PagePipe’s secret sauce for loading 61 plugins in less than 1 second for mobile speed.

WordPress Mobile Speed

Updated: October 2019


There are no affiliate links on PagePipe.

 

We turn conventional speed wisdom on its head. Sixty-four active plugins – on our site – load in under a second. Amazing. What’s our secret sauce?

When we do a speed audit – whether for PagePipe or for a client – we dial back PHP 7.x to version PHP 5.6. Then we can run P3 plugin. The goal is getting some feedback of where 80 percent of plugin speed goes – and reduce that load. It’s Pareto’s principle in action: the 80/20 rule.

http://pagepipe.com/tweak-mobile-speed-using-good-old-p3-plugin-performance-profiler/

We use selective activation or deactivation of plugins on URLs. That’s the real-top-secret sauce. Most people don’t know plugins can add weight globally to websites. Not just to the page where they’re used. For example, Contact Form 7 adds about 43 milliseconds to every page and post on a site. It’s global loading and we call it “site drag.” It’s best to activate that plugin only on the contact page.

Next, we remove plugins whose features don’t add much value. You’ll see in this audit we removed 8 test plugins for a gain of 194 milliseconds. “Good work, Steve!” [breaks arm patting himself on back].

But it’s theoretical. P3 isn’t that accurate. You have to check real gains in milliseconds with Pingdom.com or WebPagetest.org.

We labeled all deactivated plugins used during maintenance as “offline” in the table below. Deactivated, mothballed plugins don’t slow down a website. That’s a common myth. No harm.

So the total estimated plugin load time is 435 milliseconds (±30 percent). But that’s never loaded at the same time on all pages and post. Because  selective activation saves the day again! More tweaking is always possible – but go for the low hanging fruit first. We even use selective activation to rid us of nasty plugin conflicts.

A selective activation example.

Easy Digital Downloads is a heavy 158-millisecond ecommerce plugin.  It’s not activated on our high traffic pages. This accomplishes our main goals for now. We’ll tweak more later on that one. We repeat: selective plugin activation is the secret. It keeps the Home page fast on shared magnetic hosting with no CDN.

The plugins causing the most trouble to configure are Watu Quiz, Easy Digital Downloads, and  UpDraft Plus. They required serious thinking and a learning curve. What made the effort worth the trouble? These are complex functions and important site features. It’d be a nightmare and tedious to achieve any other way. We prefer plug-and-play plugins with no settings. But for these three that’s impossible. They need customizing and making many settings. Once you’re done, it feels great. Like when you stop pounding your head against a brick wall.

“Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” – Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.

Our original intent was writing about each of our 58+ plugins. That’s too much work. So we decided to summarize PagePipe’s speed strategy.

OUR SPEED STRATEGY

PagePipe uses the default Twenty-seventeen theme. We’ve studied it, tested it, experimented, torture-tested, and written a lot about it. It’s fast.

Deciding what not to do on your site is just as important for speed as what you do.

What you won’t see on PagePipe:

1. Social Links (especially *like* counters).

2. Comments.

3. Third-party ads or affiliate links.

4. Google Maps.

5. Contact form plugins.

6. Google Fonts.

7. Font Awesome.

8. CDN (like CloudFlare). We don’t use CDN. Period.

9. Special hosting (instead: common shared cheap).

10. Hundreds of JPEG featured images on blog posts (rotation instead).

11. HTTPS/SSL certification.

12. Popular TOP100 plugins.

13. Paid premium plugins or themes.

14. Alteration to PHP code or server side programming.

15. Google AMP.

16. SEO plugins.

17. Minification.

18. Emojis.

19. Slider on the Home page.

20. Google noCaptcha Captcha.

Things you will see on PagePipe:

1. Add Search to Menu – necessary for this theme. No sidebars on pages. [We no longer use this plugin. That’s here but we do on other sites.]

2. Add Widget After Content and Simple Content Adder (for top of content). These two plugins allow two random rotators for images and testimonials on all posts. They are selectively deactivated on pages.

