slow page loads

I'm on a mission to boost the page loading and general performance of a WordPress site I recently took over management of. Currently hosted on AWS EC2 Linux instance with latest Apache, PHP, MySQL installed. Small ecommerce site, not huge traffic, but performance audits reveal some issues. Am experienced with WP but still developing with server admin. and performance optimizing. Researching online and have a "to do" list based on reports from Google Chrome Lighthouse, Pingdom, GTMetrix. But could use a little guidance on where the "low-hanging fruit" is so I can get this fixed ASAP. Any tips or insights appreciated. Thanks.

  • James Morris

    Hello Ed,

    I hope you are well today.

    Since the site in question is not registered in your account through the WPMU DEV Dashboard, it's a little difficult for me to tell what you have installed and configured, but through using Pingdom Tools and GTMetrix, I was able to get some basic insights.

    First thing I noticed is that your TTFB (time to first byte) is a bit high and you are not leveraging certain technologies that would improve this and asset loading. For example, Browser Caching, Page Caching, Script Deferment, Script Minification. All of these issues, and more, can easily be handled by our excellent Hummingbird Pro plugin.

    This would be the best starting point for you. I recommend installing this plugin (and no other similar plugins to avoid conflicts). Go through the settings slowly and carefully. Be sure to read all the notices, tips and options. This is a very powerful plugin, but when used carelessly, can render a site's display incorrectly due to the nature of how CSS and JS minification, combining and relocation works.

    As with all things, please be sure to make a full backup of your site before performing such procedures.

    Let us know if you have any further questions. We'll be happy to help! :slight_smile:

    Best regards,

    James Morris

  • Ed

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your reply. I've downloaded the WPMU DEV Dashboard plugin but have not activated it yet (I may test this on my DEV site first just to be sure there's no conflicts with other plugins).

    I went ahead and edited my server's httpd.conf file to allow for GZ compression, and the GTMatrix scan improved noticeably. GTMatrix indicates poor cacheing, but I see that the previous site admin. installed and configured WP Super Cache, and when I test the cache within the plugin's settings page it says it's working. When I test the cache at https://www.giftofspeed.com/cache-checker/ it shows a long list of cached files and a short list of non cached files (mostly Google Analytics and Facebook stuff). I wonder why GTMatrix is telling me I need to improve cacheing if it's already working? I have some code to insert in httpd.conf to enable cacheing, but have held off for now until I understand what's going on with this plugin. Any insights appreciated.

    Also, it looks like the TTFB is running about 2 seconds typically. This should be more like 200ms, right? Does that mean something on the server is misconfigured or will this improve with better caching, better initial rendering, etc.?

    I'll look more at your hummingbird plugin, maybe give that a try on the DEV site.

    Appreciate the help. Please let me know your thoughts on the questions I posed above.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  • James Morris

    Hello Ed

    I wonder why GTMatrix is telling me I need to improve cacheing if it's already working?

    This is due to the limitation of caching remote assets. In short, you can't, easily. The following post on Webmaster's StackExchange goes into a bit more detail about this: https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/56992/leverage-browser-caching-for-facebook-google-or-other-3rd-party-resource-file

    In most cases, these can be ignored. But if having the highest speed possible is a very high priority for you, you may need to asynchronously load these assets, remove them an find alternatives, or configure an advanced proxy.

    Also, it looks like the TTFB is running about 2 seconds typically. This should be more like 200ms, right?

    Anything between 200-500ms is good. 500ms-1s is less than ideal, but still not uncommon. Anything over 1s requires investigation. There's an excellent article on KeyCDN that goes into more detail about TTFB and some good tips on improving it. https://www.keycdn.com/blog/a-slow-website-time-to-first-byte-ttfb/

    Our Hummingbird plugin is a direct, drop-in replacement for WP Super Cache, and soooo much more. I think you'll really like everything it does. :slight_smile:

    Best regards,

    James Morris