Keeping an Eye on Your Page Speed: The WordPress Performance Framework

Jan Hornung
7 Min.
The RAIDBOXES  WordPress -Performance-Framework
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Performance checks are complex. Especially if you sites optimize not just one but several. Therefore, it must be clear which optimization measures are worthwhile at all and what you are fighting against windmills with. And of course you have to keep an overview. Today I have a framework in my luggage with which you can record all your optimization measures exactly and determine precisely which measures of the loading time of your website really benefit.

Whether Webpagetest.org, Google Test My Site , Google PageSpeed Insights - in the meantime you as a webmaster have a whole range of tools at your disposal with which you can measure the loading time of your web pages in detail. Especially the Google tools Test My Site (for mobile sites ) and PageSpeed Insights (for mobile and desktop versions) will give you tips and instructions on how to reduce the load time of your webpages: Set up caching, resize images, minimize CSS files.

The same is true for monitoring tools, which periodically collect the PageSpeed ratings and loading times of your sites website.

So you set about implementing all the usual measures in elaborate detail and in the end you realize that yours site actually loads much faster. Very gratifying. Only: Which measure was the most important in the end?

We know from experience: Not all optimization measures make sense

In more than 450 detailed performance analyses, we have found that the really relevant problems are not always addressed. Result: For example, a great deal of time and money is invested in setting up a CDN, even though this does not ultimately bring any performance advantage (e.g. because the visitors come exclusively from Germany). This means that some operations can be confidently avoided and time can be invested more sensibly.

That's exactly why we have built a small framework internally to check the results of our own performance optimizations. With this framework we are able to track exactly which optimization measures have led to which results. And we also use it to measure the impact of Plugins and Themes on page performance. 

So today I'm going to show you

Better WordPress performance increases ranking and conversion rate

The fact that the loading speed is site a ranking factor was already proven in 2010 officially confirmed by Google ...so it's really old hat. So the faster it site is, the better it'll rank.

Sounds banal, but you have to internalize it.

Google itself recommends for example as ideal value for the Time to First Byte (TTFB), i.e. the time until the server answers, 200 milliseconds.

RAIDBOXES  WordPress  Performance Framework error message from Google PageSpeed Insights regarding TTFB
This message from Google PageSpeed Insights is only displayed if your TTFB is site less than 200 milliseconds.

The connection between the loading time of a web page and the ranking at Google could be investigated by Moz, one of the American big players in SEO, can also be proven independently in 2013. In these two studies the colleagues find a strong correlation between ranking and TTFB:

Interestingly enough, the Americans were able no Connection between the Total loading time site and the Pagerank! So you see: Not every optimization measure pays directly into the search engine optimization.

The concrete WordPress -performance is especially relevant for online business

The topic of page speed is also of enormous importance for online business, even when it comes to topics other than search engines. Because the WordPress performance influences conversion rates and user behaviour.

0.1 second more = 1 percent less turnover

As early as 2006, Amazon determined via A/B tests that 100 milliseconds delay in loading average loss of 1 percent of sales could mean. A whole second delay then adds up to 1.6 billion dollars in lost sales per year for Amazon.

In a slimmed-down form, this principle therefore applies to all shops: If the shopper has to wait too long for themsite , the probability of a purchase is reduced. The Google Tool Test my Site already takes this fact into account in its input mask with the slogan:

"Most sites lose half their visitors while loading."

Raidboxes WordPressperformance framework the home page of google test my site
In addition to the saying, Google Test my Site also outputs a value that shows how high the probability is that users will jump off one site because it loads too slowly.

Also for content applies: The slower the site , the less is read

The Financial Times tested 2016as readers react to a delay of one to five seconds in the loading time.

It turned out that the slower the site visit, the fewer articles the visitors read per visit. Both the income from subscriptions and advertising suffered from a too slow site .

The conclusion of the media house: Half a year later the website completely overhauledwith emphasis on page loading time. The redesign of a website and its load time optimization alone have contributed to boosting the core publishing business.

Ebook: Measure the performance of your site like a pro

Connection is also evident in the services business

And the loading times of your own website are also important for service providers. This shows for example the case of the Canadian software developer IntuitFrom 2012 to 2013, the provider was able to improve the charging time of its site batteries by over nine seconds.

And this optimization also had tangible business advantages: When the loading time of the website was more than seven seconds, the conversion rate increased by three percentage points with every second reduction. Even when the loading speed was already under four seconds, every second of improvement added another percentage point to the conversion rate.

So, to sum up: For shops, publishers and service providers, the loading time of the website has a demonstrable influence on the conversion rates. Not to mention the relevance as a ranking factor.

The reason for this is assumed to be in the perception of the users. These articles show impressive examples:

Therefore, it is important not to get involved in shadow boxing fights when optimizing performance, but to really optimize where you can positively influence the perception of the site visitor.

Maintain overview, identify levers: This is what our tool

So, after all the facts and figures, now something solid. By the way, you get access to the framework via one of the input masks in this article.

But what does the framework actually achieve?

During the optimization and analysis of hundreds of WordPress sites we noticed that the analysis tools GTmetrix and Webpagetest create a test history, but that this history quickly becomes very confusing if you regularly sites test several tests.

For example, we have found that especially with slimsites Plugins, which compress CSS and JavaScript do not always make sense. At least not if the ones site under SSL runs and HTTP/2 uses. The effort can be saved completely at this point or at least the measures can be postponed.

Our framework is based on the Google spreadsheet tool. We ourselves use a semi-automated variant, where the tests are performed automatically with Webpagestest.

Who can use the performance framework

Especially for SEOs, agencies, designers and consultants it makes sense to have many in view at the same sites time. This is also where we see the greatest benefit: With the framework, you can test different measures directly against each other and systematically find out what is now beneficial and what is not.

How to use the performance RAIDBOXES framework

The name is a bit unwieldy, but the usage is quite simple:

Step 1: Search measuring tool and record basic data

As a starting value, you raise all the loading times of your site data once and record them in the table. You can use Webpagetest, GTmetrix or Pingdom Tools for this purpose. We recommend Webpagetest. The Google Tool simply offers the best settings for really good measuring:

Be sure to select the correct spreadsheet for the test being used. No matter which tool you use, the following values are usually recorded: Time to First Byte, Start Render (time when the visible page starts to load) and the Load Time (how fast it site loads in the perception of your users). The tool calculates values like the perceived load time automatically.

It is also important that you write down the sites URL and the date of the measurement.

Step 2: Optimize and measure again

Now you carry out your optimization measure (e.g. compress your images), take a new measurement with the same tool and enter the values in the corresponding fields. The framework now automatically calculates whether - and if so, by how much - the individual values have changed. Of course, it is important that no other changes have been site made to the.

That's it. There is nothing more to be considered. Although we do have a tip at this point:

It's important that you always carry out several measurement runs. Only in this way and with the calculation of average values can you arrive at reasonably reliable values. Why, for example, the colleagues from HootProof in her great " OptimizationWordPress Guide". In our article on using Webpagetest we also show how you can reliably produce good test ressults with the Google tool.

Click through and try it

Simple, but powerful: With the framework you not only keep track of your current optimization cases, but also of the performance of your running WordPress projects.

This makes sense especially if you are looking after many sites at the same time and want to understand your optimization process better.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment or write me a mail directly.

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