Updated: December 2019
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The point of diminishing speed returns is when you damage profitability. Then you’re into the realm of fanaticism. We’ve been there for a long time. That’s an unquenchable desire for excellence. It can be a monster. So let’s keep speed changes in perspective. In other words, do as we say – and not as we do.
For us, speed gets designed in. Speed repair is a frustrating, after-the-fact rescue. Sometimes, the patient loses an arm or another appendage. Cutting out cancer. Most site owners don’t want to suffer the painful amputation – and still, want to live forever. Nope. That isn’t how it works.
Anyway, what is reasonable for speed. For example:
Moving video files to another host like AWS. Will that save the day? That is unknown. Using an image placeholder and not loading the video until clicked is enough. That means using “video lazy load” plugins. That trick won’t work for header videos like some use.
Also, lazyload plugins don’t work with Elementor. Bad voodoo on Elementors part. It forces you to use their built-in video lazy load functions. But they won’t work for headers either. Trapped.
Let’s review some web speed realities:
1As far as we’re concerned, delayed loads produce the same user experience as offloading. Here we are talking about “perceived” load time versus “actual” load time. We build for human UX and not machine SEO. The fact your header video loads last is good enough for Google. Is it good enough for your human audience? Most likely. Has any user complained? Is the cost of offloading video justifiable? That is a business call. ROI. How much is video slowness affecting profits? A-B tests? If it’s so bad, why use video instead of still images?
2Font Awesome is a curse and laziness for developers who don’t want to produce image files. Those icons are faddish and will look dated. Clipart for websites. So we ask, “What enqueues (turns on) Font Awesome?” Themes like Tiny Hestia, GeneratePress, and Twenty-nineteen don’t load Font Awesome. Why? Because speed is an issue. Older and crummy designed themes use FA. If it’s not the theme, is it a plugin? Plugins can be selectively deactivated or stripped.
So if we install Asset Queue Manager (AQM), we then see the hidden scripts and styles used on a page. We can also site-wide dequeue them. This can be delicate surgery. But we use it all the time.
Below is a screengrab of the AQM plugin control panel. Circled in red are those things associated with Font Awesome.
The kicker is:
Does deactivating Font Awesome break critical icons? Those are the mobile navigational menu (hamburger) and the search looking-glass icon.
Only testing reveals that. But looking at Elementor code, it says it’s loading the lightweight Elementor Icon (eicon) set instead. (When disabling Gutenberg block editor, deactivate the block-library style circled in green.)
The truth is you can dequeue a ton of Elementor styles and scripts. But it requires trial and error to figure that out. Tedious. Now if you like, you can dequeue with the paid PerfMatters plugin. But we don’t use that because we only investigate free plugin alternatives. Sorry. Snobbery. We know.
Would we change the theme of a site and swap all the FA icons? Yes. We recently replaced 40 icons sprinkled throughout a client’s site. With what? PNG files. Why? Speed. Pure speed. One-color PNG icons only weigh 1k. Font Awesome loads 70 to 80k on every stinkin’ page.
There are even more serious ways to remove FA by editing the functions.php core file. We won’t go there anymore. We’ve nuked sites doing that. But if you pay someone enough, they’ll do almost anything. Not us. We can be taught.
3Hosting Google Analytics locally may gain you anywhere from 100 to 300 milliseconds. Nice but fanatic. Do we do it? Of course.