Firstly lets define a few parameters for this discussion.
- Speed isn’t EVERYTHING. There is always a trade off between beauty and speed.
- Google PageSpeed Insights is the tool we are use most often.
- We define “Fast” as above average – you dont need your site to be the fastest ever, but there is NO valid reason for it to be slower than the average.
- We are talking about WordPress and other Mainstream CMS platforms.
Lets break down the main elements that effect your site’s speed.
Content – the site itself may be blazing fast but if you load large images and/or video on a page it will impact your speed. Optimise your images and/or make sure the CMS is capable of doing a good job of this. Use a CDN where possible and ensure that you have great hosting. As you take ownership of the site and manage the content directly this will be an ongoing effort as it is all too easy to skip these tasks and check in the battle to publish content in a timely and efficient manner.
Hosting/platform – There is great value in good hosting set up for many reasons and speed is one. A datacenter physically close to your audience DOES make a difference and a CDN for assets is also a big boost. If you are running your site on a SAAS platform (Wix, Sqaurespace, Shopify etc ) then you are totally at the mercy of their infrastructure. Dont get us wrong, its great but it is a one size fits all kinda deal. If you need things to be REAL FAST then you could go for a full static HTML website
Site Build – In basic terms this is the code that is running behind the scenes. If it is all hand written and can thus be optimised you are in total control here. If you are on a SAAS CMS then you have little to no control at all. WordPress and other open source CMS’s are somewhere in the middle. The core code of WordPress is not something you should tinker with but if you avoid off the shelf themes and third party plugins and gain huge speed boosts. For any custom code your write you will need a living breathing web developer but you are control of that code and often your customisations are the core of your website.
If you are building a WordPress site and have a decent budget there is NO reason for your agency/web developer to foist a third party theme upon you. The only gain is to their margin and all the downside is your speed and your ROI. Ask hard questions about what theme/plugins they will use. If they want to use a SAAS platform ask why? Read reviews and understand the pros and cons of at least a few of your options.
Remember that usually you are being sold what the Agency is good at and NOT necessarily the best option for your project.
If you are building a site now ensure that your web developers agree to a sensible speed benchmark and if they can’t deliver then do not accept the final project. (Over December 2020 and Jan 2021 VA are redeveloping websites with original 4 figure budgets that achieved woeful speed scores in the bottom 15% of tests.
If you need your site to perform better then please get in touch – we know how to make beautiful sites that are fast and include some proof of that below