Susty speed theme: case study of lightweight branding.

Updated: July 2018
No bloat

Susty is fast and lightweight. We’ve proven it loads in under 1 second even with web graphics. But can you create an attractive site with Susty? Can it look better than classic Spartan aesthetic? Many stripped-down themes are mere text and CSS font styling. Pretty boring.

Stripped themes – like Susty – prevent excessive bloat. Why? It’s a “human temptation” problem – not a design problem. Site creators can’t discipline themselves to say “no” to unused features. They fill every slot and pocket provided. Self-imposed limitations using a bare-bones theme removes overload or gold-plate seduction.

You can’t overburden widgets that aren’t there! The unadvertised value of lightweight themes like Susty is:

Instant self-control.

We’re using Susty theme at http://toxictoastseo.com/ (Review of the actual speed results are here.)

AESTHETICS AND SUSTY FOR SPEED

First we checked what customization was possible. Not much. We could add:

  • Background color globally
  • Global background image
  • Swap out the default logo
  • Site Title and Tagline
  • Main Menu
  • Homepage setting and Posts page

Susty has no widget areas in sidebars or footers – or anywhere!

First: We set the background color to #ffffff (white) instead of the default #fffefc.

Let’s look at the graphics used:

Global background image with grayscale gradient to match white background color. 52k, 1500-pixel-wide JPEG. Optimized to 70Q. Progressive setting for mobile users.

This hero background image presented a problem on the funky Menu page. We wrote the theme author, Jack Lennox, and he suggested some custom CSS code. We added that with the Simple CSS plugin. Fixed!

We created three 8-bit PNG icons to sprinkle on pages for visual variety.

15.3k 8-bit PNG image.
10.5k 8-bit PNG image. Not used on Home page.
12.4k 8-bit PNG image. Not used on Home page.

And a call-to-action badge to sell books:

A tilted badge to serve as an image link. 8.7k, 8-bit PNG.

Next: A replacement logo for theme default.
(895 bytes PNG image, 43px sq.)

And a dinky little 318 byte favicon for browser tab branding.

 

And one more for visitor cuing device: a borrowed Yoast logo 5.7k PNG image.

Total image weight on Home page: 82.9k

Load time Susty theme with graphics: 1.25 seconds to Stockholm from shared Arizona server. No CDN. No server cache.

26 FREE PLUGINS WE USED

Add Search To Menu
Displays search form in the navigation bar.

Antispam Bee
Toolset for day to day comment and trackback spam-fighting.

BleuT FavIcon
Customize site favicon by uploading an image file.

Block Bad Queries (BBQ)
Firewall to protect WordPress against malicious URL requests.

Change Table Prefix
Change your database prefix after installation to thwart hackers.

Deactivate XML-RPC Service
Deactivates the XMP-RPC API service. A security device.

Disable Embeds
Removes the enhanced embeds (oEmbed) added in WordPress 4.4.

Disable Emojis
Disable dead-weight Emojis.

Email Address Encoder
Protect email addresses from email-harvesting robots by encoding them into decimal and hexadecimal entities.

Far Future Expiration
Add a “far future expiration” date for various file types to improve site performance.

Heartbeat Control
Controls the WordPress heartbeat.

Lazy Load by WP Rocket
Lazy load script for WordPress without jQuery or others libraries.

Lazy Load for Videos
Replacing embedded Youtube and Vimeo videos with a clickable preview image. Visitors click the image to play the video.

Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
Limit the rate of login attempts, including by way of cookies and for each IP address. Security against brute force attacks.

Plugin Logic
Activate plugins on pages only if they are really needed.

Query Strings Remover
Removes query strings from your static resources like CSS and JavaScript files. No configuration needed.

Shortcode For Current Date
Insert current Date, Month or Year anywhere with a simple shortcode.

Simple CSS
Bulletproof CSS using a CSS editor or the live Customizer.

Simple Drop Cap
Transform the first letter of a word into a drop cap or initial letter simply by wrapping the word with shortcode .

Simple WP Sitemap
Adds both an xml and an html sitemap, which updates and maintains themselves.

Title Remover
Hide the title of any post, page or custom post type item without affecting menus or titles in the admin area.

UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Backup and restore: take backups locally, or backup to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, (S)FTP, WebDAV & email, on automatic schedules.

WordPress Related Posts
Increase reader engagement with links in content footer.

WP Author, Date and Meta Remover
Remove post meta data. N o settings.

WP Counter
Counter of unique site visitor status in different date range (Today, Yesterday, Current Week, Current Month).

WP jQuery Plus
Loads jQuery from a CDN using the exact version as your current WordPress install.

7 PLUGINS WE DIDN’T USE

  • Cache Enabler
  • Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS)
  • Current Year and Copyright Shortcodes
  • Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
  • Redirection
  • Remove Google Fonts References
  • Simple Back To Top

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


... Facebook Mastermind Group just referenced your blog in talking about WP themes ... Best quote he said, "Here's an interesting site on WordPress speed: PagePipe.com. Warning: he's got some controversial ideas." Thought you’d like that! Lilypad Media LLC, North Carolina, USA

by - Kurt Perschke

Evergreen Content: Expired dates diminish site credibility.
How Live Chat affects mobile speed.