Dump Divi theme: Get Astra’s screamin’ speed.

WordPress Mobile Speed

Updated


There are no affiliate links on PagePipe.

Tons of articles rave comparing the merits and disadvantages of the Astra and Divi theme. They’re often biased by affiliate links (aka kickbacks) from one or both theme companies. They make money from the controversy.

We not here to debate which theme is better.

There is no debate for speed. We already know from our experience doing performance tuning on actual client sites.

Not a theory. Real-world experience.

We’ll show you how to fix the Divi speed problem for good.

Divi speed sucks.

Get rid of it!

Astra’s theme is super lightweight. If you can control your excitement to embellish with cool theme features.

Divi is the worst theme for speed. Often slowing a site by 1 second. That is half the 2-second performance budget. Yet they claim to be the most popular theme in the world with 2-million installations. They’re not free. They are pricey.

We always recommend removing Divi.

A few years ago I made a website with Divi, I was sucked in by the marketing and ease of use. I wanted to move away from the Divi theme because of mobile-speed issues – but knew that I couldn’t handle this myself due to the monster shortcode that is left behind when switching from Divi.

Luckily, I found Pagepipe.com and Steve and he agreed to lead the way on a Divi removal strategy. Picking Astra as the new theme, Steve removed all traces of Divi, sped up the site from about 2.7 seconds to under 1 second, and left me feeling like there were still some very good people in the world. I also no longer have to pay $89 annually for Divi – nor do I have to pay for expensive plugins. Thanks Steve, it is very much appreciated. —Greg Artim, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania USA

Can Divi ever be fast?

But not PagePipe, it’s built with Twenty seventeen default theme.

Why Twenty seventeen? Isn’t that theme old and stale now? Our explanation is here:

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/how-we-cheated-the-speed-tests-using-twenty-seventeen-theme/

We’ve seen one instance. But the web pages were bare-bones. In other words, Divi features were hardly used. That explains that.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/divi-theme-sucks-and-other-popular-paid-themes-are-slow-too/

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/rebuilding-your-site-for-mobile-speed/

With Astra, we’ve built our own and client sites.

We know how fast free-Astra loads: under 50 milliseconds.

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/extreme-astra-maximum-mobile-benefits-from-free-theme-features/

REFERENCE: http://pagepipe.com/should-i-use-generatepress-or-astra-theme-with-elementor-for-mobile-speed/

Here’s the biggest problem. When website owners get their hands on Divi they can’t stop adding heavy features. The same applies to Astra Pro.

We recommend Astra-vanilla (free) for speed (1-million active installations). No kickback from affiliate links. The real deal. Astra’s limitations keep uncontrollable web designers in check. They aren’t seduced into loading up pages with junk.

https://wordpress.org/themes/astra/

So why not switch to Astra and be faster immediately?

If only switching were that easy. Getting off Divi is like extracting intestinal parasites.

Large groups of egg-laying worms overwhelm the immune system. The worms kick-start a self-perpetuating cycle guaranteeing their survival.

That is Divi. Abdominal pain. Diarrhea.

I simply cannot stand  [Divi’s] pseudo eye candy bulky menus and “oh so funny” module names (WTF is a blurb module)? And even more so I cannot understand its success. It should simply not exist as it is a junky piece of software that i hope will vanish (just as all the other page builders) when WordPress incorporated its own system: Gutenberg. Still looking forward to the future. – Source

Why do we have such a low opinion of Divi?

Why rant about a bad theme choice?

What’s the big deal?

We’re often hired to solve speed-tuning. If Divi is the theme, fear-filled site owners imagine they can’t live without Divi. They worry. What happens when they remove Divi? Do their pages and post become nonsensical gobbledygook? They’re afraid the embedded images and other normality might vanish. Why that concern?

You know what?

Those horrible code nightmares are true.

Go ahead. Disconnect Divi.

It’s a total mess.

Example of client-side shortcode page residue after removing Divi theme. Ugly! There are 9 homepage sections of garbage shortcodes like this one.

Divi doesn’t use standard WordPress theme conventions. It isn’t compatible or swappable with any other standard theme. It’s built with hundreds of shortcodes. Whose lame idea was that?

