137 – Make your WordPress website load faster with Jan Koch

In this episode:

Discussion – Make your WordPress website load faster with Jan Koch

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This podcast episode is all about speed. Getting your site to load as fast as possible which we all know is becoming an increasingly important topic, especially regarding your site SEO.

Now there are many, many parts that go into making a website load fast. Too many in fact to spell out in great detail in a single podcast episode. Luckily though, our guest, Jan Koch, has taken much of the hard work out of finding this information and put much of it into one single blog post.

There you’re going to find much of what we’re talking about in this episode of the WP Builds WordPress podcast.

Broadly speaking we dwell on the following areas:

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What should you be looking for in a host? The answer is not always about spending as much money as you possibly can, but certainly it’s not about spending as little as you possibly can! Cheap, shared hosting is not going to be your best friend. It’s unlikely to be optimised to run WordPress and it’s also going to be pushing the absolute maximum out of the minimal infrastructure that they have dedicated to your WordPress website. You need to be asking questions of your host, or researching answers to questions such as what hardware do they store your WordPress file on – are they using SSD’s? Can you have SSH access to modify the files? Are there any limits on the number of pages that they will allow to be loaded each month and is there a cap on the data that they’ll send across the wire for you? Can you upgrade the site in the event of a spike in traffic, and can this be automated for you. What about backups etc. I could go on, but you get the point. Explore all of these things and get the answers that you need and then pick the host that suits your budget.

Minimal theme

Now, we’re not trying to get you to use a particular theme here, but we are saying that if you want your WordPress website to load quickly, then you need to think about the theme that you’re going to be using. Sure, it’s beguiling to go and buy a theme that has all of the latest feature – this fancy sliding interface, and custom post types for every single possible scenario, each with their own template files to make them as interesting as possible. You can do this, sure you can, but at the expense of speed. If you want your site to load fast, you need to use a theme that is as minimal as possible. One that does what it needs and no more. You can add the ‘more’ later if you really need it, but you don’t need all-the-things right at the start, they’re going to slow you right down.


I’m no expert at caching, but safe to say that if you can make it so that the users of your website can access a cached version of your website pages, that’s going to be faster than if WordPress has to build the pages each and every time they are requested. Within the different caching plugins there are many, many different options and we touch lightly on them.

  • does the order of caching matter?
  • reduce the number of resources loaded – merging .js and .css – careful though, this can lead to your WordPress website breaking
  • test on a staging server which is the same as the original – staging
  • set expire headers so that you can leverage the browser cache where possible
  • Image optimisation – use the correct dimensions for your site and then strip unneeded metadata from the images – be aware of the settings. Do you want your compressions to be lossless or lossy?
  • Lazy loading images can reduce the original payload from the server and allow your visitors to get fast access to your pages.

It’s a very interesting discussion and I hope that you manage to get something out of it and that you have faster loading websites as a result!

Mentioned in this episode:

https://wpmastery.xyz/wpbuilds – Make WordPress Load Faster Than 1 Second

Jan’s Twitter – @iamjankoch



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WP Rocket

Swift Performance


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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: 00:00 [Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPresscommunity. Now welcome your host, David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.

Nathan Wrigley: 00:21 Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 137 entitled make your WordPresswebsite load faster with Jan Koch. It was published on Thursday the 18th of July, 2019 my name is Nathan Wrigley from picture and word.co. Dot. UK, a small web development agency, and we're based in the north of England. But before we start all of that, let me point you to a few things on the WP build.com website. So WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe there. You'll find a page with a whole bunch of links to all of the places that you can find. What WP Builds does. So there's our Facebook group, there is our youtube channel. There's a couple of mailing lists that you can sign up for. Go and have a look if you're interested in our content, go and have a look at forward slash. Subscribe and you'll learn. You'll find out everything that we do.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:13 Okay forward slash deals. If you want to avail yourself of coupon codes, percentages off WordPress plugins, themes, that kind of thing, go and check it out. If you're in the market to buy something because you never know, you might get a significant amount off just by visiting that page and forward slash. Advertise. If you would like to advertise on the WP Builds podcast like the page builder framework have, do you use a page builder to create your websites or the page builder framework is a mobile responsive and lightening fast WordPress theme that works with beaver builder, elementor breezy, and other page builders with its endless customization options in the WordPress customizer. It's the perfect fit for you or your agency. Go to WP dash page builder framework.com today and we do thank our sponsors for their support of the WP Builds podcast. It certainly helps us to keep it going.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:08 Okay, before we get stuck into it, let me tell you a little bit about today's episode. It is with Jan Koch and today we're talking about speeding up your WordPress website. The Post today is entitled make your WordPress website load faster with the Hancock. And we talk about all of the things which you could do, which he has done to make his WordPress websites go faster. Some of it will be obvious, some of it less obvious, but we cover topics like hosting using a minimal theme, caching, how to order the things in the cash, all sorts of different options. We go on to image optimization as well towards the end. So if that is something which you think is important, if you would like to offer that to your clients and you want to be an authority on that, check out today's episode. I really hope you enjoy it.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:54 Hello there. Welcome to the WP Builds podcast. One small thanks for making it this far today. All the way from Emden. I learned the name of a German town today in Germany. We have Jan Koch. Hello. Hey, thanks for having me. You are very welcome Yan is somebody that I've, um, I've kind of been aware of Jan presence largely I'm in Facebook and then more recently in kind of like other Facebook groups and some of the articles that he's written and um, he's been, he's been brought on today because we're going to talk about, uh, WordPress speed optimizations and how to make your WordPress site, uh, load more quickly. So before we get into that, um, I'm going to ask a fairly generic question, Yam because it's always good to know why we should be listening to somebody and what their experience with WordPress and so on is. So, and I'm just going to ask the very general question. Tell us about your background in WordPress.