3. A bunch of magic security plugins.

4. Optimization plugins

5. Evergreen content enhancers

6. Every resource we use is free! WordPress, the theme, and the plugins.


PLUGIN AUDIT TABLE

Our PagePipe plugins below are ranked slowest to fastest. We then examine the 80/20 ratio and focus the cumulative cutoff at 80 percent. Offenders are shown in “red.” Their value must be justified. Notice we deleted some heavy and redundant ones.

plugin namemspercentcumulativeactivation/deactivation
Easy Digital Downloads158.236.35%36.35%Home & 2 conflicts
WP Experiments Free0.00%36.35%Deleted 109.9ms
Worth The Read0.00%36.35%Deleted 44.8ms
Simple Content Adder40.39.26%45.61%Home & 2 pages
WordPress Popular Posts31.77.28%52.90%Home & pages – posts only
Broken Link Checker0.00%52.90%Offline 28.3
WordPress 23 Related Posts Plugin25.45.84%58.73%Home & 4 pages
WP Image Refresh23.45.38%64.11%Home & 3 pages
WP Counter0.00%64.11%Deleted 19.8ms
Easy Forms for MailChimp18.84.32%68.43%one page
UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore17.33.98%72.40%run weekly
WP HTaccess Editor0.00%72.40%Offline 16.6ms
PDF Image Generator0.00%72.40%Deleted 15.3ms
Blog Manager Light9.72.23%74.63%blog listing directories
Redirection9.42.16%76.79%
Post Notif9.42.16%78.95%
WP Super Simple Speed8.92.05%81.00%ecommerce pages
Cache Enabler8.61.98%82.97%ecommerce pages
Limit Login Attempts Reloaded7.71.77%84.74%
Watu Quiz6.11.40%86.14%mailchimp conflict 1pg
WP Thor Heartbeat6.01.38%87.52%mailchimp conflict 1pg
Master Slider4.91.13%88.65%on catalog page
Block Bad Queries (BBQ)4.71.08%89.73%
Lazy Load by WP Rocket4.71.08%90.81%video lazy load conflict
Quotes4.00.92%91.73%two pages
Optimize Database Delete Revisions0.00%91.73%Offline 4.0ms
Simple Drop Cap2.90.67%92.39%
WP Editor Widget2.80.64%83.62%
Title Remover2.70.62%84.24%
Admin Post Navigation2.40.55%84.79%
Add Search To Menu2.20.51%85.29%
Disable Comments2.20.51%85.80%
Asset Queue Manager0.00%85.80%offline 2ms
Imsanity0.00%85.80%offline 2ms
WEN Responsive Columns0.00%85.80%delete redundant 1.9ms
Add Widget After Content1.80.41%86.21%
Beacon Plugin0.00%86.21%Offline 1.5ms
Disable Emojis1.40.32%86.53%
HW Image Widget1.30.30%86.83%
Plugin Logic Rules1.20.28%87.11%
Easy Table1.20.28%87.39%pages not posts
Perfect Pullquotes1.10.25%87.64%pages not posts
Pro Related Post Widget1.10.25%87.89%Home & 2 pages
Shortcode For Current Date1.10.25%88.14%Home & 2 pages
WP jQuery Plus0.00%88.14%Deleted redundant 1.1ms
Change Table Prefix1.00.23%88.37%
Email Address Encoder1.00.23%88.60%
Host Analytics js Local1.00.23%88.83%
Deactivate XML-RPC Service0.90.21%89.04%
Lazy Load XT0.90.21%89.25%Video & conflict pages
Tuxedo Big File Uploads0.80.18%89.43%
Query Strings Remover0.00%89.43%Deleted redundant 0.8ms
Remove Google Fonts References0.80.18%89.61%
Far Future Expiry Header0.00%89.61%Deleted redundant 0.6ms
Hide Featured Image0.60.14%89.75%
Simple WP Sitemap0.50.11%89.87%
WP Author Date and Meta Remover0.50.11%89.98%
Current Year & Copyright Shortcodes0.40.09%90.07%
Plugin Logic0.40.09%90.17%
Restore Image Title0.40.09%90.26%Home & 1 page
Enable Media Replace0.30.07%90.33%
One-Click Child Theme0.30.07%90.40%on two pages (2017 theme)
WENS Responsive Column Shortcodes0.30.07%90.46%where used
Restore Image Title0.20.05%90.51%
Server-Mail-Check0.20.05%90.56%
Simple back to top0.10.02%90.58%two conflict pages
CAOS Analytics0.00.00%90.58%
TOTAL milliseconds435.2
active plugin count53

Godspeed-

Steve Teare
performance engineer

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