Evergreen Backcountry Guides – Site Speed Optimisation

evergreen backcountry guides page speed after optimization

Loading time seconds

More than a 500% speed increase

When you purchase web design and development in general, site and page speed is not really considered as a major factor. Obviously a pig of a site that takes forever to load will cause issues, but if it loads “alright” most people won’t think twice.

I built the Evergreen Site, so I knew that fundamentals were followed – well-optimized images, a solid stable theme and so on. You can read about the SEO Web Design of the site here. It’s built in WordPress and on a shared hosting plan with Hostmonster, so I didn’t expect the fastest site, but I didn’t expect it to be too slow either.

The home page for Evergreen Backcountry Guides has a hero image at the top, embedded video, several background images and some plugins like Facebook and Tripadvisor. While that is probably a heavy load, it is pretty standard for a lot of websites out there, so it’s a good indication of what is likely with a standard setup.

You can see the homepage here in an extended screenshot (opens in a new tab).

The Initial Page Speed Test

A test was done on the homepage using GT Metrix. The scores shown below are the best of 5.

An important point to make is that the thing to look at here isn’t the score, it’s the speed. We want to get the page load time as low as possible, and that’s the value we’re looking at here.

As you can see below the initial result (best of 5 tests) is below average. My goal is to get sites loading a lot faster than this.

The GT Metrix speed performance report for Evergreen Backcountry Guides prior to optimization

WP Site Speed Optimisation Steps

In order, I did the following:

  • Optimized Embedded Videos (instead of the Youtube video box in the page, there is an image. Clicking the image loads the video in a lightbox. It avoids the video loading and slowing down page load time).
  • Set Expires Headers to cache static content (involves adding code to the .htaccess field in the website root)
  • Added the “Remove query strings from static resources” free plugin.
  • Set up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) using CloudFlare to manage DNS (a CDN serves your files from servers located close to your users and can improve speed), and optimized settings.
  • Set up caching using WP Fastest Cache (free WordPress plugin).
  • Setup Autoptimize (free WordPress plugin) and optimized settings.
  • Installed WP Smush plugin and further optimised images. All were under 100 KB, but this still shaved off another 1.0 MB.

Speed Test Following Optimisation

The steps above resulted in the speed increasing from 6.1 seconds to 1.3 seconds (best of 5 tests). Anything less than 2 seconds and you’re pretty much in the top 10% of websites around the world…I think we can be happy with that.

The GT Metrix speed performance report for Evergreen Backcountry Guides with a page load time of 1.3 seconds

Interested in working with me?

Flick me through your name and email and I’ll get in touch soon.