Jan Koch: 03:50 Sure thing. Um, I started WordPressor using WordPressin 2012 so I've been playing around with it for quite awhile now. Um, I've became self employed as WordPressdeveloper in 2013 and basically made my living building plugins, building themes and stuff, doing project based freelance work. Recently in the, uh, January this year I joined in German agency as elite developer and put my own business quite a bit up on the side so that I had, um, yeah, my main position basically taken up the usual 40 hour work week and then the free time spending on WP mastery, which is what we are likely going to talk about the most in this interview. Um, yeah. And due to that change, I had to kind of change the business model of WP mastery as well because I didn't have the time to do freelance work anymore. And so I build a team that can deliver WordPress maintenance services and WordPress speed optimization services and yeah, basically for the entire year we focus all our efforts on learning how to make WordPress load fast. And my own website recently became a pretty good example for that because I got it to load within the one second range on average with our 0.6 seconds being the fastest. I've measured it so far.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:15 Wow. Wow. Wow. So it's an, it's an ongoing process. That's probably a good place to start, isn't it? This is not, this isn't a click a button, install a plugin, click a button and you're done.

Jan Koch: 05:25 It's just like blogging. Basically. A blog never gets finished.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:29 Yes. Yeah. So, okay, so fascinating. So we've got the URL of WP build, mastery dot. Um, x, Y, zed. That's probably the place that you should go to. And then if you append to that, uh, forward slash I think we've gone for WP Builds. Did we in the end? Yeah. Yeah. Just something just to make it easier, you're going to end up at a URL, which is make hyphen, WordPress, hyphen, load hyphen, faster hyphen than hyphen one hyphen second. But that's hard to say as I've just demonstrated gum for WP mastery dot. X, Y, zed or z. If you're in America, forward slash WP Builds and you're taken to a very long page that has obviously taken Jan a great deal of thought and time and it's entitled make WordPress a load faster than one second written, um, late 2018. So maybe the best way to do it is to go through your table of contents and outline all of the processes that you would, you would want to go through if you wanted to speed up your website. So should we take number one first. Number one is entitled fast WordPress hosting. I suppose that's fairly obvious, but what is it that we should be looking out for? Uh, when we, when we're going cap in hand to a host?

Jan Koch: 06:40 Uh, yeah, it's a good question. It started this post with the obvious hosting because for one it's the obvious foundation for any WordPress website. And the other reason is that the hosting space is so crowded like we had, um, in our conversation before this recording, there's so many different WordPress hosts with all those different types of technology going on and throwing their marketing millions, ed, everybody and his mother who's using a website. So, um, basically the main essence from that post is that you should stay away from shared hosting. Like Hostgator blue blue host go daddy and so on with those cheap one, two, $3 per month hosting plans because it's just technically the wrong foundation to have a fast loading website like you're sharing the server literally with other websites, the infrastructure off the hosting server itself, like what, what services and what software is in start on the server and how up to date the server is in terms of the versions of PHP and stuff like that or this technical details.

Jan Koch: 07:52 Um, those shared hosting companies don't really put an emphasis on making the websites these sort of lord fast. I would rather go to a whole set a bit more expensive. I'm not talking like $40 per month for a single website, but like are what I recommend in this post is the cloud waste hosting. I host around it. Let me see eight servers with a combined probably 70 websites on cloud ways. Obviously some four clients, some online and with cloud ways. What I found is that it's super easy to adjust a service based on the, on how many visitors you get per month. So website that has 500 visitors per month needs different server resources, then a website that has 500,000 obviously, and you can just scale those servers as you grow. This is what I love the most about cloud ways

Nathan Wrigley: 08:48 we've, um, we've kind of entered a, it feels like it's been over the last couple of years that the emphasis has gone away from the price point and people are more now looking at, you know, what you get for that price point. Although interestingly, the price point is still amazingly aggressive and competitive for, for, for some of the, you know, the, the, the, the companies that you've just mentioned. Um, but yeah, we're looking for things like scalability and so on and so forth. And the, the ease of sort of switching things up and switching things down. Yeah. Um, yeah, it's a completely different space. You know, if you were to go back five years, shared hosting was just the normal and people were talking about, you know, vps, all vps and, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. And then occasionally somebody might have a, you know, dedicated server or something. Whereas now with the way that you've got these containerized solutions, everything is so ridiculous. Easy. I guess it's just a question of going out, looking for, um, the one that suits your needs and finding if they've got, you know, add on services or ways of installing things on those platforms that might make it a little bit easier for you. I know there's a whole bunch of companies that that will, um, do that kind of thing for you as well, so. Okay. Fair enough. Yeah. Don't go for the, the shared hosting would be your advice.

Jan Koch: 10:02 What's also very important when it comes to choosing web posts is that you talk to the chat support beforehand. So in case things go south, you want somebody, um, you feel comfortable talking to. So if the presales support sped, don't expect the aftermarket, say it's support or the support actually in an emergency case to be better. Um, Yep. Yep. Fair enough. That, that's a lesson I learned the hard way when I was on a vacation with my, with my wife. And one of our servers, um, from a client website that was not cloud wares by the German reports went down and we had to wait until 9:00 AM and to support times opened. You get the website back on yeah.

