It’s hard to be motivated when things move slowly. I recently spent a week obsessing about my slow loading website. What’s the point in writing if people aren’t able to read my posts because the site is so slow?
I can be impatient but seven seconds to load a page seems like a life time and that’s just the front page. My WordPress admin has been painful to load for ages. It’s one of the reasons I don’t blog as much (I know excuses, excuses).
Well, I decided to get to the bottom of things starting with the admin area. It turns out that Jetpack slows down the WordPress admin area because when you activate Jetpack all the free plugins are activated by default. Some of them you may never use. If your WordPress admin is slow to load and you have Jetpack, deactivate all the plugins and only turn on the ones you really want to use. Make sure you test them one at a time to see which one is causing an issue for you.
I wanted to use Photon the image acceleration and editing service that dynamically serves your images from the WordPress cloud. This means fewer loads on your host server and images load faster on your site. Unfortunately, I was having issues with post thumbnails which resulted in broken images. This issue may be specific to my current theme so, I might try again when I change my theme.
Now that I’ve turned off plugins that I don’t need the admin area is much faster and I’m much happier. Now for the front end.
Your themes can slow down your site depending on how it is coded. I did a speed test on my site and my theme is definitely a factor with the various external style sheets and scripts. My post images were also a factor so I’ve started using EWWW Image Optimizer to reduce the file sizes of my images. I’ve noticed an improvement in load times.
For a few days I tried W3 Tota Cache but I found clearing my cache every time I made changes annoying. I would have prevailed if the latest Total Cache update didn’t break my site. I might give this another try if the issues can be fixed.
I used Pingdom Website Speed Test to check my load times and I’ve gone from being one of the slowest sites on the planet last week to “Your website is faster than 32% of all tested websites” with a performance grade of 64/100. That will do for now. Just by turning off plugins I don’t need and optimising my images, I’ve made some improvements. Winning!
I will be changing my theme having looked at the Genesis vs Thesis argument both frameworks list speed as a benefit. In the meantime I’m inspired to write by the speed of my admin area.
I spent a few hours reading up some more on Genesis and Thesis framework and decided to go for the Genesis framework. Thesis seems to be causing issues for some since it’s upgrade, I don’t have time for it. After installing Genesis and my chosen child theme, it took less than an hour to get the site looking how I want. It’s not as pretty as my last theme but it’s functional and much faster. I ran another speed test and scored 80/100 and my site is now faster than 59% of sites tested. A definite improvement. Now I have no excuses not to blog.