Screaming Performance

steveclason-pagespeedThe theme used on this site, “SwingYourPartner” (that’s what popped into my head) was built to maximize page performance. The screen-shot shows the current score on Page Speed Insights. The two Font Awesome files mentioned as things to improve are served by the CDN without expiration directives in the header, and although I could work around that by serving local copies, the advantages of the CDN outweigh the Page Speed Insights ‘score’, to my mind, because the site is fast, loading in about 2 seconds.(read more )

Override Header Layout in Avada Child Theme

I was recently asked to add a button in the header of an Avada child-theme and was surprised when a search turned up no advice. It’s not hard but takes a little digging so I’m posting this in case it might help someone in the same situation.

Avada has six header layout options, selectable from the WordPress Dashboard via “Avada > Theme Options > Header > Header Content”:

These options map to files at “/wp-content/themes/Avada/templates”. You can override the Avada templates by creating your own in a “templates” sub-directory of your child-theme folder and copying a code block containing the action hook from “/wp-content/themes/Avada/templates/header.php” to your child-theme’s “functions.php”.

The local (child-theme) function will be called first at action-time, so the default Avada function will never be called and the local template will be loaded rather than the one in the Avada folder.

There’s a more detailed Gist at GitHub

Web Performance Improvement

page-speed[Note: there’s a new theme and other performance-related changes since this was written. A lot here is still relevant but you might also have a look here.]

A while back I noticed this site had cratered from a once-perfect Page Speed Insights score to an embarrassing 59. It took a few hours of work but I got it up to a score of 91 — more importantly, because that’s just a number, I’ve improved the actual page speed as much as I can. The things bogging me down now, and they’re not bogging very much, are out of my control unless I want to stop using Google Analytics or Jetpack for WordPress, both of which are worth a few additional milliseconds of load speed.

The only other issue is server response time. This site is hosted on GoDaddy, so what can I say — it is what it is.

Here’s more-or-less what I did and the plugins that helped:

WP Super Cache and EWWW Image Optimizer don’t require configuration and can just be installed and activated and your performance will improve. The other two can break a site — you should know what you’re doing and be prepared for some effort. Back up your site before trying them.

Accelerated Mobile Pages and WordPress

Everybody knows by now that a website’s speed matters a lot. (In case you don’t, read this: Case study: Mobile pages that are 1 second faster experience up to 27% increase in conversion rate.) Google stays in front of the effort to speed things up, motivating site owners by making page load speed a factor in their search ranking algorithm, most importantly, but also by providing tools and tips for developers, like Page Speed Insights and “mobile friendly” testing — not to mention the performance tools in Chrome’s excellent developer

Accelerated Mobile Pages is one of Google’s newest performance-related initiatives (from early October 2015, here’s the launch announcement), promising a systematic rather than a piecemeal improvement in performance by defining and enforcing a rigid structure for the content with constrained embellishment. The open-source initiative is loose in the wild (here and here), though uncommon. and pages built accordingly are expected to show up on Google SERPs in early 2016. Sitepoint has a good overview of the initiative.

Not surprisingly, because they were one of the initial partners in the initiative, Automattic (the guys behind has already released a first-cut plugin enabling a WordPress site to produce AMP pages. Called “AMP” (on GitHub) simply enough, it lacks options and features but does take care of business, and is far-enough along and well-enough written that a decent developer can start using it now. It’s implemented on this site — you can view this post in AMP format by visiting [opens in a new tab]. That’s the default look — I haven’t done a thing, though the plugin has plenty of filters to allow some personal expression. Like the RICG responsive image engine, I expect this will roll into the WordPress core before long.

My guess is that this will get a lot of attention once AMP pages start showing up in Google SERPS. Content providers should think about stealing a march on the competition and implementing this soon. It will mostly benefit content providers and won’t affect SEO — or shouldn’t, in theory.