Our experience so far has been terrible

Hi,

Unfortunately we have not had a happy experience so far.

The product appears to be extremely flaky and unstable (at least that has been our experience).

These are the problems we have encountered:

SMUSH

a) In the free version of Smush, the smushing never appears to complete and you have to keep refreshing the page to see the results (it must be working in the background but unless you refresh you could be waiting until the cows come home.

b) It is now doing exactly the same in Pro

Refreshing or cancelling is the only way to stop it from reporting 0% https://www.screencast.com/t/TjG9uLnHVza

But I estimate I would have do do that maybe 50 times which I am not prepared to do.

HUMMINGBIRD/performance optimization

I think Hummingbird may have been hit by buckshot and is badly wounded.

Well, rather, the website itself was hit by buckshot!!! Or more like a wrecking ball really.

So there we were, gloating in the fact that we had come down from 5-8 seconds to 1.8 to 2.3 seconds after running Hummingbird but then fortuitously checked the frontend to ensure everything looked fine.

It was at that point we realised that the only reason we were getting such good results was because the site had been trashed and there was nothing for the server to server!! - only two out of six menu items worked and major elements on the front page no longer existed.

We restored the site from a backed up version.

We would not take the risk of repeating the exercise.

So we have decided to use WPMU Dev simply for optimizing images (an hour later this is what appears (ie 0% progress):

https://www.screencast.com/t/QWcpWFeeu

We also found the UX in general provided insufficient information as to what our expectations should be as the performance optimization process progressed - it was very very slow and regular refreshing seemed to be the only way to get it to complete the task.

And if the optimization process is likely to be doing things that will completely break the site would not warnings be given?

In any event the result was a shambles and by right we should just uninstall it and cancel our subscription.

However I thought that we should at least obtain your feedback on our experience. Maybe there are contributing factors that can be dealt with?

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks and regards,

Bryan Gibson

  • Julian

    Hey there!

    As for your site looking like it was hit by a wrecking ball, did you enable asset optimisation without tweaking its settings? That’s an almost guaranteed way to wreck your site :slight_smile:

    You basically have to enable asset optimisation for each file one by one and check your site after each file to make sure nothing broke. Yeah it’s a manual process. Every site is unique and needs different asset optimisation settings.

  • Bryan

    Hi Julian,

    Thanks for taking the time out to assist.....

    Actually, a wrecking ball was the dynamic, the RESULT was essentially a nice clean level building pad!! ie there was no real information on the site available to view - it could not be accessed.

    No I didn't. I assumed it would work out of the box. And I think that if "tweaking" is required (btw "Tweaking" generally signifies fine tuning, as opposed to preventing a wrecking ball from starting to swing :smirk:slight_smile: then that is something that should be highlighted - especially when there is so much at stake. Following your line of advice, I doubt that most website owners would be up to that type of "tweaking"

    I have now also found out the Smush plugin has been preventing our sign up form from loading properly - and has also stopped another one of our plugins from working normally. So I I have now had to deactivate Smush.

    The problem is that to check every element on the site after making each change would take a crazy amount of time - and I think this would be necessary what we have experienced so far.

    I guess I'm just surprised that there is not more information/warnings provided - and because you don't see this there is a fair presumption that the optimization process will be stable and reliable. OR, if this is a developer-level type of process then that should be mentioned too.

    When you see a UI with cute cartoon characters and lots of statements about how easy everything is then I think this is a fair presumption.

    We have never installed anything on the site that has caused so much carnage and thank goodness for the integrity of our backup.

    And I am not just talking about optimisation either but Smush. Three hours later, Smush tells me it is still at 2% (it took an hour to get to 2% and three hours after that it is still at 2%!) I mean, is this normal?? As I said above, we cannot use Smush anyway as it was scrambling our sign up page.

    We have expensive Cloud hosting - we use the Avada theme by ThemeFusion and we only use quality plugins so we do not believe that there is any integral inferiority or weakness in any of those areas to have contributed to these problems.

