How to Make a Website Twice as Fast – a Case Study

Client Overview

The client is one of the largest independently owned networks of orthopedic specialists in the United States, primarily focused within Chicago and its surrounding area. The orthopedic group sports over 100 surgeons and physicians, and is now expanding into Indiana and further away from Chicago. In 2017, a new website was developed on WordPress by a third party and Today’s Business has been contributing SEO and website maintenance support from site launch – on. 

The Challenge

  • Menus were being redesigned, pages were being expanded upon, and new features were being added.  
    • Website became more powerful – and more people were visiting = slow page speed

 By the end of spring, the problems were getting to the point where a drastic solution would be needed. In order to diagnose the problem, Today’s Business’ web development, SEO, and hosting teams conducted an extensive review to identify why the website was experiencing such slow performance. In short, there were too many resources being used, some of which could not be cached (stored away and pre-loaded for faster page speed).

The Solution

  • Create a custom theme
  • Consolidate plugins
  • Remove any unnecessary resources

With approval from the client, Today’s Business expedited rebuilding the backend of the website from the ground up. 

  • Custom plugins consolidated 12 off the shelf plugins
  • Completely overhauled the way the website was coded and loaded in under a month.
  • Maintain all aesthetics and functionality
  • Ensure that each webpage would have the fastest time possible to be interactive, and allow lesser functions to load later. 

The Results

Two weeks after the new website launched, Today’s Business reviewed the real-world results from Google Analytics, not just page speed tools:

Average Page Load Time:How long the page takes to fully load

59.7% improvement – 7.16 seconds to 2.9 seconds

Average Document Content Loaded Time (Not Shown above): Time it takes for content to be fully visible

40.87% improvement – 3.19 seconds to 1.89 seconds

  • This is a crucial stat because this informs on how quickly people can actually start reading.

Average Document Interactive Time (Not Shown Above): How long it takes before the users can be scrolling and engaging with each page.

52.68% improvement – 3.18 seconds 1.51 seconds

  • Another crucial stat, as people are able to start doing things on the website. This sort of instantaneous response is what really helps reduce bounce rate and improve engagement/conversions. 

Avg. Server Response Time

Avg. Page Download Time

Avg. Redirection Time

User Behavior Stats:

Bounce Rate: 14.05% improvement

Pages/Session: 34.47% improvement

Avg. Session Duration: 26.47% improvement

Goal Conversion Rate: 18.64% improvement

Across the board, the project was a success, and also showed just how important page speed is to users. Google has also shared reports on just how important it is as well, particularly for mobile:

Is your website slowing to a crawl? Let’s talk. We can help you diagnose your problems, provide you with your options, and get your website performing better than ever before. Today’s Business is a multi-channel digital marketing agency based out of Pine Brook, New Jersey, with experience working in healthcare, e-commerce, waste management, real estate, brick and mortar retail, and much more.

Why Use a Custom Theme?

WordPress is an open source platform, and many developers have created themes for it to allow for more user friendly development, content management, unique designs, and functionality. WordPress, Squarespace, and other content management systems remove the need to hardcode a website, but they also come at a cost when it comes to page speed. The reason is that standard themes often have a lot of extra code and processes. More code and resources = more data to load every time a new page is navigated to. Plug-ins add on to this issue, especially if they’re not needed but still active. Thus the tradeoff is a website that is easier for people to add to, but harder for servers to load efficiently. For more complex websites with a lot of traffic, the convenience factor is not worth losing customers to a slow page load.

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