So poor, addicted, stunted sites never stop paying for their Divi fix. Divi is like a complicated operating system built on top of WordPress. The Divi shell isolates the site owners from ever acquiring real skills. The value and ease of WordPress design is never realized. They can’t place a simple image on a normal page without a Divi crutch.

Handicapped by Divi.

We found a site owner with the courage and gumption to divest from Divi addiction. We jumped at the opportunity to document the journey to theme-freedom. We had something to prove.

The site was fast because he barely used Divi features. So why remove it? To prove a point. And to future-proof the site.

We wanted to show how even a dang-fast Divi site could be faster and lighter switching to Astra.

More shortcode residue from Divi.

Was it easy?

Well, it wasn’t as bad as we anticipated from what others told us.

We found a plugin. A golden plugin.

A plugin built to hide unused shortcodes – and the junk between them. And if we paid $22, we could have a pro version to remove the shortcodes for good.

We were – stunned. It couldn’t be that simple. But it was. One button? All the shortcodes removed?

Every shortcode removal solution we’d seen online required so much monkeying around. Convoluted cringe-worthy suffering. Our delight to discover a shortcut remover made us hesitate. Was the plugin claim authentic?

The free version of this magic plugin is:

Shortcode Cleaner Lite

2,000 active installs
zip file size: 370k

Keep this plugin installed to hide the Divi shortcodes. Then the ugly shortcodes don’t appear on the front end anymore. Gone from sight! But if you remove the Shortcode Cleaner plugin, they’re all back. Could be worse.

If you pony up the cash for the pro version, you eliminate the shortcodes. Yes. From both the frontend and backend. If you remove the plugin, they’re still gone – forever. Beautiful tool.

First, we tested the free version. It doesn’t add weight or drag to pages. Good-enough results for most people satisfied with a “hiding” result. But we were on a mission to nuke Divi for good.

We got out our wallet.

We bought the pro version. And in a few minutes all the shortcodes we hated vanished from our client’s polluted website. Amazing.

We were free to switch to Astra free theme. Painless.

It also got rid of all other shortcode residue left on the site from dinosaur plugins long ago removed.

Was our speed mission complete?

No. We next substituted heavy popular plugins with much lighter plugins.

Plugins OLD 87MBsize k
Divi theme36800
wpforms-lite14900
wordpress-seo12500
wp-optimize7400
wp-smushit5400
wp-super-cache3000
really-simple-captcha2200
google-sitemap-generator2000
custom-permalinks1200
really-simple-ssl922
wp-performance-score-booster254
flexi-pages-widget240
import-html-pages141
wordpress-importer90
classic-editor65
png-to-jpg40
html-sitemap37
elegant-themes-updater29
display-php-version14
child-page-navigation4.5
total87236.5

Plugins NEW 20MBsize k
Astra theme5800
redirection5100
simple-content-adder3400
updraftplus2630
rvg-optimize-database642
simple-css450
limit-login-attempts-reloaded414
simple-basic-contact-form408
similar-posts298
lightweight-social-icons229
host-analyticsjs-local227
imsanity181
home-page-banner-for-astra-theme163
block-bad-queries121
amr-shortcode-any-widget71
admin-post-navigation65
classic-editor65
email-address-encoder44
datetime-now-button38
disable-comments-rb37
html-sitemap37
post-type-switcher36
easy-publisher32
disable-emojis20
longcache19
disable-embeds12
all-404-pages-redirect-to-homepage7
total20546

The difference? A reduction in weight from about 90 megabytes of plugins and theme – to only 20 megabytes.

We’re using 7 more plugin now than before. Do you think the site ran faster?

You know it did. Load time dropped in half.

The homepage went from 2.71 seconds to 1 second. Other pages were now loading in under a half-second. Stunning speed improvement. 500-millisecond load times – without CDN and without caching plugins. No site-breaking minification plugins either.

Are we done? No. We’re moving off erratic SiteGround servers to Rochen. Where will goodness end for speed?

This site is now in the top 1-percent of fastest sites on the web.
Did it cost more?

No. It cost less! Much less. No more annual renewal “rent” for the Divi theme. And lower-priced shared hosting.

Fixing painful server fluctuations.

What did we do about garbage hosting for this case study?