    Now, I am prepared to accept that I should have studied everything more closely - but again, if careful studying is important then we as users (who do NOT hold themselves out as possessing a high level of technical skill) need to be taken by the hand and have things explained to them and also be encouraged to obtain help from a developer or other expert.

    Do you feel am being unreasonable? Afterall, this is not a cheap product.

    Anyhow, I would still like to make this work and so if I could take advantage of the following three things it would be much appreciated:

    a) Advice as to how we might address the Smush plugin conflict issue

    b) (assuming we can fix (a) advice as to how we can effectively optimize our images in bulk

    c) Direct me to some clear and concise information in how to do the optimization.

    I am more than prepared to be shown the folly of any of my ways!!

    Many thanks.

    Having said this, I am prepared to accept that

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    Really sorry to hear that you're having issues with our products.

    SMUSH

    a) In the free version of Smush, the smushing never appears to complete and you have to keep refreshing the page to see the results (it must be working in the background but unless you refresh you could be waiting until the cows come home.

    b) It is now doing exactly the same in Pro

    Refreshing or cancelling is the only way to stop it from reporting 0% https://www.screencast.com/t/TjG9uLnHVza

    But I estimate I would have do do that maybe 50 times which I am not prepared to do.

    That's certainly not the desired behavior, I checked this on my site and the status is updating fine there so it seems that there's something on your installation causing this.
    And based on the further info you provided about signup issues and another plugin breaking it seems that there's indeed some kind of a conflict on your installation.
    Could you tell us which plugin is broken and grant us support access to your site so we can investigate this further to check what's going on?
    To enable support access you can follow this guide here:
    https://premium.wpmudev.org/docs/getting-started/getting-support/#chapter-5

    About the asset optimization issues, this tool highly depends on the plugins and theme used on the site, how they behave with each other and how their files are handling minification.
    Since there are thousands of themes and plugins out there, and server configurations as well, it's simply impossible to know how they all will react to minification so there's really no easy way of getting the best results for your site without tweaking the files in there.

    The approach I like to use is to bulk disable minification until I find out which file(s) is causing the problem.
    So I would start with enabling minification for all of them and if there are any issues I would disable minification for like 10 files, if the issue is still there then I would enable it again for those files but disable for 10 different ones.
    Once I get the site working I would activate one by one out of those 10 until I find which one is causing the issue.

    Hope this would at least a bit, and as I mentioned above we would like to have a closer look at your installation so we can further investigate the Smush issues that you are having.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Bryan

    Hi Predag,

    Thank you for looking into this.

    The plugin in question (or least the one that I have identified) containing the short code for the sign up form is Thrive Leads. You can see one of the sign up forms here: and in various posts as well.

    I have granted you Support Access.

    We use Sucuri as our WAF and I have disabled IP whitelisting in order that you can gain access to the backend.

    I am a little unsure whether you were intending to look at the Optimization side of things or just Smush?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you and regards,

    Bryan

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    Unfortunately I don't have dedicated IP I could provide you with to whitelist, but I do have VPN app so perhaps you can try whitelisting some of their's IPs and I can try logging in that way?

    23.83.37.213
    23.88.120.154
    108.62.21.154
    108.62.202.211
    209.239.123.107

    I am a little unsure whether you were intending to look at the Optimization side of things or just Smush?

    I will mainly focus on Smush but I'll check the optimization issue as well and see if there's some info that could tell us exactly where the issue is.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Bryan

    Can I have an update please.

    BTW, we happened to notice yesterday that the site had been placed offline so I guess someone had started to look at things. Yet the WPMU Dev plugins were all still deactivated.

    Can you please notify us if these issues are currently being looked at and how long this is likely to take.

    If the site is to be taken off-line can you please notify us by email with an estimate of how long of will be off for and another email to let us know when it has been put back.

    Until I hear back I am placing the Sucuri WF back up. We cannot leave this on indefinitely without knowing what is going on.

