How Do You Keep a Website Performing Optimally?

    Keeping a website at peak performance is an ongoing process that involves a lot of tinkering…something akin to a mad scientist in his lab pushing buttons and running tests in pursuit of that perfect result. No matter how well a site performs when it goes live it will always degrade over time.  Good hardware, lightly loaded servers, and caching certainly help but if you really want to keep your site running at its peak you have to dedicate time to it on a regular basis – preferably once every few months or after major upgrades.

    What causes a website to degrade over time?

    • Plugins get updated with extra features and extra bloat.
    • Temporary plugins get added and forgotten.
    • Themes get updated and sometimes are switched.
    • CSS Style-sheets and JavaScript files change and grow.
    • Products and Posts and Images keep expanding the size of the database.
    • Web standards evolve and so do the tools that monitor them.

    GTmetrix:
    I recently spent the weekend working on one of my favorite Double Fox Websites: Martin’s Magic.  Not long ago this was one of the fastest sites created by Double Fox but over the years it has degraded into a slower site.  Thanks to the useful comparison features of GTmetrix you can see the fruits of my labor.  GTmetrix measures page speed and other important speed-related metrics.

    Website Optimizations for Martin's Magic

    Website Optimizations for Martin’s Magic

     

    WPMU DEV:
    And we now have a much healthier wpmudev scan too which provides a measure of your website SEO and security.

    WPMUDev Scan for Martin's Magic

    WPMUDev Scan for Martin’s Magic

    Web Page Test:
    Frustratingly we no longer have our straight A’s at WebPageTest which highlights one of the real issues with website optimization: you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  The secret is knowing when enough is enough, otherwise you can spend the rest of your life chasing after one metric or another and never be satisfied.

    Web Page Test for Martin's Magic

    Web Page Test for Martin’s Magic

    Key Improvements for Website Performance:

    Let’s focus on the GTmetrix report – the key improvements are:

    • Number of requests fell from 137 to 47!
    • Page size decreased from 1.99 MB to 517 KB.
    • Load time was reduced from 2.7s to 1.9s
    • PageSpeed Grade improved from an E (51%) to an A (97%)
    • YSlow Grade improved from a D (69%) to a B (82%)

    How was it possible to have such a dramatic change?  Sadly there is not one single thing you can do and it is a process of trial and error – sometimes you can even break the site by turning off a needed plugin.  But these are the basic approaches I took for Martin’s Magic:

    • Removed unnecessary plugins.  I removed 16 plugins: from 51 plugins to 35.  The final number of 35 is still rather high but it will work for now.
    • Fixed two bad plugins that were needlessly including .js and .css files on every page.
    • Turned on more aggressive caching, minification and lazy loading

    Could we do the same for you?  I’m sure we could, just contact your favorite fox and we’ll see what we can do!

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