As a part of my section of Wirral business case studies I’d like to breakdown a recent task of trying to make a website respond to user requests faster.
Metrics & Useability
If your website is slow to load, takes an age to bring up a new page after being clicked then this will certainly have a negative affect upon the User Experience (UX). In short people will become fed up and perhaps go and explore a competitors website instead.
This not only makes your website look bad but it will also affect the “bounce rate”. To put it simply this is how often people click the back button vs exploring your site further. It also affects other “metrics” (these are the things that we measure when assessing how good something is), such as the dwell time and return visitors.
Built Upon WordPress
Like a huge number of websites my client site was built using the WordPress platform. If your own website is built upon WordPress then you probably know that it is scale-able in that it uses something called ‘plugins’. Plugins allow us to further enhance the features and abilities of your website, often for free.
Where To Start
The first place is to take a snapshot of the current state of a website.
I like to use a number of tools but always include:
This combination of tools will allow us to see a huge number of important metrics.
Before I dive further into using the plugins it is worth pointing out that no amount of tweaking will fully optimise your site if you choose a cheap low speed server to host your website upon.
The tools stated above will allow you to see the server response time of your website. If it is more than 2 seconds (ideally it should be below 1 second) then you should consider moving your website to a faster host. If you would like me to do this for you then please get in touch.
Another often overlooked tweak is the “optimize” option found in Cpanel (this is the control panel for your website). Not every website uses Cpanel but most do, some use Parallels or other control panels. Cpanel has optimize, this compresses all of your website data and can significantly speed your website up.
Choosing The Plugins
I have optimised hundreds of websites over the years and they all react differently to optimisation plugins.
I normally like to use the W3 Total Cache and manually tweak it until a website is fully minified and runs like the wind but on this occasion my client’s website did not respond very well to the built in browser compression element of the W3 plugin which is probably something to do with the theme being used
There are a number of other plugins I could choose from but I know what works well and I really like Ninja plugins. Enter the GZip, please click here to read the next page.