At work I was asked to provide advice on WordPress hosting. As we don’t have in-house LAMP-experience and as I didn’t want to have to take care of server operations myself (been there, done that), I decided to look into WordPress as a service solutions. To make things a tad more complicated, hosting had to be in a European data-center as we wanted optimal performance for our local customers and as our Privacy Officer requires all company data to be in Europe.
I contacted several US companies, but eventually Flywheel came out on top; they confirmed they could host in Europe (Amsterdam), seemed pretty eager, had a great package and they could provide me with a test-account to play around with their solution. And so I did; I set up a stock WordPress 3.9.x with Autoptimize and WP YouTube Lyte (call me prejudiced, but I like my own plugins), imported a bunch of posts from this blog and had WebPageTest be the judge.
0.120s until first byte, 0.292s start render and 0.457s doc complete? Sweet! So yeah, given those numbers, their offering and the fact they can deploy to a datacenter in Europe I do think Flywheel is a great choice for those who are looking for WordPress-as-a-service (well, PAAS really) solution!
This is why I’m a big fan of good mobile websites; the normal BBC Sport Formula 1 page loads in 6 seconds, where the mobile version loads in a mere 2 seconds (when over cable, DSL and 3G are off course slower). Same content, less clutter and based on progressive enhancement for ultimate responsiveness (from low-end phone on a mobile data network to a tablet on WiFi). Guess which site I use on all my devices (smartphone, netbook, the family tablet and my work laptop)?
The details, for both document complete and fully loaded (between round brackets) as seen from the Brussels webpagetest.org node using IE9 and the cable-bandwidth profile;
The conclusion is simple; don’t assume that just adding some mediaqueries will make your dog-slow site truly mobile-ready. It’s 2013 and websites should be lean and mean, but most of them still remain way too fat for our smartphones.
WordPress 3.5 was released a couple of days ago, one of the new features being a completely new theme. Twenty Twelve, as it is called, is a responsive, html5-based theme which is just clear, simple and beautiful. I like it that much, actually, that after 5 years with Journalist, I’m considering switching to Twenty Twelve for my blog.
But as with all things web (images, social sharing widgets, fonts, themes and plugins/ modules) there’s a potential performance-cost. Some themes by default come with heavy background-images, jquery and jquery-plugins, and a handful of webfonts to download. So let’s look into Twenty Twelve’s performance, shall we?
Wow, that’s pretty sad, no? The reason for this performance-hit; Twenty Twelve comes with Google webfonts, causing 5 downloads (1 CSS file and 4 font-files) totaling over 124KB of webfont-fatness. I’m not a big fan of webfonts, so I dove into the code to disable them and the results all of a sudden are a lot more pleasing:
Doing Web Performance can be so easy, really! I was asked to do a performance analysis of a new website and one of the things I didn’t like was the fact that the footer contained social media sharing buttons using the ShareThis widget. I’m not a fan of sharing widgets in general, as they tend to slow webpage loading and rendering down and as they almost invariably come with “3rd party tracking” for behavioral marketing purposes.
Conclusion: if performance is of any importance for your website (and it should be), you really have to avoid using 3rd party widgetery!