

A few online tools help us examine the workings of this website.

cypher-placeit
The fansite on a desktop computer screen.

What WP Theme Is That?

Next, we go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ to find the theme and a few plugins:

From the results, we learn that the site is using a free WordPress theme called Editor by Array Themes (788k zip file download, 1.2M decompressed). The file sizes show that this theme is fast loading. Our rule of thumb is under 1M zip-file download. That will usually yield a theme that loads in under two seconds with cache cleared. This proves true with Editor theme usage on the Cypher fansite. First load of the home page with cache cleared is about 1.5 seconds. With the cache loaded (for return visitors), the page loads in about 1 second.

And there is one free plugin: Simple Scroll To Top. There are more as we’ll discover in a few minutes.

Stylify Me

Next, we take a look at the theme’s “brand manual.” We use http://stylifyme.com/ . It will generate a 3-page PDF, style-guide download from the home page:

We learn that Google’s Roboto Condensed is the headline font (H1, H2, and H6). And, we see Source Sans Pro is the body text.

Stylify PDF’s Page 2 (below) shows sample images and page 3 (not shown) is a screen grab of the entire page. Stylify is a nice tool for preparing client presentations.

PAge 2 of the Stylify PDF.
Page 2 of the Stylify PDF.

Yslow

We use the Yslow extension for the Google Chrome browser to look further at the page components:

Yslow
Click image for enlarged view.

This information tells us that GZIP compression is enabled. That makes the code load faster. There are 144.5k of images total for the page and the page weight is 284.5k. This is typical that half of the page weight is images.

The only thing that might make the page load faster would be removing the Fontawesome webfont (72.4k + 4.9k = 77.3k).  This involves messing around in the code. This is not worth it for a site that already loads in about 2 seconds – fast enough.

Small improvement potential: A minification plugin might help a little for speed. Also, loading jQuery from Google’s repository might help. Removing emoji’s with a plugin is also minor. But still probably not worth the effort. A caching plugin would be helpful perhaps.

WebPagetest is an online performance utility. Using http://www.webpagetest.org/, we find pretty lousy results for speed. But it is more accurate than our browser timer. First view: 3 seconds and Repeat view: 1.2 seconds. These are unacceptable.

Free WordPress Plugins

We install the following free plugins. They are explained on our Speed page:

Better WordPress Minify

Disable Google Fonts

Disable Emojis

Email Address Encoder

Far Future Expiration Header

Rocket Lazy Load

WP jQuery Plus

WP Super Cache

Did those plugins help the speed?

First view
Before: 3 seconds
After: 1.750 seconds

Repeat view
Before: 1.2 seconds
After: 1.075 seconds

The most important thing is we shaved off 1 second from the initial load time. We are now under 2 seconds. Our performance budget is achieved. Page weight using Yslow assessment is reduced to 184.4k total (from 284.5k). We could still kill Fontawesome (77k extra) but decide it’s not worth the trouble.

NOTE: How to kill Font Awesome.
Add this function to your child theme’s functions.php file:

add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'generate_custom_scripts', 10 );
function generate_custom_scripts() {
wp_dequeue_style( 'fontawesome' );
}

Learn how to disable Font Awesome with a plugin here: READ MORE

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