Nathan Wrigley: 10:47 You, oh, I know from bitter experience, the, um, the, the problems of hosting people's websites when you're on holiday in a tent, uh, you get the, get the phone out and tether your laptop to it. Great one. Um, yeah, the, I could, yeah. Well, fair enough. I think they're all good points. So essentially go shop around chat to support, see if they've got your back before you, um, hop on. Yeah, great advice. And,

Jan Koch: 11:15 and see if they ever data center in the location where your target audience lives. So if your readers are in North America, you will want your website to be hosted in the server and North America.

Nathan Wrigley: 11:27 It gets complicated, doesn't it, with things like, you know, CDNs thrown in and all sorts of things. But, um, essentially caveat emptor do, do the research and you very often you'll find that in the, um, in the Facebook groups of WordPress related, um, Facebook groups, this conversation comes up a lot. It tends to be a point of contention when people write to what's the best host. Um, uh, people tend to get a bit annoyed cause that question appears so many times we measures yes, exactly. Yeah. A better way to phrase it is in what, in your experience, what's, what are the criteria I should be looking for in a good WordPress host as opposed to just tell me, tell me the name. Because what you'll find is everybody's got a different opinion on that. Okay. Let's go to the second point of your extraordinarily long and detailed article, which is all about themes and page builders. What's, what's been your experience in this section?

Jan Koch: 12:21 That's also the section in the WordPress field that is prone to change quite rapidly as we've seen in this year with Page builders, like Elementor and stuff like that coming up really, really strong. And I think just a few years ago, I thought I used the theme that's called the Ken from art piece, which has the visual composer page builder. And it was so bloated. I mean, I used it on many, many sites because it just made, made things simple to build and sometimes the clients that you have to work with being a WordPress reading. And so I don't want to pay for a elegant code basically. So they are happy with those themes that load all of these portfolio items and employee custom post types and all this other stuff that they don't ever need. But if as long as you can build a site quickly enough with that theme, they're happy with it.

Jan Koch: 13:21 Um, so they don't have to pay for your time for using a theme that's well built, that's not bloated, not loading much overhead. And with our, I think with this year, what the vast majority of the WordPress market saw was the rise of themes that are very quickly to load. Like my own website is built on the plane genesis framework and then with a thrive architect as the page builder. Okay. Um, you've mentioned your yourself, that you're using beaver builder quite a bit, which also can load quite fast. And I think that's definitely the right move. Now with Gutenberg being a thing, well we looked at the source code of this post, um, that we, that we use to walk through before the call and we saw how flat the Code Structure Actually is with Gutenberg. Yes. So I think it will help to make WordPress sites load quite a bit faster in the future.

Nathan Wrigley: 14:19 It was very flat, actually. The, I was quite surprised. So if you go to a Young's post WP mastery dot x, y, zed forward slash WP build, and then do an inspect on it, you'll notice that there's, there's hardly anything nested inside of anything else. Whereas my experience with all page builders, because of the, the complexity of what they are often trying to achieve a, there's Dave's with endeavors within devs in order to, to make things possible, whereas this is just, well, there's hardly anything.

Jan Koch: 14:49 And you would see those negatives on other page? Yes.

Nathan Wrigley: 14:53 Oh, okay. This page in petite. Oh, that's fascinating. So just on this one, you gave Gutenberg up a go. Yeah. Um, and it seems so, so there we go. That's an interesting point in itself. If you're going to produce a piece of long form content that is just content where you don't need any other fleshy, you know, page like qualities, maybe you don't need sidebars and maybe you don't need things to swoop in from the left and the right and have complicated layouts because this is just text while it's headings in paragraphs with images, uh, occupying the full horizontal, uh, row. Yeah. That, that is really flat isn't it? Very, very cool indeed. And presumably quite quick to write. We've gotten burgers as well.

Jan Koch: 15:34 Yeah, it was actually, it was quite a pleasant surprise on how well you can ride

Nathan Wrigley: 15:39 content in Gutenberg. Yep. Uh, my, my sort of weapons of choice if you like. I, I just, because of history and the fact that I, I use it a lot, I, I tend to use, um, beaverbuilder and on, on top of that I will put, um, I've got a, a predilection for either the beaver builder theme or generate press or Astra. I've played with those ones in particular. Um, and I think a problem that people sometimes find when they're new to WordPress, if anybody is new to WordPressand you come across those themes, you will be beguiled if you go to someone like theme forest because you'll be looking at those websites and thinking, oh yeah, but look what this can do on I install generate press that doesn't have any of that. Well, that's exactly it. Um, you're trying to avoid all of that at all costs and keep it some, you're hitting the nail on the head right there. Yeah. You don't want things swooping and you don't want custom post types and all of that. You can do that yourself later. Yeah.

Jan Koch: 16:37 I think that's a very important aspect to talk about because it's, again, to me what, how I see it is that all those theme creators, what they need to do is they need to market their themes as the best ones possible. And um, the most, uh, the theme that gets the most use cases done probably has the biggest audience the creator can market to. Whereas themes like Astra, GeneratePress, or even genesis themes with their very limited say visual options that you can have, like they don't come with much, it also narrows down the target audience for those themes quite a bit compared to the, let's say average WordPress user who's just trying to run a simple website or a simple blog and to once those flashy elements and doesn't have a design background and does, doesn't see it as a serious business basically, which, which still probably makes up the vast majority of WordPress users. Um, those people tend to fall very easily. Those flushy themes that come with all sorts of options and functions they probably might need like two years down the road. Whereas with themes like January press and then the combination with the, with the beaver builder plugin, it's more work to build those sites and you need to be more skilled in building sites, but the sides, the side quality and the code quality is so much better.

