Slow page load times membership pro site +plugins

Hi guys,

So I set up a fantastic membership site using Membership 2 Pro, plus a bunch of other plugins (mainly WPMU Dev plugins to ensure they play well together!) - after all a membership site which only allows people to meet each other is hardly earth-shattering!

Unfortunately, page load time is still over two seconds, despite working with my developer AND server management team to reduce it (it was over 9 seconds!) and even keeping the theme to the default 2016 theme (I built it last year). And this is from a regional server - I will probably need CDN before I launch globally, as the load times are still high from more distant servers.

I have lots of plugins installed, it's true, though many are actually, in theory, optimisation plugins. The actual functionality is mainly BuddyPress, bbPress and Jobs & Experts to provide a compelling reason to join (I have MarketPress installed to allow paid memberships too).

Am I being too ambitious? I don't think so - after all, what is the point of these plugins if they slow everything down so much? And I am told the server, while not a big one, is adequate (and fairly empty) to handle this.

Any help you guys can give would be much appreciated!

Thanks,
Arthur

    Predrag Dubajic

    Hey Arthur,

    Hope you had a nice weekend

    I had a look at your site and check the stats in Google page site insights, the site is pretty well optimized and it looks like the biggest impact on load times is the server response time.

    This is something that's best checking with your host, besides that you can try installing a caching plugin like WP Super Cache or Batcache and using CDN should help out as well.

    Number of plugins you have installed also does affect this as it can increase number of files that that need to be loaded, caching and CDN help with that as well but removing plugins you don't need can also improve your loading times.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

    Arthur

    Hi Predrag,

    Good thanks

    I feel a bit like a tennis ball at the moment...! Last year I had the server guys optimise the site. I have now had a wordpress developer optimise it which reduced the load time but he sent me back to the the server guys - who told me to talk to the developers!

    We are experimenting with optimisation and caching plugins but it's still loading slow - though the file size is only 521k. I wonder if the optimisation/caching plugins are conflicting with each other...!

    I was told by a tech wizard that my server should be powerful enough but do you have any mi minimum recommended specs for a more heavyweight site like this?

    Thanks!
    Arthur

    Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Arthur,

    Plugin and theme optimization can only go to a certain point, even if it completely optimized it depends on the number of plugins you use and their functionality, if there are many used with complex functionality it will naturally take longer to load.

    Similar stands for servers, there are probably some things they can do in order to improve the speed as much as possible and will most likely depends on the servers they are using, if there's nothing else they can do they will probably send you back to developers.
    This can be different from host to host as they have different server configurations and there's probably hosting that can offer you better optimization.

    It seems that your site loads quite fast after it gets server response but 'till that point it does take some time so I'm leaning towards a server related issue here.

    I was told by a tech wizard that my server should be powerful enough but do you have any mi minimum recommended specs for a more heavyweight site like this?

    I must say that I'm not sure about this as it depends on lot of factors and it might be best checking with your host about this, maybe they have better package for your site that will make it run better.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

    Arthur

    Hi Predrag,

    Thanks so much for the detailed response, very helpful.

    The host, in this case, is me - I rent a server from OVH/Soyoustart and it's at the lower end while my requirements are low (I build and host a few sites as a sideline since I've been working with WP for so long!). And I pay a server management company to look after it, and developers to do things I can't.

    So far, so good, until my "Grand Plan" - I built the site myself and was very happy, after many, many hours building and testing...until a friend pointed out how slow it was! In fact, I have now tested my vanilla blog site I started in parallel when I discovered this, and after a year and minimal optimisation it's almost triple the size and the same loading time - so the guys have obviously done a great job with optimisation!

    My conclusion is, therefore, that I won't get any more juice from this, not without changing servers, anyway. Two thoughts occur to me, then, and if you don't mind, I'll run them past you to see what you think - thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.

    1. 3.5 seconds is not so bad for a heavyweight membership site. I tested the Wall Street Journal site (from Dallas, Texas), and it took almost 16 seconds! New York Times similarly. So while I would want it to be under 2 seconds, it's not the train wreck it was or I thought it still was.

    2. I still have the option of keeping the original static html site, which loads at a decent speed. I was hoping to avoid that, to keep all the content in one place (plus I'm actually paying for another system at the moment, I wanted to jump fully into WP/WPMU!), but a quick loading main site, with a separate site for already-engaged, interested users may be a better bet to keep my good pagerank up (around 1000 visits/day)

    Thanks again!
    Arthur

    Predrag Dubajic

    Hi Arthur,

    As I mentioned above, your site does seem well optimized and loading time is quick after you get a response from a server, waiting for that actually takes the most time on your site.

    1. 3.5 seconds is not so bad for a heavyweight membership site. I tested the Wall Street Journal site (from Dallas, Texas), and it took almost 16 seconds! New York Times similarly. So while I would want it to be under 2 seconds, it's not the train wreck it was or I thought it still was.

    There are couple of things that need to be considered here, these are popular site with regular visitors that know what to expect, if you want to get new users on new site you should do your best to not annoy them with loading times.
    Also, on those sites the content is visible before the page is fully loaded, while in your case there's only white screen while waiting for server response, this can throw of users.
    If I remember correctly from some research before, around 50% percent of visitors except the page to load under 2 seconds and around 40% of visitors will close the site if loading time is over 3 seconds.

    You may want to consider using one of the managed WP hosting solutions, you can have a look at our Members forum where there are couple of discussions about hosting environments and perhaps that will help you with finding the one that suits you the best.

    Best regards,
    Predrag

    Arthur

    Thanks for the follow-up, Predrag.

    I have not wanted to go back to managed hosting in part because of my bad experiences and partly because I like having my own servers (as I've said, I build and host a few sites and having my own server means I can give free first year hosting to my customers).

    But you make very valid points - even if I were to maintain the html site and only have already engaged users/customers go to the membership site, the same point applies. Equally, while many of my visitors/subscribers and future customers are in countries with slower internet connections, so are used to it, I shouldn't settle for what will be an even slower load time.

    I'll think about managed hosting, at least for this site and possibly the rest, and save on hosting and cPanel licences!

    Thanks again, I'll mark this resolved now.
    Arthur