Greg Hluska

Innovative Regina based software developer

Things I've Learned About Web Performance

Number 5 shocked me.

Web performance has been one of my biggest interests for a long time. Over the pandemic, I rewrote most of my testing stack to make performance testing a much bigger part of my own practice and results have been incredible. Not only have I learned a lot, but I’ve come up with an idea for two products. FormImp is close to launch - I came up with the idea debugging performance problems on WordPress sites. And I’m about to launch another tool to really dig into your entire site’s performance - keep an eye on this space for details on when it launches.

Most importantly though, I’ve learned how effective speeding up your website is. So if you sell or promote yourself online and want to start making more money, get in touch via my contact form.

Here are some things I’ve learned. And I wasn’t kidding - #5 shocked me.

Number 1 - Size matters (especially under load)

I knew that as an individual page got bigger, its performance would degrade. But I am still shocked by how quickly the degradation grows as a server gets busier. This is an incredibly important lesson for digital marketers - if your pages are too big, getting too much traffic is going to seriously hurt your conversions. This creates some very complicated situations for digital marketers. Boosting site traffic is a big part of what digital marketers do and it’s terrifying to think that boosting traffic beyond a certain point will degrade performance to a point where conversions suffer. This means a DM can do their job perfectly but lose their entire return on investment.

At this point, I have collected enough data to know that I will never launch anything where individual pages are over 1MB in size. My goal is less than 500KB.

So if you’re struggling with performance, total transfer weight is the very first place to start. What can you remove? Are you using browser caching properly and effectively? If you have one contact form on your page, do you need to load the stylesheet on every page?

Number 2 - Wordpress is fine but many plugins suck

A popular WordPress plugin motivated me to launch Formimp to the public. This particular plugin is an absolute hog on resources - the moment the average user installs it, they start loading a disgusting amount of code on every single page on their websites. There is no need for this - they’re just contact forms and it’s so easy to only load resources when you need them. But I’m not only going to pick on contact form plugins, a lot of WordPress plugins are absolute resource hogs.

I’ve met some very talented WordPress developers but the worst developers build WordPress plugins. If you use WordPress, be really careful.

Number 3 - Digital marketers need to start learning about ops

#3 and #4 are related. But I’m going to start by picking on the DM industry. Honestly folks, you’re inviting a lot of people to a house warming party but your floor is going to cave in when they all show up. It’s as simple as that. Outages cost you a lot of money and way too many sleepless nights, but there is a solution. That solution is dev ops.

Even just learning how to use a monitoring tool like Prometheus would be an excellent investment.

The more you learn, the more money you will make and the more secure your sites will be. It’s as simple as that.

Number 4 - Ops people have to start writing tutorials/introducing tools directly to Digital Marketers

Our side of the industry needs to step up and start working on educational materials and tools to help digital marketers up their ops skills. I know that’s a massive ask but, you know those really annoying “attacks” that are easy enough to stop but annoying as hell?? A lot of those attacks can be traced back to a digital marketer. These attacks all follow the same predictable pattern:

  • website runs on software that has not been updated since the Unix epoch.
  • as the website slows down, the company keeps upgrading their hosting and adding more power.
  • as they add more power, attackers get access to more power.

If the internet is lucky, their host eventually shuts them down but at what cost? Frankly, we can provide a great service to the internet as a whole by just helping people understand the stuff that is basic to us. Our industry has created a world in which digital marketing types have to know basic ops to keep their sites running properly. Yet our industry hasn’t figured out an effective way to get the basics into their hands.

We’ve got to do better.

Number 5 - Small improvements == massive financial returns

Google has access to a lot of data and they know a lot about how people use the web. Something as simple as making sure your entire website’s Loghouse scores are all in green will make an impact on your conversions. You still need good content to rank and a good product to sell, but extremely fast performance makes everything much easier.

Performance optimization is one of the highest ROI tools in my arsenal. I was (and still am) completely shocked to learn that.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, contact me. I love helping people through their website’s performance issues and my services provide an extremely high return on investment.

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