Nathan Wrigley: 18:14 That's right. I mean you've got a team in those cases, you've got two teams that are just a bent on making it as load, as fast as possible. You know, the, the page builder does add something to the, the, the amount of time generate press itself is very, very lean. Um, but you know, if you want the, if you want the features that come with a page builder, like beaver builder elementary or something, you are going to, you are going to take a hit no matter what. But um, yeah. Fascinating. So you're using thrive architect mostly I you that's your weapon of choice.

Jan Koch: 18:46 Yeah. I recently started playing around with a Elementor and Astra on a copy of my own website, but since I got thrive to load so quickly, there's really no need for me to spend time on switching tools currently.

Nathan Wrigley: 19:00 Yeah, I've never really played with it. Is there a reason why you've, is there a feature of it that you found to be a killer or is it just now one of those things where, well, I can't improve upon it in terms of speed, so I might as well just stick with it.

Jan Koch: 19:13 I came to use it because I have been grandfathered in my thrive leads subscription. Okay. I got on with thrive leads very early on and still have an unlimited side license. Right. And so it just made sense for me at some point too to try out thrive bill, thrive architect, I think it was two years ago or something. And um, yeah, just really liked the functionality. I can't say it's much better or worse than other page builders from my experience, but I just, uh, as I said, I'm happy with the loading speed right now.

Nathan Wrigley: 19:47 I think my experience with a lot of page builders is that they, they seem to be coalescing on a similar feature set. Um, and as time goes on, you know, there are one or two things which this one does that that one doesn't do in one or two other, you know, but essentially they're, they're all trying to achieve the same thing and to, uh, to a certain degree, they, they can all achieve it. Um, and my advice is always, you know, if you're happy with one, just become really good with it, learn its quirks, learn its nuances, learn how to do things, and, and then you'll be marketable. You know, you can do things without having to learn all over again. I, I've, I've, it's just not for me anymore, that whole battle of which is better. I'm just kind of a bit over that and I'm, I'm happy with what I've got and I'm going to stick with it.

Nathan Wrigley: 20:31 So, yeah. Oh, 100%. Yeah. So the, so we've done, uh, looking at decent hosting themes and page builders and what have you. Let's talk about cash configuration because I, um, this is an area where I'm, I'm really that I'm not that clever. I don't know an awful lot about it. Certainly from a technical point of view, I know what has worked for me in the past and I've tried various things very often. For me it involves, um, using a plugin perhaps or something like that. I mean, on my own servers I've got a set up which works for me. It's a bit complicated but it does work. What's your, what's your advice here? What's your plugin of choice and what have you tried?

Jan Koch: 21:12 Um, I've tried many things and I've broken more websites than I can count when trying to optimize caching. Um, I think what's most important here is that you get the foundation right with a caching on the server. As you mentioned, you've got your own set up with a reverse proxy beforehand. There's also comes back to the choice of hosting in the first place because the, those um, cloudware servers I'm using, they have multiple layers of server side caching, which in itself speeds up the loading time. And then I have, um, on most websites I personally use, I run the swift performance pro plugin for caching and I've just pulled up the settings page so I can talk through those main items that I have configured. And on the client sites we do for the maintenance, uh, care plans, we use WP rocket as a caching plugin. And again, it's, I think with caching plugins it's similar to page builders. They all do somewhat the same. It's like only so many different variations. You can catch a website, there's only so many screws you can try and turn to get the best configuration for caching. Basically what you try to do with caching is to reduce the amount of server resources used so that the server country's and the website faster to your website visitors.

Nathan Wrigley: 22:44 Um, so for example, um, having played with some of these plugins at various times, are there any that you've decided or a kind of not recommend ones that you've, okay.

Jan Koch: 22:55 Definitely one. The one that's I'm free and I don't recommend is w three total cash. And that's not because it's bad. I think it's a really, really good plug in, but it's, I found it to be very difficult to get it right, to configure it properly. I found that the administrative interfaces with w three total cache are super complicated when compared to those very cheap paid hosting caching plugins. And I think only that the time you save when using a smart smartly designed interface is worth paying. I think this with performance it's like $4 a month or something like that. So it's really not a deal breaker.

Nathan Wrigley: 23:39 Yeah. When you're doing this, what are the, what, is there an order that you do this in? You know, there a, like this is going to be your biggest win with a caching plugin. Cause I know there's like multiple layers of options, but what, what, what order do you or do you try to tackle things in and do you, do you have, so like recommendations in terms of, um, you know, what could break things, what has broken things in the past and, and possible possible problems. Say for example with editing pages or posts, particularly with page builders with caches?

