Improving Page Load Time for WordPress

Pingdom Website Speed Test

I have recently been spending some time looking at ways of improving page load time for WordPress websites. This has the twin benefits of improving user experience whilst at the same time improving Google ranking.

In this article I will look at some practical ways in which I am seeking to improve the page load time on this website.

Benchmarking is critical when seeking to bring about measurable, quantifiable improvements in page speed. One possible test model would involve measuring page load speed on a clean default installation of WordPress and then again after adding individual plugins, or replacing templates. However, some results would be more relevant when performed on a site containing a representative sample of content.

This blog, started in 2008 and subject to repeated and prolonged periods of neglect since then, is as good a place to start as any.

WordPress themes that I like

I’m increasingly attracted to the idea of using WordPress as a platform for developing websites which need content management capabilities, but without the degree of complexity that calls for a Joomla imlementation.

I love Joomla, and have been using it since Joomla 1.0, but a number of factors have lately forced me to reconsider it as my de facto content management system. Probably the two biggest factors to contribute to this decision are my disappointment with Virtuemart 2 as an e-Commerce platform and  the complexity of setting up Joomla sites and training users.

The following collection of links, which I intend to add to and use as a reference, are to some of the WordPress themes that I particularly like. Initially they will be mainly design related, as I’m currently in the process of putting together a WordPress site to promote WordPress web design for Shropshire companies.

For me certain themes leap of the screen and feel just right, in terms of design and layout. It seeems I am not alone in this,  so not surprisingly there is a degree of repetition among the themes on the following sites. offer a selection of very clean and stylish WordPress themes – Modern and Minimal in their words – specifically designed with  illustrators, photographers and graphic designers in mind. Many of their designs are responsive (see my article on Responsive web design) and, I have to admit, really quite lovely.

Skeleton is a simple, responsive, mobile-friendly WordPress theme from from Simple Themes, based on the Skeleton boilerplate1.

In a post from June 2012, WPLift highlight 25 free WordPress themes that are particularly suitable for Photographic Portfolio websites. These tend to fall into two catgories – full screen or grid layout. I personally feel that the appeal of both extends far beyong photographic sites, and am considering using one of them in a product showcase site, perhaps using wp-commerce.

The Pinboard free WordPress theme features a responsive layout and an advanced and flexible grid powered by jQuery Masonry that automatically and smoothly adapts to changes to the viewport of your browser.It combines clean and elegant in a very pretty package.

1 For those not familiar with the concept a boilerplate is a standard set of files used to kick-start the development process. The Skeleton boilerplate, for example,  is a small collection of CSS files that can help rapid development of responsive websites. Other boilerplates include the HTML5 boilerplate, a starting project template for HTML5 development that is designed to be adapted to your needs. Similarly, Twitter Bootstrap is a collection of web creation and development tools including HTML and CSS-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, charts, navigation and other interface components, as well as optional JavaScript extensions. Newly released at the time of writing, Joomla 3.0 utilises the Twitter Bootstrap. I hope to blog more on this subject soon.


A(nother) blog is born

I’ve just added a new blog to the website I created for Martin Digby, a friend who runs an outdoor activities company based in North Shropshire. The blog is built upon the latest version of WordPress and utilises a theme based upon the one this site uses. In the case of the Martin Digby blog I’ve increased the width of the page, added a custom background image and incorporated the same Flash header that is used on the main site – all in order to give the new blog the same look and feel as the main website (which is built using the Joomla! platform).

In the course of his work Martin undertakes lots of the kind of activities that I’d love to do for fun, which gives him a rich vein of experiences to blog about. Read more about his adventures at

WordPress Stats

As a new WordPress user one of the first things I did was install the stats plugin. However, I was disappointed at the depth of information that it provides. I was fortunate enough to discover when I first started designing sites almost 4 years ago, and continue to be impressed by the free service they offer. I’ve now installed the Statcounter WordPress plugin on this blog and found it straightforward and simple.

I have investigated Google Analytics and am currently using it on a couple of sites. If you are contemplating running an Adwords advertisement and marketing campaign I would highly recommend it. There are currently over 80 distinct reports, each customizable to some degree, and users can see ad group and keyword performance as part of their reports. The ability it offers users to define and track conversions, or goals, such as sales, lead generation, viewing a specific page, or downloading a particular file undoubtably prove invaluable under certain circumstances, particularly for e-Commerce applications.

For my purposes however, and at this time, Statcounter seems to provide the better solution.

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