Updated: January 2018
We turn conventional speed wisdom on its head. Fifty-three 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 7.1 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.
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 53+ 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).
4. Google Maps.
7. Font Awesome.
8. CDN (like CloudFlare). We don’t use CDN. Period.
9. Special hosting (instead: common shared cheap).
14. Alteration to PHP code or server side programming.
15. Google AMP.
16. SEO plugins.
19. Slider on the Home page.
Things you will see on PagePipe:
1. Add Search to Menu – necessary for this theme. No sidebars on pages.
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.
4. Optimization plugins
- Cache Enabler
- Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS)
- Lazy Load by WP Rocket (still images)
Lazy Load XT (video)
- Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
- P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
- Plugin Logic
- Remove Google Fonts References
- WP Super Simple Speed
- Disable Emojis
- Current Year and Copyright Shortcodes
- Shortcode For Current Date
- WP Author, Date and Meta Remover
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.
|Easy Digital Downloads||158.2||36.35%||36.35%||Home & 2 conflicts|
|WP Experiments Free||0.00%||36.35%||Deleted 109.9ms|
|Worth The Read||0.00%||36.35%||Deleted 44.8ms|
|Simple Content Adder||40.3||9.26%||45.61%||Home & 2 pages|
|WordPress Popular Posts||31.7||7.28%||52.90%||Home & pages – posts only|
|Broken Link Checker||0.00%||52.90%||Offline 28.3|
|WordPress 23 Related Posts Plugin||25.4||5.84%||58.73%||Home & 4 pages|
|WP Image Refresh||23.4||5.38%||64.11%||Home & 3 pages|
|WP Counter||0.00%||64.11%||Deleted 19.8ms|
|Easy Forms for MailChimp||18.8||4.32%||68.43%||one page|
|UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore||17.3||3.98%||72.40%||run weekly|
|WP HTaccess Editor||0.00%||72.40%||Offline 16.6ms|
|PDF Image Generator||0.00%||72.40%||Deleted 15.3ms|
|Blog Manager Light||9.7||2.23%||74.63%||blog listing directories|
|WP Super Simple Speed||8.9||2.05%||81.00%||ecommerce pages|
|Cache Enabler||8.6||1.98%||82.97%||ecommerce pages|
|Limit Login Attempts Reloaded||7.7||1.77%||84.74%|
|Watu Quiz||6.1||1.40%||86.14%||mailchimp conflict 1pg|
|WP Thor Heartbeat||6.0||1.38%||87.52%||mailchimp conflict 1pg|
|Master Slider||4.9||1.13%||88.65%||on catalog page|
|Block Bad Queries (BBQ)||4.7||1.08%||89.73%|
|Lazy Load by WP Rocket||4.7||1.08%||90.81%||video lazy load conflict|
|Optimize Database Delete Revisions||0.00%||91.73%||Offline 4.0ms|
|Simple Drop Cap||2.9||0.67%||92.39%|
|WP Editor Widget||2.8||0.64%||83.62%|
|Admin Post Navigation||2.4||0.55%||84.79%|
|Add Search To Menu||2.2||0.51%||85.29%|
|Asset Queue Manager||0.00%||85.80%||offline 2ms|
|WEN Responsive Columns||0.00%||85.80%||delete redundant 1.9ms|
|Add Widget After Content||1.8||0.41%||86.21%|
|Beacon Plugin||0.00%||86.21%||Offline 1.5ms|
|HW Image Widget||1.3||0.30%||86.83%|
|Plugin Logic Rules||1.2||0.28%||87.11%|
|Easy Table||1.2||0.28%||87.39%||pages not posts|
|Perfect Pullquotes||1.1||0.25%||87.64%||pages not posts|
|Pro Related Post Widget||1.1||0.25%||87.89%||Home & 2 pages|
|Shortcode For Current Date||1.1||0.25%||88.14%||Home & 2 pages|
|WP jQuery Plus||0.00%||88.14%||Deleted redundant 1.1ms|
|Change Table Prefix||1.0||0.23%||88.37%|
|Email Address Encoder||1.0||0.23%||88.60%|
|Host Analytics js Local||1.0||0.23%||88.83%|
|Deactivate XML-RPC Service||0.9||0.21%||89.04%|
|Lazy Load XT||0.9||0.21%||89.25%||Video & conflict pages|
|Tuxedo Big File Uploads||0.8||0.18%||89.43%|
|Query Strings Remover||0.00%||89.43%||Deleted redundant 0.8ms|
|Remove Google Fonts References||0.8||0.18%||89.61%|
|Far Future Expiry Header||0.00%||89.61%||Deleted redundant 0.6ms|
|Hide Featured Image||0.6||0.14%||89.75%|
|Simple WP Sitemap||0.5||0.11%||89.87%|
|WP Author Date and Meta Remover||0.5||0.11%||89.98%|
|Current Year & Copyright Shortcodes||0.4||0.09%||90.07%|
|Restore Image Title||0.4||0.09%||90.26%||Home & 1 page|
|Enable Media Replace||0.3||0.07%||90.33%|
|One-Click Child Theme||0.3||0.07%||90.40%||on two pages (2017 theme)|
|WENS Responsive Column Shortcodes||0.3||0.07%||90.46%||where used|
|Restore Image Title||0.2||0.05%||90.51%|
|Simple back to top||0.1||0.02%||90.58%||two conflict pages|
|active plugin count||53|
Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!