Jan Koch: 24:10 That's a really good question. The first thing I try to do when I set up a cash is I try to reduce the number of requests needed to load a website. So when you use a tool, low gt metrics or Pingdom or whatever, they show you how many resources are loaded when your website gets loaded and I try to get those down to as few as possible. Mostly by merging the Java script Fides and the style sheets they'll, those are two big factors and those are also probably the two things you can do when setting up a cached. It most often break your website. Yes, exactly that. So when I break a website with caching it is because the merging is not configured properly. But what I like about our, the swift performance plugin here is when you install it, it has some sort of visual art that checks what server settings you have and how the page is structured in terms of which scripts are absolutely needed for the theme and for the pregnancy and stuff like that. And then you just tick a box that says merge scripts. And in my case, most oftens with performance pro automatically exclude scripts like Jake, very js that usually should not be merged because they are the foundation of all the other scripts. So that, that is a very handy function.

Nathan Wrigley: 25:40 MMM. Um, I've done this countless times, you know, I'm just experimenting and ticking boxes and, and suddenly out. It just, just doesn't work til, and like you say, it's, it's merging things which, which cannot be merged. Um, in most cases it's a question of on ticking the box and hopefully that will work. But I, I've also had experience where to on ticking the box was still left. Things all mangled. I had to go in and sort of manually fiddle with things. But um, yeah, that, that's the quickest way and isn't it merging things but also fraught with danger. So perhaps do not test any of this on a live production website ever. Um,

Jan Koch: 26:18 if it is at least if you're currently running pay traffic campaigns. Yeah, exactly. I think, sorry to interrupt, but the problem with testing these things is if you have a copy of your website on a different server, they, if you don't have a staging set up on the same server as your life website or on site, those settings might be different. So I found that very hard to test caching when say I have a local copy of the website, I've downloaded the website, installed on my, on my PC and configured the caching there with a different server architecture than it is on the live website. Sometimes you have to go back in and figure things and figure out why things broke that worked on your copy.

Nathan Wrigley: 27:07 That's a really good point. Um, it w hadn't sort of really occurred to me. I do everything on staging environments with the exact same a server architecture. So you know, the, the basic premises, um, if it works on the staging environment, it's going to work when I put push it live. But yeah, good point. If you're developing locally, that could really be different. And I suppose it goes back to the beginning where you were talking about hosting. Maybe those are some questions which you could ask right at the beginning. You know, you've settled on let's say swift or breeze or whichever like WP rocket or rather you could ask support what their experiences with their platform with those plugins, um, and see what the, see what their responses are. Okay. So we've, we managed to, let's say we've managed to successfully um, merge, uh, various things like javascript and so on. What comes next? What, what would next be a good performance related, uh, thing that you could do with those plugins?

Jan Koch: 28:04 Um, the next step would be to set expires centers, which are, can be done without a plugin. If you feel brief and if, if you feel comfortable editing your HD access fire directly on the server, you can set up those rules for making content are expire within one month or something like that. And all that means is that when somebody comes to your website for a second time, the browser still has the website stored in cash. And does the browser can show the website quite a bit faster than if it has to load the website from the server. Again. Hmm. Other things that are really like to do, uh, that come included with swift is image performance, which is probably the second biggest game besides a reducing the number of requests, which is basically uploading the images in the right dimensions at first and then stripping all the unnecessary data from the image files to make the fires themselves as small as possible.

Nathan Wrigley: 29:09 We seem to be in a, a real, uh, this seems like 2018 and 2019 seem to be the year of image optimization with so many services popping up all over the place. I mean, at the moment, the ones that come to mind are, um, there's a WP compress, there's short pixel, there's um, smush and smush pro and there's probably a whole bunch of others. And obviously as you've said, the swift performance plugin comes with that. Um, in inside of the, the, the plugin itself. Do you, um, have you played with any of and found that one was working better than another? For example, I know that I'm like Smush, it uses your resources too to do the compression if that's important and you're paying for those CPU cycles that that could be a thing. Whereas things like, um, uh, WP compress and short pixel, they offload that work to their infrastructure and then then once it's been done, they, they push it back into your media library and so on. Have you, um, you've, you've got an experience of preferring one for a particular reason or do they basically all do the same thing?

Jan Koch: 30:15 From my experience, they basically all do the same thing, but how they work is differently just as you said. Um, I've tested a different service beforehand, which was I think it was kraken dot I o and they also offload the several resources to their own server when processing the images. I think what's very important in this, regardless just to be aware of the settings that you're using when optimizing images. So most of those plugins come in with our lost less compression, for example, where they just drip all the Meta data. Like our camera model usually used to take the picture or the latest Photoshop version edited the picture and stuff like that, which couldn't be more irrelevant. An embedding image on a website. And then they also have a lossy compression methods that reduce image quality but also lead to reasonably smaller file sizes in just as we said in the conversation before this recording at sometimes they get too aggressive and they mess up the image quality quite a bit. So as we said already, I would probably run this on a test site and see how well at least have a backup that you can bring back to restore the original versions of the images before you process all the images on your website.

Nathan Wrigley: 31:38 If the, I know in the case of for example, um, smush that it, it enables you to keep the original copy and obviously if the intention here is WordPressspeed, um, then what you should keep it, why not have, have a backup copy in case the output is, is not suitable and actually depends upon the image itself. I think, you know, if it's a very, um, let's say for example, it's an, it's an image with a huge variety of colors in it with lots of different shapes and what have you, that that is going to look different. Where if it's, you know, if it's flat colors with a bit of text on it or something, that's probably not, and having the option to back out is important. The, the reason I think that smush decided to give you the option to remove the images because they're trying to reduce your overall spend on, um, disc space. But if,

Jan Koch: 32:29 yeah, that's an important topic here. Yeah, yeah.

