Case Study

Mulderrigs

The client needed a performance audit to improve bounce rate and SEO for a successful legal compensation website.

Original Brief:

Optimisation of the website www.mulderrigs.co.uk so that the mobile speed rating (as checked through the Google speed checker tool) improves and the desktop maintains or improves.

Testing

The site was checked using Google PageSpeed Insights, GT Metrix and WebPageTest. GT Metrix is generally a more accurate and useful real-world reference and so most of the page scores focused around this test. The site was scoring D (56%) for PageSpeed and E (56%) for YSlow, with a fully loaded time of 2.8s, a total page size of 1.82mb and 130 requests. Checking the waterfall it was clear that many assets were blocking render / paint, and ‘time to first paint’ was also particularly slow.

Some of Google’s (and others’) suggestions relate to features that currently only work in Chrome or are not feasible unless beginning a project from scratch and having complete control over the code at every step (eg, leverage sprites, Leverage the font-display CSS feature). This reflects in the page speeds after optimisation not always reaching A rating or 100%, especially for YSlow. However, a look at this table gives a snapshot of the improvements. These key statistics have the most impact on how a page loads, especially on mobile.

Mulderrigs performance audit case study
Mulderrigs performance audit case study

The Chrome testing app is however very useful. The Chrome Audit tab in network tools is another way of looking at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/ with a couple more options like throttling to 3G, which gives a good emulation of real-world performance at slow network speeds.

Overview

The site suffered from a combination of a poorly coded theme, multiple stylesheets that had accreted, plugin overload (many active plugins competing for the same optimisation tasks) and multiple video embeds. As a result page speed was very slow, especially on mobile.

The main issues with the homepage were direct youtube video embeds and heavy facebook assets being unnecessarily loaded. The site had  ‘ShareThis’ plugin installed which was not being used and did not function properly. Removing that plugin and some unnecessary assets included in the footer.php led to a visible increase in responsiveness of the page load straight away.

 

What multiple YouTube embeds looks like to a browser

youtube render blocking

Other site improvements added included:

  • The YouTube video (included as an ACF custom field) was replaced with a simple Javascript to call the YouTube assets (mainly base.js) and create the iframe on click, saving around 600kb.
  • Several lazy load and optimisation plugins were installed and active, but poorly optimised. These were replaced with one solution that allows selective inclusion of scripts and styles on a per page basis.
  • HTTP/2 prefetch used for most important CSS
  • A PHP helper function was added to allow ACF fields to generate adaptive images using srcset
  • Alt tags were added to images and rel=“noopener” was added to target=“_blank” for footer links, improving security
  • An abandoned Cookie Notice plugin was returning a console error and was replaced with GDPR Cookie Consent
  • Expires headers added to the htaccess file for effective caching

Homepage

After the performance audit the GT Metrix page score increased significantly to A (95%). YSlow increased to D (67%), page load to 2.4s, page size trimmed to 606kb and requests cut to 49. The perceptual page load increased significantly. While not perfect, the scores illustrate a dramatic increase and a realistic target given the underlying theme was not in scope or budget to be overhauled.

Before optimisation

GT Metrix Page Score - Mulderrigs homepage (before optimisation)
GT Metrix Page Score – Mulderrigs homepage (before optimisation)

After optimisation

GT Metrix Page Score - Mulderrigs homepage (after optimisation)
GT Metrix Page Score – Mulderrigs homepage (after optimisation)

Service page

After optimisation

Claims page

The main claims page had similar performance issues to the homepage

Before optimisation

GT Metrix Page Score - Mulderrigs claims page (before optimisation)

After optimisation

After performance enhancements, and a 95% score on Google PageSpeed Insights.
GT Metrix Page Score - Mulderrigs homepage (after optimisation)
GT Metrix Page Score – Mulderrigs homepage (after optimisation)

You can download the client pdf report here: Mulderrigs Page Speed

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