WordPress Optimization with Studiopress Genesis Framework

WordPress Optimization with Studiopress Genesis Framework

Share these actual insights

WordPress optimization‘ they said. ‘Your site is so slow‘ they said. You know what, they were right. That’s why, on advice from some of my fellow bloggers, I took a look at Studiopress’ Genesis Framework and their dedicated WordPress hosting platform Synthesis. Within a matter of hours, research takes time you know, I was sold.

But why are you blogging about it?

Well, every company that I have been doing work for, often does not realize the effects of performance on the overall user experience. So, I needed to put my money where my mouth is and optimize my own blog!

Bad performance harms conversion

My good friends over at Tagman recently conducted a research with Glasses Direct to investigate the effects of how bad performance harms conversion.

According to Tagman

When page-load time increases, likely conversion rates dropped by 6.7%. In the above graph you can see conversion peaking at around 2 seconds. This confirms the findings summarized in the KISSMetrics Infographic showing 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. After this peak the rate drops by 6.7% for each additional second.
Read more at Tagman

Now, before we start getting into details into what causes the actual latency, please remind yourself, that as professionals let’s make a point of it to at least optimize all that we can. We can’t influence everything when it comes to performance such as mobile phone network connections, outdated browsers, fragmented hard drives. But let’s make sure we influence all that we can control.

So, when you imagine that a picture is worth a thousand words, then let me share this with you. actualinsights* with its motto ‘Real Users, Real Data, Real Insights‘, wouldn’t live up to its reputation if I didn’t show you home real data.

This is a screenshot of Pingdom* shortly after I switched servers for actualinsights* showing the dramatic drop in server respone times.

* all tracking was done using Pingdom’s RUM (Real User Monitoring) tags, so no synthetic page load monitoring

Wordpress Optimization - Response Time Last 24 Hours May 29 2013

I started my DNS propagation just before noon

Performance by Loading States and Platform

Here are two more screenshots showing the improvement in performance with regards to the different loadings states, and the differences per platform.

Wordpress Optimization - Performance by Loading States and Platform May 27 2013

Performance by Loading States and Platform on my old hosting pltaform.

And the day after…

Wordpress Optimization - Performance by Loading States and Platform May 28 2013

Performance by Loading State and Platform the day after I switched.

Don’t let me forget the general overview of the actual page load times

Wordpress Optimization - Page Load Times May 2013

The drop in (median) page load times at the end of the month, after the update, is clearly visible.

Need more proof?

Cluttered WordPress Installation

My previous WordPress installation, and all my other sites, had been running over at JaguarPC since 2008 for $4.95/month and had been poorly maintained. A plugin here, theme update there, a little hack everywhere. The lack of maintenance was starting to show in my performance monitoring tool Pingdom.

I tried uninstalling some plugins, cleaning up my database, and even tried WordPress’ Jetpack built-in CDN image hosting facility. Nothing worked, and let’s be honest, sometimes, when you have done all you can, you need to consider looking beyond your area of control. So, I took a more critical look at my hosting provider.

actualinsights* was previously hosted at JaguarPC. I have had a great experience with them, but my plan with them did not allow me to scale my blog any further without having to pay a lot more money. Although I still run my other sites through their hosting service, I needed something more upscale for actualinsights*. Not only in terms of hosting, but also in terms of a solid WordPress framework.

Copyblogger’s Studiopress Genesis Framework

Copyblogger, known from it’s awesome SEO tool Scribe, also keeps itself busy with other WordPress activities. The two Copyblogger service that I considered, and have now purchased, are:

  1. Studiopress Genesis Framework + Metro Theme (link)
  2. Sythesis (link)

With the Studiopress Genesis Framework and the Studiopress Metro theme, I wanted to accomplish several things, with my main focus on WordPress optimization.

  • Perform a clean install of WordPress (get rid of hidden crap in my database and files)
  • Use a less heavy theme for my blog (less plugins, widgets, and other lagging pieces of code)
  • Remain responsive (no separate theme for mobile)
  • Be sure that my WordPress installation was secure (hack safe and frequent backups)

Since combining all of the above with the Synthesis web hosting service, I have been getting some amazing results in terms of performance, and SEO optimization. More importantly, you, my readers have been getting a better experience in terms of page load times. Check out these two graphs showing Page Load Time Distribution from a day before the switch, to the day after.

Wordpress Optimization - Load_Time_Distribution_May_27_2013

Page Load Time Distribution on May 27th. Heavy distribution between 0 and 16 seconds.

So, here is the day after…

Wordpress Optimization - Load_Time_Distribution_May_28_2013

Page Load Time Distribution on May 28th. Distribution has shifted to the left, with predominant sub 7 seconds load times.

As for SEO, see this jump in Google Webmaster Tool, just 1 day after the switch. My clickthroughs doubled…

Wordpress Optimization - Google Webmaster Tools

After cleaning out 404′s and switching to the Studiopress Genesis Framework, change was instant.

WordPress Optimization

I never used to think too much about WordPress optimization. It wasn’t until I started to monitor the performance through Pingdom that I became aware of the dire situation my blog was in. I couldn’t let the visitors of my blog experience something so terrible any longer.

The update to the Studiopress Genesis Framework, and Synthesis web hosting service has been a great experience, and in retrospect one of the best decisions I have made for this blog in a long time. Especially if you consider that the hosting service at Synthesis comes with a starter version of Copyblogger’s Scribe!

I hope you continue to enjoy the better performance, and of course the blog itself.

If you have any further tips & tricks for me, or thoughts and ideas on performance optimization, please do not hesitate to contact me, or leave a reply below. Or, get your professional backside into gear and optimize your company/blog website today!

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About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.

Comments

  1. You can even optimize more if you load jquery from google CDN, compress you code (html+css+js) and use imageoptim on every image you upload. I didn’t look at you CSS but most of the time there’s also a lot to win there (but that’s rendering time, not server load time).

  2. hey – how was the SEO impact the week after going to the genesis framework?

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