Nathan Wrigley: 32:33 Um, then the, you know, it's not really related to the speed of the website. It's more related to the amount that you're paying for your, because of the hard disk resources that you using. Um, yeah. I, I've messed up, I messed that up before. Um, and in fact I'm probably gonna have to spend a bit of time this afternoon fixing up a bit of a mess that I've created yesterday for exactly this reason. I think I ticked the wrong box box and I've gone on, um, I've gone and squashed images to within an inch of their lives. And now the, the clarity between it's text on a background and the colors are such that they don't, I don't know what it is, but the, the image optimization didn't work between those two colors so well. And so it's really not looking all that great. So slap on the wrist for me.

Nathan Wrigley: 33:14 So yeah, notice what you doing. Yeah. But stripping out, I'm stripping out all the metadata is a no brainer. Get rid of all that it bears no relationship whatsoever to your website, but then like you say, there's all sorts of ways that they can compress images and you can download things on the Mac. For example, image Optim, I think. Oh, something like that. Image op, I think it's called image optin. He said. Yeah. Um, but I think that's a Mac only thing. And you can basically chuck it in there and it does the same thing before you upload it.

Jan Koch: 33:43 Yeah. You, you can also use a Craig and I. Io has a free web interface. You can use where you can basically drag and drop the image onto their website and download the compressed version. And even when you run your website through gt metrics and they find images that could be optimized, you can download optimized versions directly from those and analysis resorts. Um, I just find, I, I'm a lazy person to be this in that regard at least. So I just find it to be way more comfortable if I can just upload the files to the media library and some service whatsoever takes care of it.

Nathan Wrigley: 34:21 I think also it's because my experience is that 100% of my clients have no idea what's going on with this. And so they'll, they'll happily take a 16 megapixel photograph on their camera, consuming like eight megabytes or something, and they'll load it to the website and, you know, they just sort of expect it to work. So reducing its dimensions significantly, you know, so, I don't know, 1,280 or something like that. Um, and then squashing it so that some of the, uh, the metadata has gone and the image quality is reduced. You in the end, they're gonna thank you for that because their bill will quickly ramp up a, I have an estate agent who, you know, every time they put a custom post on w which is a house or a flat or a property, they're augmenting 20 or 30 pictures per property from all angles, you know, the front of the back door and the car, the garden and all that. And it quickly ramp, I mean really quickly ramps up two gigabytes and gigabytes of data. So in that case that I have enabled it to destroy the original image because the original image is the obstacle and it's going to cost them a fortune.

Jan Koch: 35:30 And then such cases you also want to make sure that the fire or the theme or the page that you're using, it's using the source set attribute. Yes. When embedding images so that the server owned it by the browser rather only loads the image and the right resolution.

Nathan Wrigley: 35:48 Yes. That's a good point. I'd forgotten about that. Um, yeah, WordPress. I did that a little while ago, didn't they? And um, yeah. And so now I think there are some situations if I'm right where that doesn't quite work, you know like certain configurations of mobile phones where things get a bit messed up. But yeah, it's a bit of an edge case.

Jan Koch: 36:05 I've seen it I think with mobile phones and those retinal devices, um, there is a javascript library actually for making WordPress site rating. I already have it as an isn't already. And what you do is you upload the image, say your content size or your contract with his 800 pixel and you want an image to go across those 800 pixel. You would upload it in 800 Pixel and then 1,600 pixel and then append at two x to the image name and then the Java script would automatically load the add two x version on retina screens.

Nathan Wrigley: 36:42 It's amazing isn't it? The complicated nature of everything. Just simple images. Yeah, just based on pixel density off the screen. Actually. I would imagine though that on, for example, your website is, sorry, the, the article that I'm looking at is I'm going to stick my finger in the air and say it's 70% text. So let's say it's 30% of the, the viewport is occupied by images and 70% is occupied by text, but I'll bet that the images take up a hell of a lot more data across the wire than the, than the text does. So very important to look at this if you've got, yeah,

Jan Koch: 37:20 that's why I also have lazy loading on the images.

Nathan Wrigley: 37:22 Yes. Oh, I didn't notice that. I loaded it and then just sort of scrolled randomly through it and by the time I'd got to the end, it was all, yeah, good point. So there's another thing to do and I want them as and when they're needed because what's the point in loading an image that's right down at the bottom of the page that's not being looked at? Yeah, very fair point. My website is so far as that. You didn't notice it on what it is. That's what it is. Yeah. Do you, do you offload your images to know some of the service or is it stuck on your cloud based server?

Jan Koch: 37:52 They are all stuck on my cuff so because I'd rather have them as long as the website loads as fast as it does, I'd rather have them all on my own server and reduce the number of the mains I need to connect to.

Nathan Wrigley: 38:03 Yeah. Again, in much the same way that I feel that images are being like a image optimization is a bit of a thing at the moment. I also feel that we're on the edge of something where potentially, you know, offloading this, that and the other thing to all sorts of cloud based services is going to be a bit of a thing next year with all sorts of plugins popping up to do exactly that. There's a few, if

Jan Koch: 38:24 we, if we can actually talk about that next, if you like one section in that article, uh, about cloudflare, which is just such a service and I actually used them as a content delivery network and I tried to offload all those resources, the aesthetic resources to them. But I found that it actually slowed down the website just because of the calls to and from it was taking longer or was it, what was the reason that you've tracked? Honestly, I've no idea. I just might, might be too stupid to set it up properly, but um, I wasn't able to get to those sub one second loading times with the cloudflare caching are activated. The only thing I use cloudflare for now is the DNS d I found the DNS is pretty fast with outweighs.

