Sometimes, when we’re new to building wordpress sites, we can get a little overzealous when it comes to plugins. There is an enormous collection of free software out there, and we want it. We want all of it. We aren’t even sure what we are going to do with it, but we know we need it. We don’t realize that making our site too heavy, and too slow to actually be a good tool for us to grow our business. Too much dead weight can effectively slow down our website to the point where it is totally unusable, and a liability.
I was recently hired to do a redesign. Her main priority was that her site was not mobile responsive, and she needed it to be. She was also concerned that it was loading very slowly. Her site was out of date, and clearly hadn’t been cared for or maintained in quite some time.
The wordpress software itself was version 4.4, and 11 of the 36 installed plugins also needed to be updated. Yes, 36.
When I see something like this, the first thing I do is run the Plugin Performance Profiler, or P3. This plugin scans all of your plugins, and among other things, tells you which plugins are having the greatest effect on load time. You can then start make informed decisions, weighing the pros and cons of certain pieces of software.
Scanning the site was eye opening. There was one plugin that was responsible for 60% of the page load time, and 11 queries. It was a plugin for custom sidebars, which is great, because we certainly weren’t going to need that in the redesign. Looking a little deeper, it turns out that the current website wasn’t even using it. There were no extra custom sidebars on the site at all. Her website was slow to the point of being broken, and for no reason whatsoever. All because someone thought that it might be cool to have custom sidebars, maybe sometime in the future.
We deleted the plugin, and page load time was fractionalized. I’ve included before and after screenshots, so you can take a loot. I’ve also included a picture of the p3 scan of this site. I don’t have any plugins loaded except for the ones that the developer included with the theme, Yoast SEO, and Jetpack. The theme is simple, and light, and does everything I need it to. You’ll see that Jetpack registers as loading very slowly, but it’s not a true measurement, Jetpack and P3 don’t exactly communicate perfectly. But that is a topic for another blog.
Anyhow, the site wasn’t done there. There was lots more work to do. But I wanted you to see the effect one plugin can potentially have. It doesn’t have to be this way. Use the P3 plugin to see what’s what. Or call me, I’ll do an audit of your site.