WordPress optimization for a book blog

Bookuria.info is a site dedicated to book lovers where you can find news, editorials on the cultural scene and fresh promotions and discounts from book publishers.

Bogdan, the owner, has chosen us to see if we can make his website faster, which was the main dissatisfaction with the old host.

Let’s see what we did!

Performance audit

Before, the website had an average load of 4.78 seconds, the page size was 2.5 MB and the number of requests was 125.

Among the page components:

  • 37 JS – 627.6 K
  • 17 CSS – 109.1 K
  • 14 cssimages – 151K
  • 31 images – 1640.5 K

Google PageSpeed Insights ​​score was 73/100 and the main recommendations were:

  • reduces server response time (Currently 1.5 sec)
  • optimize images

A performance test of the plugins installed and enabled on the site shows that the Simple Share Buttons Adder plugin has a negative impact on loading speed:

  • plugin impact : 74.4%
  • plugin load time: 2.160 sec

After disabling that plugin and retesting, the numbers look a lot better:

  • plugin impact : 30.8%
  • plugin load time: 0.320 sec

Another factor that negatively affects site performance is the theme used. Time taken to load the theme is 1.22 seconds compared to 0.32 seconds it takes to load the plugins.

The theme has a problem that is very common in premium WordPress themes – trying to offer too many options and so it loads a large number of JS and CSS files.

Most options are not used in “real life” and site performance suffers.

The theme loads 34 JS files and many are useless.

There’s 3 Google Maps JS files totaling 199.6K and we never saw to be used anywhere on the site. Even if we wanted to place a map somewhere it can be done with iframe, we do not need so many JS files.

There are some JS files ​​for loading Google fonts (39.1K) which is a very inefficient method, a Google Font Library has 0.3K and loads pretty fast.

There are JS files that do nothing for us: for example, Syntax Highlighter, useless on this particular site.

Theme works with timthumb.php to make thumbnails. WordPress knows to make thumbnails, you don’t need another PHP script to do that for you.

Another problem with timthumb.php is that it breaks Lazy Load and loading speed site suffers.

Optimization done

  • optimized images
  • replaced plugins with problems with other plugins that provide similar functionality but are more lightweight
  • eliminated redundant and inactive plugins
  • identified the theme lines of code that loaded the useless JS files and we removed them
  • implemented a page cache + database cache
  • updated WordPress to the latest version
  • updated all active plugins to the latest versions

Results

A new test done with Pingdom Tools shows an average speed of 2.72 seconds, a good improvement from 4.78 seconds.

PageSpeed ​​Insights gives us a score of 85/100, a nice improvement over the 73/100 initial score.

JS files number dropped to 21 totaling 334.4K compared to the initial 37 totaling 627,6K.

Unfortunately, the WordPress theme pulls the site down pretty hard. No matter how we optimize and how fast the server is the visitors must still download 2MB of information because Lazy Load is not working because of timthumb.

The main recommendation here is to replace the theme with one that does not load so many JS files and doesn’t use timthumb.php.

This could reduce the average time to load the website to around 1-1.5 seconds.

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