Nathan Wrigley: 39:15 Yeah, that's pretty weird. I wonder why that didn't work out for you.

Jan Koch: 39:19 Just I assume it is because they take security quite seriously because their main use case isn't being a CDN but securing websites. So I assume they have some sort of algorithms that process the weak requests and tried to filter out a like a text and stuff like that. Yes. Which might add a second or two to the loading time.

Nathan Wrigley: 39:44 Yeah. There might be some sort of handshake going on between, you know, this, that your website requesting something and AWS or whatever it is, sort of sending packets backwards and forwards. Just confirming who you, I don't really know if that's fascinating because that's always been, um, I've always heard about it in terms of Oh, it's a real benefit. It does really well. I've never, never touched it, but I haven't, I've never heard of anybody not being successful with it. So that's, yeah, that's really interesting. Yeah.

Jan Koch: 40:10 Well what I've noticed is, um, when I use my gt metrics account and I add various locations to test the website from, um, the loading time varies by I want to say 300%. Wow. So when I run the test from London, um, my data center is in Germany because I have to apply to GDPR and stuff like that being based in Germany. Um, I have loading times around 0.6, two maybe 0.9 seconds. Wow. When I run it from the U S I have loading times around 2.1 seconds. Okay. So there might be a use case for a CDN?

Nathan Wrigley: 40:52 Yes. Yeah. Well absolutely. Yeah. So is your, your um, cloudways account? Where physically is that box in Frankfurt Germany and does it do because I don't know anything about cloud wise, do they, they don't have their own CDN or they do or it's a paid ad or something.

Jan Koch: 41:10 They do and it's a quite affordable add on. But I didn't take the time to configure that properly.

Nathan Wrigley: 41:16 Right. So presumably it's something to do with the speed of light and you know, packets of literally firing across the Atlantic to and fro. Because although the distance is tiny, imagine how many and how many hops. It's got to get to, you know, it's got to go out of Frankfurt. It's got to find a, find another route to somewhere else, then has to push it onto another router and then eventually it finds its way over to, you know, North America and then it goes through various other routes and then back again. Yeah.

Jan Koch: 41:42 All right. So it might like, might might be a thing of physical distance.

Nathan Wrigley: 41:45 Yeah. Yeah. I think it probably is. Um, but it, but interestingly like you say, for a very small price, you can, um, you can mitigate that problem and pay cloud ways or whichever hosting company you're working with, a small fee and they'll offload all of your resources to a server closer. Um, so yeah. What's your experiences with, um, with sort of those types of services? Have you ever used them successfully and you know, deployed it to a CDN elsewhere?

Jan Koch: 42:17 Um, I have to use CDNs for clients which work really well. Well, if they have like a really globally distributed audience, that's probably the only use case when I ever touched CDNs. Um, in those cases they help even out those speed test results as I just said. And they tried, uh, they help to make the websites load faster all across the globe. Um, as we, yeah, as we said, it's a difference if you choose a CDN from a provider that is focused on security rather than loading speed itself. Because if you go with the CDN like stack path, I assume you will get faster loading times than if you have the CDN of security, for example, who's focused on WordPress security.

Nathan Wrigley: 43:08 I wondering with all of this stuff, you know, your article has gone that we've gone through all sorts of things, you know, hosting themes, page builders, caching image optimization, um, and then cash, sorry, you know, like a CDN now. Um, I'm wondering if the, if we're doing all of this for the end user or are we primarily doing this for Google? Um, because I, I wonder, you know, your website that you said that there were, you managed to get it down to 0.6 if you're in proximity of Frankfurt, which is, you know, that essentially is you click a button and it's instantly there. To all intents and purposes, that's immediate. I can't, like, I can't, you know, it's the click of a finger. It's nothing, um, 2.1 seconds. It's not the click of a finger, but it's still, there's no way that I would be put off by that. Personally. I would happily give a second 2.1 a site, sorry, 2.1 seconds to load. I'd be alright with that. Um, but I know that Google's not, so are we doing this just for search engine or do we have any data that you know of where people literally are so intolerant of that 2.1 seconds or whatever that they'll go away. Obviously if it goes up to like eight seconds or something, that's ridiculous, you know, really well. But do you think we're, we're pushing this to the nth degree just to satisfy Google? Um,

Jan Koch: 44:32 certainly Google plays a big role in this, in this work. But what I also think is that with the current shift, and I am not trying to get philosophical here, but in the current shift of how people use technology, the attention spends get so much shorter. And if I think about myself and I'm waiting in the line, sit and say when shopping for groceries or something and I'm just trying to check in what's going on on a certain website I like, and that takes like three seconds or four seconds, then it might be better to have that website show up within one second because I just, I'm not intended, I'm not intending to read the full article, but I want to see what I can read when I'm back home, if that makes sense.

Nathan Wrigley: 45:23 Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Um, I think attention spans a dwindling to a, an amazing amount. They, the one site that constantly impresses me with its ability to load an incredible amount of data immediately is the BBC properties. Yeah. Um, over in the UK, the BBC is the, you know, they do the news, they do the, the, all of that stuff. They do programming online and everything and it never ceases to amaze me, you know, even on a completely cleared out cash free browser, if I go to the bbc.co. Dot. UK forward slash newspage it, Bam, everything immediately, all at once. Um, and I, and it's impressive, you know, it's like turning the page of a newspaper. It doesn't load in sections, you know, it's just there it is. So whilst my caveat a minute ago was that, um, that I probably wouldn't bother me. I am deeply impressed though when I see a big site like that loading and obviously if you're a, if you're a news property and people are coming back time and time again, that sort of stacks up doesn't it? And I think you're right. I think especially the younger generation who are used to this technology may, maybe that is, maybe that to two seconds is a bridge too far.