The client had two domains on SiteGround. On separate accounts. Oops! He unknowingly bought an account for each domain. It happens. Of course, he only needed one. But they neglected telling him that tidbit. His renewal fee was due in two weeks: $600.

Erratic TTFB on SiteGround hosting over a one-month period. Worst-case: 6-second page load time. Hey? Don’t they brag about speed? Maybe they don’t know the truth yet.

We looked at the drifting and erratic TTFB (time to first byte – server overhead) on SiteGround hosting. Average load time was 2.83 seconds. With our head in the oven and feet in the freezer – on “average” – do we feel fine?

Not really.

Average doesn’t show the speed peaks and troughs.

The chart rolls up-and-down like waves on a rough ocean. Load times saw-toothed up and down rhythmically from 2 seconds to 6 seconds. Is that wildness bad?

It’s horrible.

Goodness is a TTFB below 500 milliseconds.

The final speed scores

Pingdomssmssms
to Washington DCSGtuningTTFBRochenTTFB
/2.171.037460.437270
/used-cars/1.671.346030.467310
/garnishment/0.871.257070.325193
/midland/1.631.296280.351202
/junk-debt-buyers/1.440.786950.307190
/magnuson_moss/1.191.292940.321198
/bank-account-garnishment/1.091.245240.505336
/hayt_hayt_landau/1.480.856280.482317
/apothaker/1.571.216080.421289
/statute_of_limitations/1.520.8920100.298198

SiteGround

BEFORE
SSL and server caching activated
original load time
Divi Theme
1.46 seconds average

Note: This is the fastest Divi installation we’ve ever seen.

AFTER
After speed tuning on staging
w/o Google Analytic drag
Astra Theme
1.12 seconds average

NEW HOSTING

Rochen

after migration
Astra theme
Google Analytics installed
LiteSpeed activated
391 milliseconds average

Holy cow! That’s super fast.

Cost before:

  1.  Divi renewal fees. $89 per year
  2. SiteGround renewal $600.

No more repetitive annual renewal fees.


Cost after:

Rochen Growth level fees:
$119.40 for the first year.
(Renews at $18.95/month)

5 Websites
20GB SSD Storage
Unmetered Data Transfer

Note: The client chose paying for Astra Pro:
$47 annual rent.

So when you change load time on a desktop from 2.7 seconds to under 1 second, do mobile users notice? Does anyone really care?

No one notices fast pages. They’re transparent.

But a slow page?

Users hate slow pages.

Remote mobile often load 3 to 4 times slower than desktop pages. Think about it. In our case-study example, 70 percent or more of traffic is on mobile devices. Instant mobile user experience benefits.


ADDENDUM

So let me check. To change my site over to a new theme away from Divi.  Here’s what you’ve told me to do in this article:

1 – Download a new theme.
2 – Purchase and install Shortcode Cleaner lite plugin.
3 – Run Shortcode Cleaner lite.
4 – Switch to new theme.

Is that it?

No.

If life were only that simple.

1. If you have poor server quality with a slow TTFB, for example a 2-second TTFB, you’ll never get under a 2-second load time from switching themes. Duh!

2. You can’t delete or upload a new theme until you remove Divi and it’s accompanying plugins completely. So remove those Elegant Themes plugins.

3. If you bought the Shortcode Cleaner plugin.  Installing the pro version may be too big. You’ll  get this error:

The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini.

If so, you need to install this plugin:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/upload-larger-plugins/

Yes. That’s right a plugin to upload big plugins!

4. But you may then see this error code:

The package could not be installed. No valid plugins were found.

Plugin installation failed.

5. Double check. Be sure you removed Divi and all the theme’s associated plugins. There may be several. Divi doesn’t work in “The WordPress Way.” They aren’t distributed through the theme directory. They don’t comply with WordPress theme rules of interchangeability. In fact, they deliberately block you from uploading other themes. They change how the Customizer works and other controls. Bad form. The don’t play fair.

Godspeed-

Steve Teare
performance engineer

 

Other unconventional speed articles like this one:

Instead of band-aid approaches, we drill down to the root cause of your slow site. This is origin optimization. Also known as site tuning. To do this, we analyze site components:

  • Hosting
  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Scripts and third-party services.
  • Images and media library.
  • We minimize globally loading plugin effects.

Find out more details about Site TuningGet Speed!


 

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