Page speed indicator

Practical Learning : Smushing Your Site & GTMetrics

I like experiments.

This is just as well as digital marketing is all about being experimental and so are we at Brighton Digital Women.

We talk a lot about theory and wellbeing for people in digital marketing but we’ve just started to introduce some more practical and experimental content into what we’re doing.

That’s why this very morn, I decided to check our site performance on GTMetrix. I was a little shocked at what I found…

GTMetrix first round
GTMetrix first round 🙁

Oh my god we’re failing basic internets!

It’s embarrassing that we hadn’t looked into the technical SEO performance of the site until now. I feel this is sometimes a common case for those who provide SEO services and/or teaching. My second favorite part of SEO is being like a doctor and getting to the point where you can make a diagnosis, prognosis and plan of treatment. My first favorite part is fixing!

What I’ve been doing this morning isn’t hard. That’s the beauty of WordPress.

How did I get the site to a GTMetrix ‘B’ grade & in 1.5 hours?

  1. Identify your goals
    Mine were simple. Speed up the site, reduce the amount of requests and make the site lighter and, of course, get to an ‘A’ grade
  2. Source the right plugins
    I am no tech wizard/witch so I needed plugins to help me in my quest for a super light site. It’s important to read reviews of the plugins, make sure the plugin/s are updated regularly and compatible with your version of WordPress. Open Source is awesome but it means that plugins can become unsupported. PLEASE make sure you choose legit plugins.
  3. Make a backup of your site
  4. Test in your staging site (I didn’t do this but nothing when wrong so….phew)
  5. Take it slow.
    I started ‘smushing’ batches of 50 images. Optimising by a small amount each time then retesting in GTMetrics was 1. A nerds delight and 2. Seeing the positive impact of what you’re doing in real time is really exciting!

 

The Results

The very first thing I did was minify CSS, JS and enable gzip compression through WP Fastest Cache. This was before any image optimsaton or smushings. The second round of testing in GTMetrics pulled up our stats. A FULL SECOND had come off our load time!

gtmetrix second round after minifying and cache
GTMetrix second round after minifying and fast cache settings

After this I started having at the image on the site with WP Smush.

At 25% of optimised images through using WP Smush, GTMetrics report showed this…

gtmetrix 25 percent of images optimised
4th Test in GTMetrics after 25% of images were optimised

At 100% of images smushed like a smushy smush my brain started to scramble and we got the following verdict…

gtmetrix 100 percent of images optimised
100% of images and files optimsed through WP Smush

(Confession: Our YSlow score was still shitty so I had a look into it and it turned out I wasn’t defining the size for the images in our homepage header banner. So I used the snipping tool to take a screenshot and uploaded it as one defined image and that brought our YSlow score up to what you see above. It was previously a D grade.)

A cool thing WP Smush also does is tell you (in the free version) what images are too big for it to optimise without upgrading to the paid version. So this means you can just hunt them down in your media gallery and deleted them or go to offsite tool like compressjpeg.com and do it there and re upload, deleting the bigger file.

Make sure there are no pages or posts or open graph social info dependent on those images NOT being deleted forever!

WP Smush skipped

It is exciting that you can have such an epic impact on your site in such a short and FREE amount of time. I optimised nearly 2000 files and images in the space of an hour which has had a noticeable effect on the performance of our website. And no impact to the quality of our images!

Plugins I Used*

*other plugins are available and I didn’t get paid or nuffin’ for using them for this experiment and post.


I'm the founder of Brighton Digital Women and love being able to develop my knowledge by collaborating with other digital Brightonians. I'm a rare born and bred Brightonian and will NEVER leave! I love to be an active part of Brightons wonderful culture, in particular The Great Escape, Brighton Digital Festival and enjoying a flat white in The Laines whilst listening to the melodic stylings of the birdy whistle man.

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