Despite the Warnings – Even Big Companies Fail the Speed Test.


THE START

Last week, I was testing Browserweb’s mobile website for page speed.

The desktop loaded in just under 9 seconds and the mobile in just over 18s.  I was horrified.  Both websites use WordPress CMS, as I like to use the same platform that most clients are using.  Both websites utilize the same theme, the main difference is the mobile layout, so that it renders perfectly on mobile devices.

I scratched my head.  I thought ok, maybe it’s page size, maybe I’ve missed something.

THE DRIFTING EXPERIENCE

 I’d been testing some plugins and provider offerings so maybe that was an issue.  Indeed, after research, one of these new plugins was a major issue. It’s the onboarding chat messenger by Drift.com. I had been testing it out and it added over 6s to the page time, massive. I pinged the guys at Drift and they acknowledged there was some caching issues but claimed it was minimal as the page loaded asynchronously. I alerted them that was not the case with WordPress. I removed Drift and my page speed immediately gained a 6s benefit with the desktop down to just under 5 secs and mobile to 12s.

THE COMPARISON

With that improvement in hand, it was a positive sign.  I then thought about “the big guys” and companies I know should have wonderful mobile page speed.  I could review their page code and see if there were any tips under the hood as it were.

HUBSPOT’S IN A SPOT OF BOTHER

First, I trundled over to Hubspot.com.  Here’s my test results.

Hubspot Mobile Page Speed

Well that was rather a shock to say the least.  I’m sure Hubspot has a dedicated team on their website.  So I thought perhaps its a new design.  I pulled up Way Back Machine and started a few months back, looking at July 11…same design exactly…back to Jan 1, 2016, different images, same design.  So it’s most definitely not a new design and timing issue, they’ve had many months to address the page speed issues on both desktop and mobile.

GOOGLE NEEDS TO RETHINK

That made me think, okay, let’s go to google, they are beating the drum about AMP page design and page speed.  I chose their insights and web trends website at ThinkWithGoogle.com and holy guacamole if I wasn’t sitting down I’d have been on the floor.  Here’s the screenshot from Google.

Hubspot Mobile Page Speed
Digital Marketing Consultants

THE MAJOR FACTORS AFFECTING PAGE SPEED

You can spend countless hrs optimizing a website for page speed. However, you can help yourselves fairly easily by following these top 5 key tips;

  1. Optimize your images by compressing them and ensuring the dimensions are correctly specified when you upload and place them in your pages and posts.
  2. Use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or Super Cache or similar.
  3. Configure a CDN with your caching plugin. Note, AWS just released a newsletter stating they now have https2 support, which is great and long overdue.
  4. Make sure your .htaccess file has the required expiry dates set.
  5. Check your plugins and make sure none are bloated, like Drift, creating a major issue with your page speed. Disable and/or delete unwanted plugins.

THE NEW MOBILE PAGE SPEED LOAD TIME

After reviewing the layout and plugins on the mobile website, I did some redesigns and tweaking to accommodate a faster load time throughout the website.  The final home page speed is shown below:

Browserweb Mobile Page Speed

THE KEY TAKE AWAYS

Fortunately, we all make human mistakes in this robotic, bot-driven, tech-world to be.  That’s fine in my book. I’m glad Hubspot and Google are not perfect as neither am I.

Page optimization as you can see, is on a “per page” basis, so don’t forget for organic placement, google likes consistency.  Serving some pages with optimized images and others not may mean the difference as to whether that page shows on the first page of google for it’s targeted audience.  There is an array of factors which earn or deduct points – from content, to page speed.  So don’t just optimize the home page, you need to rinse and repeat for the whole website. Once that’s done, just remember to keep optimizing as you write each post or page and you’ll be whizzing along!

As a design agency, I initially went down the AMP or “minimal” design thought process.  AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages – designed as it says to accelerate the page load time.  Now I want to strike a balance, one that gives my business the opportunity to show some creative flair.  Images and visual interactive elements help that goal.  It can also be best achieved with a dedicated mobile website like Browserweb has chosen.

THE FUTURE

Right around the corner, AMP and pre-loading pages will be available as open source and premium offerings. In the interim, I’ll stick with optimizing WordPress themes for desktop and mobile using clever techniques – they call it common sense.  As I always say, be a leader for your Brand, not a follower and you’ll be setup for success.

Remember, if you need assistance feel free to #sayhello (@browserweb on twitter) or email me personally if you have any questions or comments.

Cheers

Mark Burke
Browserweb.com, a Digital Media Company

2016-12-12T03:27:46+00:00