Assessing speed overhead with P3 Plugin Performance Profiler.

WordPress Mobile Speed

Updated


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WordPress works fine. But you need plugins to add extra features and functionality. Without plugins, WordPress is not worth as much. Plugins give you control over website functions and performance without writing any code. Choosing the right plugins plays a big role in your mobile speed success.

It seems as simple as searching for the most popular plugins. Then installing and activating them on your website. The result: an instant functionality upgrade without needing technical knowledge.

The problem is most popular plugins are slow loading. They bog down your site. Often globally, meaning slowing every single page and post. We call that site drag. Other plugins are more forgiving. They don’t suffer from site drag. Instead, they load only where used – or where there’s a shortcode installed. How can you know if a plugin causes site drag? Experimentation. This undocumented gotcha isn’t in read.me files.

The plugin directory is one of WordPress’s great assets. It provides over 58,000 applications extending WordPress. It’s also completely open and free. Any author can contribute. Anyone can download it. The plugin auditing process and security analysis are sometimes flaky. Bad plugins happen.

Many plugins have identical functions – but they’re not built the same. Some hog resources. Others are fine quality. You can solve any WordPress problem with a plugin – or a plugin combination. We do research and experimentation to discover plugins helping mobile WordPress speed. We appreciate alternatives to bloated popular plugins.

WordPress.org used to place a label on plugins not updated in over 2 years. Now instead they show how many missed update versions. This staleness warning may mean the plugin won’t work – or worst case – could break your site. Often, we find old plugins work great. Especially for speed. Even when they aren’t updated for years.

This plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.

This shelf-life warning, above, scares people from unrealized opportunities. So we still test obsolete plugins. There are many compatible-and-clean 8- or 10-year-old plugins. There are always risks with even the biggest and best – and most popular. These unpredictable gambles include plugins with millions of active installs and recent updates. Even WordPress or Yoast or Elementor stubs its toe. It happens to the peerless.

The Plugin Review team takes down a plugin if it becomes vulnerable. But they don’t always notify users when this happens – or tell us to remove a bad plugin. We know this from our sad experience.

A plugin we use often is P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). As implied, this plugin creates a profile of the speed performance of your plugins. It was published by GoDaddy, one of the biggest hosting providers in the world. But they abandoned the plugin for years. In 2020 it was reworked to function again with PHP 7.x. It measures load-time impact expressed in seconds for every plugin you have activated. It helps narrow down plugins causing potential speed issues. P3 now works with newer PHP version 7+. Hurray!

★★★★★
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

Description: See which plugins are slowing down your site. This plugin creates a performance report for your site.

At this point, we smile. Over 90,000 sites made a bad assumption. They left this plugin active in the name of speed improvement. Ironically, the plugin slows every page and post by 22.7 milliseconds – even when sitting there.

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) causes 22.7 milliseconds of site drag. So we recalculate the results without this number messing things up. After testing, don’t leave it installed. At least, disable it. But we usually remove it. Don’t leave the lights on.

There are attempts to prove P3 plugin numerical results are meaningless. Surprise! We agree. What’s important are the relative results. Not the absolute numbers generated. It’s ranking the worst-offending plugin to the least – with time values in seconds. Data is strangely presented in alphabetical order, not in milliseconds. We sort in a spreadsheet. But there’s intuitive data to analyze and we appreciate it. Some say the results are ±30 percent off. Not from our experience. There’s no way to prove accuracy. We don’t care. Our gut says the ranking is correct enough. What we care about most is identifying the worst offender plugins. The hogs and fatties.

NOTE: We are still testing but WP Rocket may conflict with this newer version of P3 plugin and white screen your site. Caution is needed. Just deactivate WP Rocket before running the test.

There are articles about purported P3 alternatives and lookalikes. We’ve examined them. None give the speed ranking information we desire. It’s needed for speed assessments. P3 shows information not represented in any known speed report we’ve found. We’ve found workarounds for its shortcomings by digging out the data and reformatting.

Let’s look at PagePipe.com which loads in under 1 second.  We use the Twenty-seventeen default theme. Theme load time is around 20 milliseconds. We selected this bare-bones theme because its package size was small and light. We’re way beyond the year 2017 now. But this is still a fast theme when stripped using our KrunchKore recommendations.

We have 53 free WordPress plugins. What?!

That’s right. 53 are active. 20 are inactive. P3 says they all load in 593 milliseconds. Good enough. We suspect they load faster than that. But as we’ve said; it’s plugin rank that’s important for sorting.

The inactive plugins include:

  • Bulk Plugin Copier
  • Bulk Post Update Date
  • Easy Debug Info
  • Enable Media Replace
  • Export Media Library
  • Find Posts Using Attachment
  • Laps
  • Link Finder (which we run quarterly)
  • Link Whisper Free
  • Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions (we activate and run once monthly for cleaning).
  • P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
  • Plugins List
  • Query Monitor
  • Regenerate Thumbnails
  • Search Exclude
  • Shortcode Lister
  • Title like Alt
  • Tuxedo Big File Uploads
  • Unused Shortcodes
  • Widget Shortcode
  • Word Stats

Most of our inactive plugins are resource intensive – or only used for maintenance and troubleshooting. That means they hog database and RAM on the host server. If they all were running at once, most ungenerous hosting providers would – with total lack of courtesy – shutdown our site. Our resource overages affect our other 23 shared-host neighbor’s speed. Can’t upset the server neighbors!

