Recently, I’ve had a lot of situations where new clients came to me asking if I can speed up their website.

It’s becoming more obvious to businesses with poorly developed websites that there is also a downside. That downside is Google Ranking. Knowledgeable SEO or Online Marketing Agencies have been telling this for years. Nevertheless, small, medium and even larger companies have failed to tackle this problem by it’s root.

And then I come in, trying to fix the holes in an already sinking ship.

The main problem I see, is that generally, a vast majority of companies do not take their “IT department” serious. They believe, a website and or web application can be developed by anyone. I don’t want to go further into this, I can write another book about this. But it results in websites or applications that have huge inefficiencies and have not been thought through totally.

Let’s take a simple, one-page, website. Client wants a website, and they heard it’s cheap to do in it WordPress, someone told them anyone can do it. Plenty of tutorials online they say. A freelancer or small agency sets up hosting, wordpress theme, some plugins, and adds the content. That’s it, right? We are talking about small budgets, and agencies and freelancers run through those projects like they are on a manufacturing line. In and out, as soon as they can. It’s a competitive industry.

The client is happy, he can administer his content easily with common page builders (drag and drop interfaces). The truth is, there are many more easier ways to handle a one-page website.

This one-page website, has no need for 90% of WordPress abilities. There are no pages, there is no blog, there are no special roles or management levels needed. Besides that, a lot of the plugin and theme functionality are also for a greater part left unused. Themes includes endless of scripts for display reasons, because themes are built for a huge audience, it has something for everyone.

The website that was developed doesn’t fit at all with the need that exists from the client. On top of that, the client will be harassed with wordpress / plugin / theme updates to keep it’s site running.

Otherwise, it will become even slower. Also, the client notices that the SEO page ranking is far from optimal. The sites loads over 100 requests, doesn’t have optimized images, all the scripts are render blocking (they are required to load the page), and in overall the site loads over 3 seconds. The client ofcourse, wonders, why? Because it’s merely a one-page site with some content and images. And that’s where the problem is.

Expectations. There is a total mismatch with the client’s expectation and what was delivered. Yes, the client wanted a WordPress site because all the cool kids have it. You can read about matching expectations and consulting upfront in a later article of mine. It’s a totally different topic.

To come back to the speed optimization, now, I have to come in and tell the client that the previous team or freelancer didn’t really care about creating a good end result. And now they want to solve it, in the same way that it was built. In a dirty way, without care of the end result. So, we end up installing another bunch of plugins, scripts and libraries to optimize the site. Hell yea. This seems endless. Making the site even harder to maintain and causing things to break in the near future without clue or reason why.

This is a sleeping volcano. And for sure, nobody will be there to rescue the villagers and houses.

This is very typical, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times. The ideal solution is to properly rebuild it, but no client would want this. And why would you do it better?

So what do I do different, am I also solving it in a different way, or am I pretending to? When optimizing sites I employ the most basic tactics. No heavy plugins that overload the database and add 100.000 extra lines of code but promise to optimize the whole site. No plugin for every solution. Deferring Javascript? We have plugin for that! Removing Query strings? We have a plugin for that!

There is nothing wrong with a simple plugin, but you have to be sure it’s simple and not built to put a satellite into space. So check the code of a plugin developer. Run a profiler on all your plugins, before installing it, and see if it’s affecting loading times. Is he queuing 300 scripts just to lazyload images?

Don’t take anything for granted. Research and ask questions. Go for minimalistic, lightweight solutions. In the long run, this will save a lot of time and hassle for your client and making you the go to person for development needs.

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