As a skydiver and paraglider pilot, I love speed. I also know about the impact one single second can have for your life. So I guess it is only natural that I try to achieve a top score on speed test tools for my web pages.
In this article, I will give a short overview about the plugins that are being used on my web pages. One of the reasons I am opening up my books is because, like some other people in the past, Romeo Patrick asked me to get some insights. He left a comment in the WordPress Speed Up Group on Facebook, saying: «Talk to us. What things do you have to make it this fast?»
Speed might be king, but content is queen!
Personally, and from what I learn from insiders, I do not think that you will get into trouble with Google for the next two years or so if your web page loads around 2 seconds. I think one should rather worry about the impact voice search will have on web pages in the years to come.
But what’s even more important: Although speeding up your wordpress site and go for a top score on speed test tools might become quite an addictive hobby for you (it never ends), your focus always, always, should be on producing great content. Your reader or user does not care as much about speed as everybody tries to tell you. If you offer your audience outstanding content, who the heck cares about milliseconds, right?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fastest one of all?
Ok, that’s the result from Stockholm, Sweden. Now let’s check out what London, UK, says about speed / performance of filmpuls.info:
Think twice: Hosting and theme
Most of my pages are hosted on Hostpoint (nomen est omen). Hostpoint might not be the cheapest and their server might be not the fastest you can find on the planet when it comes to responsiveness, but on the one hand, they offer you a great support. It takes about 15 seconds when you call their toll free number and you will have somebody answering your questions, even if you ask something you actually should have known yourself but did not think about.
On the other hand, Hostpoint is my choice because their servers are located in Switzerland and this, being a lawyer myself, gives me peace of mind because I know that all the data are in a secure and controlled place.
I must admit, it took me a terribly long time to find wordpress themes that were coded close to perfect and at the same time matched the majority of my goals. But the effort is always worth it.
After having tested an awful lot of other wordpress themes the last few years, MH Themes was recommended to me by a friend of mine some time ago. MH themes makes me happy. And no, I am not paid to say this, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links.
Tools and Plugins to get a top score on speed test tools
It is common knowledge that one should use as few plugins as possible in order to achieve a top score on speed test tools. Here are my favorite wordpress plugins that are running on all my pages as I write this (in alphabetical order, speed related plugins only)
- Cache Enabler
- CDN Enabler
- Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS)
Now let’s have a look at the settings I have chosen to achieve a top score on most speed test tools (and please be aware, there is no one-fits-to-all when it comes to wordpress optimization):
Note the box to activate Autoptimize plugin support. This means: you do not worry about compatibility issues if you work with this plugin.
Note: Render blocking CSS can give you a headache. One of the easiest way to deal with critical CSS is the free Critical Path CSS Generator from Sitelocity. I have implemented both the suggestions this page makes: (#1) put critical css above the line (using Autoptimize) and (#2) loading all other CSS a single file in the footer using their JS code.
3. Cache Enabler
The Cache Enabler plugin creates static HTML files and stores them on the servers disk. The web server will deliver the static HTML file and avoids the resource intensive backend processes (core, plugins and database).
This plugin works perfectly with Autoptimize, as well as with the CDN Enabler and Optimus. Why this? Cache Enabler, CDN Enabler and Optimus are all being take care of by KeyCDN, the company that is behind the content delivery network with the same name.
Speed up things is their core business and this goal is being reflected also in the quality of their plugins, it seems. So there is no need for you to worry about a lot of things you should being worried about otherwise, like caching the cache or other duplicate functions that slow down your site.
4. CDN Enabler
The CDN Enabler plugin helps you to quickly and easily integrate a CDN in WordPress. The plugin works perfectly with the fast and lightweight WordPress Cache Enabler plugin.
In order to profit from KeyCDN, you will need to invest a few bucks. If you run a small page with a decent traffic volume and if you do not offer heavy content to download (like games, software, etc.), the costs will not kill you and are worth every penny.
5. Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS)
Gonzales is not for free, but the best there is for this purpose. However, there are alternative plugins that can do more or less the same. I learned in the past that premium plugins very often are a better choice because they are maintained with love and passion and are more carefully coded than free plugins.
Optimus reduces the file size of uploaded media files automatically. Depending on the image and format, reductions in size of up to 70% are possible.
Optimus from KeyCDN gives you a choice: there is a free version and a premium plugin. If you want to benefit from WebP images and get a top score on speed test tools, you should consider upgrading to premium.
Well, I do use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). I have chosen KeyCDN. If you check out the options they are offering, you will quickly realize that you can get rid of 95 % (in my case: 100 %) of the stuff that some people tell you to put in your .htaccess. I learned not to underestimate a clean and proper .htaccess when it comes to speed. And so should you.
As you might have realized, fonts on the websites are being loaded not from google but from my server – this saves some more requests and like in real life, small things sometimes add up to a big impact.
If you are able to read and understand German: https://fastwp.de/ offers you some very stimulating input about wordpress speed. Check it out.
Famous last words
Whatever you do in order to speed up your web page, do never forget your content. It’s the content that makes your page fly.
Once your page is up and running, you should spend about 80 % of your time to take care of the content (and all the other stuff, like SEO and onpage and offpage optimization) and only 10 % to make your page even faster again. Use the remaining 10 % of your time to be constantly aware that common sense is not very common and what chances this offers for you and your website!
Every skydiver has to learn one very important lesson: What is the goal of skydiving? The right answer is not to have fun or enjoy free falling or land safely. The goal of skydiving is to survive it! So what is the goal of a webpage? Not speed, but to offer outstanding content for your readers. With no audience, even the fastest website is senseless.