Performance tuning of WordPess sites is currently in the best of times and the worst times. Best of times because there is a consensus about 6 key performance tuning methods which should be applied as a set of triage steps while doing performance tuning. These six standard steps are featured in the upcoming WP Speed Matters meetup on Tuesay Nov 8th.
1 .Alignment – hardware, hosting and network resources matched to your changing needs and goals – making sure performance, security, SEO promotion tools and services are in sync with each other;
2.Cleaning – consistently updating, tuning, and pruning your site’s themes, plugins, media and database resources to latest editions and optimum size;
3.Compression – of media and basic coding snippets which makeup 65-75% of most webpage content;
4.Caching – create reusable copies of pages, objects, and code segments for fast access and rapid content delivery;Now Cloud Caches and CDN are key elements in performance tuning while also acting as Code Libraries;
5.Constant monitoring – use website speed measures with topdown triage tips to identify and correct performance problems as they arise.
6.APO-Automated Performance Optimizing – is the nextgeneration of performanc tuning. AI routines take constant monitoring to the next level. AI-based auto-tuning mixes together a variety of the above methods based on extensive tracking data and realtime analytics. These Ai tools then generate best optimizing strategies/methods to tune sites. APO tools use multiple secure servers to auto-generate consistently improving performance. routines. This is state of performance tuning art, risky and and expensive.
Question? – how is a consensus on the best Optimizing methods a fly in the ointment for performance tuning?
Several factors add tuning bitters to the workflow – constant change, overlapping tools, hackers, monitoring extent & workload.
1 – The Web and WordPress are undergoing rapid change both in enabling hardware technologies and binding software systems. So well tuned systems can become unglued by unexpected changes in hardware cost/technologie just like in software. Think of the dramatically lower server costs that makke Cloud Sytems ever more capable and complicated. Or the constant changes in Web UX software ranging from basic UX tools like React.js. Node.js, Vue3, Laravel, Django etc where cost and features constantly shift. Likewise , Layout methods from Bootstrap Frameworks, Flexbox Layout and CSS Gridto vie for website layout leadrship but add new layers to CSS, JS, PHP, HTML processing – new knowledge burden. Staying current with the latest Web and WordPress technology is a full time job because the rules of web development are are constantly changing.
2 – Of course Web and WordPress hardware and software systems offer overlappiing features, varying costs, and different warranties complicating performance tuning decisions;
3 – Hackers are “making a living” by exploiting weaknesses including lax updates and casual/minimal security protections resulting in debilitating service outages;
4 – Monitoring tools as we shall see below have become more pervasive but also more of a daily workload.
Given these performance factors, advising my clients has tended to focus on backend systems, because they are vital for ongoing operations including optimizing performance.
Website Monitoring Tools
The hardest argument to make to new website owners is to invest in their critical backend systems – backup and data management, security firewalls/defenses, ongoing website monitoring services. Yes, thes tools draw resources away from website sales, design and marketing. But backend tools support ongoing operations throughout the website. Even more important, marketing systems like SEO-Search Engine Optimization draw info from backend systems – especially ongoing website analytics and monitoring services. But website analytics will be part of a separate review,
We have already cited how APO Tuning draws on Analytics & Web Tracking tools. There is a whole array of servivces that tell how effective your pages are serving customers with one missing ingredient – detailed page performance. So as a developer, whenever I add a new post, page or component service I turn to one of the webpage measuring tools listed below.
Tools.Pingdom.com – is one of a huge selection of SolarWinds free and premium website monitoring tools. The cost of the premium service starts at $10/month. which adds much more tuning info to the basic free tool.
Pingdom was one of the first free popular Web Page measuring tools but the basic free tool has lost much info – $10/month restores that.
Google PageSpeedInsights – is free and very popular webpage testing service. PageSpeed insights offer mobile as well desktop results As can be seen in the screenshot there is lots more info than the free basic Pingdom report, particularly mobile results.
GooglePageSpeed insights works with any web app but offers some very helpful services for WordPress testers. First, Google has more performance data for how the mobile pages look and perform. But even more helpful, is that all of the advisory warnings when expanded out offer WordPress specific tips including links to the theme or plugins directories with tags which reveal themes or plugins that may address your tuning problems. This is a relatively new and winning feature for WordPress developers.
GTMetrix is a free or premium webpage tuning tool. Its “free” service offers very good display of the basic webpage performance data whilebeing fairly fast in delivering results.
Like GooglePagespeed, GTMetrix offers a dropdown of hints/tips for every warning message. The Premium version at $1o/month supports extensive mobile performance data plus the ability to watch up the 3 sites on an hourly basis.including detailed reports. As well, retention of the reports history goes from 1 month to 6 months while the max number of weekly tests goes from 30 to 170 with the premium plans.
WebPageTests – has a free plan for 300 tests/month and $15/month premium plan that supports 1000 tests/month from 40 locations. The basic plan supports a variety of special tests and priority options for webpage testing:
Here ae the results after 3 runs using the3rd test run. The scores are marginally better than GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed . Note the filmstrip view of the page appearing during the test – this is a feature of the system so owners can see how a site reveals itself in detail.
But WebPageSpeed delivers a ton of additional runtime information as seen in the screenshot:
Click on the waterfall image and get both a waterfall chart and an interactions diagram. Likewise if you click on either the Request or the Bytes Pi charts there is a a ton of more detailed information available. A Web developer colleague literally loves these reports for” tough page optimizations”.
Uptime.com is really about monitoring all the services offered on your website. There is a 14 day free start period and the premium basic starts at $68/month and rises to $699. The screenshot shows the Web Page Speed check but that is only one tes check or monitoring service provided by Uptime:
The Page Speed Check offers basic advisories on your web page performance. And Uptime provides a battery of checks, monitors and alerts for all pages, email, and other integrations on your website. At $699/month it rivals the costs of some of the premium hosting services whch also offer uptime and connection monitoring services.
Webpage Monitoring reflects the fast pace in the Web development in general. Pingdom has trimmed it options in favor of monthly fees, Alerta and Dareboost either closed down or changed their entire business. models. Yes, there are WordPress multi-website monitoring and support services that perform some of the Uptime and Website Monitoring functions like Main WP and WP Manasge But in day-to-day development, this developer finds the GooglePageSpeed Insights and/or the GTMetrix results are an essential part of discussing project progress with clients. Yes, the costs and features are shifting , but this is endemic with WordPress Design and Development. Interested in learrning more? – Come to the Free Speed Matters Zoom meetup Tuesday Nov 8th at 6PM EST. And if you find this review or the meetup helpful, buy me a cup of coffee.