Pareto principle is still alive! Using SpeedXray and P3 plugin we find 8 of our heaviest plugins contribute to 80 percent of the cumulative weight. Roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In this case, 80 percent of the slowness comes from 20 percent of our “heaviest” plugin choices. These slower plugins needing the most scrutiny.

Here are the P3 ranking results:

Name milliseconds percent cumulative
Similar Posts 182.30 30.74% 30.74%
Advanced Ads 93.70 15.80% 46.54%
Simple Content Adder 78.20 13.18% 59.72%
LiteSpeed Cache 50.10 8.45% 68.17%
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore 24.60 4.15% 72.31%
Redirection 22.80 3.84% 76.16%
Lazy Load Optimize Images 14.20 2.39% 78.55%
Lazy Load For Videos 9.10 1.53% 80.09%
WP Post Hide 8.50 1.43% 81.52%
Import External Images 7.90 1.33% 82.85%
Plugin Toggle 7.90 1.33% 84.18%
Si Widont 1.0 7.50 1.26% 85.45%
Really Simple Ssl 7.40 1.25% 86.70%
Limit Login Attempts Reloaded 7.30 1.23% 87.93%
Simple Drop Cap 7.10 1.20% 89.12%
Better Search Replace 4.80 0.81% 89.93%
Hide Dashboard Notifications 4.70 0.79% 90.73%
amr shortcode any widget 4.20 0.71% 91.43%
Quotes 4.10 0.69% 92.13%
Imsanity 3.80 0.64% 92.77%
Email Address Encoder 3.30 0.56% 93.32%
Disable Comments 3.00 0.51% 93.83%
Simple Pull Quote 2.70 0.46% 94.28%
Blog Manager Light 2.40 0.40% 94.69%
Easy Publisher 2.10 0.35% 95.04%
Category Sticky Post 2.00 0.34% 95.38%
Speedswitch Rules 1.90 0.32% 95.70%
Instant-jQ 1.90 0.32% 96.02%
Change Table Prefix 1.80 0.30% 96.32%
Asset Queue Manager 1.70 0.29% 96.61%
De Updraftplus Backup Exclude Image Thumbnails 1.70 0.29% 96.90%
Fake Whos Online Widget 1.50 0.25% 97.15%
More Plugin Info 1.50 0.25% 97.40%
All 404 Pages Redirect to Homepage 1.40 0.24% 97.64%
BBQ Firewall 1.40 0.24% 97.88%
Watu Quiz 1.30 0.22% 98.09%
Super Simple Google Analytics 1.20 0.20% 98.30%
Hierarchical Html Sitemap 1.10 0.19% 98.48%
ToTop Link 1.10 0.19% 98.67%
Far Future Expiry Header 0.90 0.15% 98.82%
Classic Editor 0.70 0.12% 98.94%
My Favicon 0.70 0.12% 99.06%
Display PHP Version 0.60 0.10% 99.16%
Restore Image Title 0.60 0.10% 99.26%
Simple CSS 0.60 0.10% 99.36%
Admin Post Navigation 0.50 0.08% 99.44%
Date/Time Now Button 0.50 0.08% 99.53%
Disable Embeds 0.50 0.08% 99.61%
Disable Emojis (GDPR friendly) 0.50 0.08% 99.70%
Current Year and Copyright Shortcodes 0.50 0.08% 99.78%
WP Author Date and Meta Remover 0.50 0.08% 99.87%
WP Image Borders 0.40 0.07% 99.93%
Easy Table 0.20 0.03% 99.97%
SpeedSwitch 0.20 0.03% 100.00%
Total 593.10
This is a great example how crazy scores fail to show real speed improvement. It’s milliseconds that count!

PagePipe.com Pingdom results:
714 milliseconds. 22 requests. 910k page weight.

  • Cheap shared hosting: GreenGeeks.
  • No paid or free CDN.
  • PHP version:  7.4.
  • No paid plugins or themes. You can do it, too!

PS: Think we’re cheating with homepage numbers. OK. Maybe. How about this very article’s load time – curious? Here are the speed numbers: Performance grade: B 85 (what???), Load time: 612 milliseconds, Page size: 406.9k, Requests: 29, Tested from San Francisco USA by Pingdom.

We decided to run a test on WebPagetest.org. This produces a homepage worst-case scenario (1.179 seconds). Pingdom being best-case results.

It’s not the number of plugins – it’s the quality.

Thanks for tolerating our shameless and pretentious display of affordable, mobile speed.

Is this homepage beautiful?

Well? Not beautiful perhaps. But it’s fast. It focuses on usability first. Site goals are the foundation for decision-making. Improve branding and expressive aesthetics can happen later. Those costs money – and always slow down the page. The page needs to prove itself with results first. Then formalize the graphics. Or maybe leave it “as-is.”

Most heavy plugins can be substituted with faster ones – or eliminated. Plugins that cause global site drag can be selectively deactivated.

Godspeed-

Steve Teare
performance engineer
May 2021

 

PagePipe Site Tuning Services for Speed

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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