    Thanks very much.

    Regards, Bryan

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    I'm afraid that our ticket count has been a bit high lately so I was unable to check your site, but you can easily check if WPMU DEV staff has accessed your site by going to WPMU DEV > Support panel, on the top bottom side you should see list of staff members that accessed your site and at what time.
    However, when we do access member sites we do ask for a permission before deactivating plugins and if we do deactivate them we get them back as soon as possible so this doesn't seem like someone from our staff would have done.

    Do you perhaps have a staging site where you could disable WF and keep it that way while we investigate this in more depth?

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Bryan

    Hello Predrag

    Sorry it has taken awhile for me to get back to this.

    I finally set a staging site. I deactivated ALL plugins except Smush. It has taken over 30 minutes to Smush less than 2% of media attachments so at that rate it will take 30-40 hours. During which time we will have to have the site offline of course as there is a conflict between Smush and Thrive Leads. We cannot afford to do that.

    Maybe you can let me know if this is normal behavior? I suppose it must be if all plugins are deactivated.

    I guess at this stage therefore we remain very concerned about functionality.

    Regards,

    Bryan

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    When you optimize your images via Smush, your images are sent to our server where the optimization is performed, and once its done they are sent back to your site and replace the unoptimized images.
    Because of that speed of optimization is affected by number of images that you have, their size and how much they can be optimized, and of course the upload and download speed of your server since it needs to send and receive those images.

    Could you now grant us support access to your staging site so we can have a closer look at what's going on there?

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Bryan

    Hi Predrag,

    I have now completed the Bulk optimization on the Staging install, as a result of which the the GTMetrix score is worse than ever - it had been C77% to D67% prior to using Smush but is now down to F35%!

    Unfortunately some of the early smushing had taken place on the live site and so I cannot reverse the effects of Smush. And after do the majority of smushing on the staging install this also made things worse not better.

    I just don't understand how we can run supposedly what is image optimisation and made things twice as bad!!??

    All this at a time when we are trying to improve our site performance, not make it worse!

    I think I pretty much want to give up. Would you be able to look at it please on the staging site:

    https://staging4.themicrogardener.com/wp-admin

    Same credentials.

    I will take off Sucuri WAF for 24 hours to give you a chance to look into this.

    Sorry - I just feel so frustrated.

    Thank you

    Regards,

    Bryan

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    Speed tests can be quite inconsistent, they don't just depend on the stuff loaded on your server but on the speed that they are loaded as well, so if performed image optimization, and some other tasks as well, for example Asset Optimization in Hummingbird, or something like that, that could have used some resources from the server that would cause lower score temporary.
    It's best to leave your site to sit for some time after such tasks are done and then perform the tests again.

    Also, do you remember what the score was affected by the most in your old tests?
    Are the grades you are referring to related to image optimization or those are overall grades?

    I would like to check your staging site but when you grant support access we don't get your login details, we are logged-in to your site from WPMU DEV Dashboard.
    So I don't have your login details to that I could use on staging site, and in order for us to access it you would need to grant support access just as you did on the live site.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Bryan

    Hi Predrag,

    Thanks for your response.

    I did actually add admin support in Staging4 - I will check this out. And the credentials are as they are with the live site.

    Here is a screenshot 24 hours later showing the same poor results for the staging site

    https://www.screencast.com/t/Oftk2jXIS2Pp.

    You will also note that the page size is much greater on the staging - goodness knows why

    Cheers,

    Bryan

  • Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Bryan,

    I'm afraid that I don't see your staging site in the list of sites registered with your account, I only see your live installation.
    Could you go to WPMU DEV > Support panel in your main site and in the message field leave the login details of your staging site and we can access if that way?

    As I can see from the results on the attached screenshot the staging site doesn't have minification and GZIP compression enabled so its understandable that report is giving a lower score.
    And I do see that image optimization score is just a bit better and with access to staging site I should be able to see how it can be further improved.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

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