Jan Koch: 46:41 And I, I think you've also touched on a very important point here, which is the perceived quality of a website that loads so fast. Yeah. Yeah. I think that just, um, in terms of user experience, just as you didn't know do marketing probably ABC because the site loads fast. I think that's exactly one of the biggest advantages in having your first website.

Nathan Wrigley: 47:05 Yeah. Just people will be, they'll just view it favorably.

Jan Koch: 47:10 Yeah. It's, it's not a standard yet to have websites load within a second or two.

Nathan Wrigley: 47:14 No, but it's calming. Um, I can see this being a, another topic. So sort of page load speeds and all that. Um, that's really interesting. I, I don't know if we've, if we'd gone through your points, we've gone through most of them. I think the only way

Jan Koch: 47:29 I think that the plugins is the one we skipped, but it's, um, I think plugins are very almost self explanatory with a good reasoning. Like don't use plugins that I don't have dragons installed that you don't use. For example. Um, if you want to go deeper into the topic of optimizing plugins, I would run your website or various pages and posts of your website through tools like gt metrics and see which plugin loads which scripts on which website. Because for example, the contact form seven plugin, which is really popular, I found it to load it's script on websites where I didn't have a contact form

Nathan Wrigley: 48:15 price. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Um, so you're saying check out if a particular plugin loads its uh, its resources into pages where it's got no business loading it's results.

Jan Koch: 48:27 Yeah. If you're serious about speed that that's a big point. Yeah.

Nathan Wrigley: 48:30 Yes. Good point. Do you, um, is there any benefit in people not just deactivating but uninstalling? Um, particular plug? I know from a security point of view, but there's, I've, I've often pondered that I've thought, well I've, I've deactivated it. That's it. I can just leave it there and think I might come back to that as an example. I've been playing around the last couple of days with image optimization plugins and I've just disabled this and think I'll come back to it later because it's gone. It's not loading anything. It can't be doing anything. That's right, isn't it?

Jan Koch: 49:01 I think it depends on the plugin itself. I don't think that I'm, there is a global rule that uninstalling is better than the activating those some plugins. I hope that's the majority. What I am not sure when you uninstalled them, they should also clean up the database after them and to lead the files properly. Like with image optimization plugins for example, maybe they still have some sort of cash files just to load those images. Yes. And if you activate them, those cash fights might be so present on the server, whereas when you unload them, you, uh, when you uninstalled the plugin, you get the option to delete those files.

Nathan Wrigley: 49:41 That's exactly why I've done it in this particular case, because I'd spent a long time configuring the options and I was just trying out a different solution and I thought, well, I can't be bothered to do those options. I know it's in the database. So yeah, it's an interesting point. Yeah. Fascinating subject, I think. I think this is going to be, uh, a growth area in the next couple of years. Um, and thanks for coming on and chatting to us about today. It's really interesting. So Yan can be found at WP mastery dot x, y, zed or x, y, z. And if you want to read this particular long post, which is sort of probably getting on for multiple thousands of words, um, yeah, yeah. It's a, it's WP mastery dot. X y zed forward slash WP Builds. Just before we finish, I always give everybody a bit of a chance to tell, tell the audience about them, you know, their Twitter handle, anything Facebook group that they've got or whatever. So over to you for a couple of minutes.

Jan Koch: 50:34 Thank you so much. Um, yeah, you can reach me on Twitter at iamjankoch. That's the official Twitter handle. I run a Facebook group that's called, I use WordPressif you want to join and get some direct information. Um, other than that, what I do on WP mastery mostly is sharing content on how to configure your WordPress site properly. Obviously since we are an agency providing services in maintenance, in speed optimization and basically handling your entire website for you. We've got plenty of experience that bay got four good articles like the one we just walked through. So I would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Nathan Wrigley: 51:14 Thank you. That's great. Um, yeah, thanks for coming on and thanks to anybody who's listened, reach out to Jan if you've got any further questions, but for today, thank you. Yeah.

Jan Koch: 51:24 Thanks for having me, Nathan.

Nathan Wrigley: 51:26 Well, there you go. I hope you got something out of today's episode and Yang Cock was able to deliver some interesting and informative information about speeding up your WordPress website. I certainly learned a lot. There was quite a few nuggets in there that I wasn't familiar with and I should be implementing those suggestions going forwards. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness. WP and ops supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship events, training and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org forward slash. Give. Okay. I hope you can join us next week. Next Thursday we'll be putting another podcast episode out. Also on a Monday we give out our WordPress weekly news. We do an audio version as well as an email, and you can look at the, the body of the, the podcast to find out what the articles are that we're talking about, but also in case you didn't know at 2:00 PM on a Monday, UK time, we also have a live episode in our Facebook group, WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook and there you can join me and some special guests as we talk about the WordPress news and you can join us eve and comment, and it's marvelous.

Nathan Wrigley: 52:45 It's becoming a very, very friendly and interesting, interesting part of my Monday. Right. That's it for the WP Builds podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. Bye. Bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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