Recap: site performance lessons learned at #MVCON19 in Chicago

Recap: site performance lessons learned  at #MVCON19 in Chicago

A couple of weeks ago, Peter and Morgan spent three days in Chicago at the first of two Mediavine conferences this year, which was just as amazing as expected! In addition to connecting with our clients in person, one of our favorite things to do at a conference is site performance health checks for conference attendees.

Although we can only do a limited number of checks, the health checks we did confirmed that the recommendations we’ve been making for years with regards to site performance are still just as relevant today.

Before we dive into those, it’s worth mentioning that Google’s PageSpeed Insights scores change quickly these days. While it’s good to review your score periodically and look for ways to improve it, Lighthouse tests aren’t as black and white as they once seemed. You don’t want to become so focused on your score that you lose sight of things like quality content and audience engagement in pursuit of a perfect score!

However, if you’re concerned about site performance and speed, these are the most common recommendations we end up making during our in-person health checks:

1. Install WP Rocket

We’ve seen performance improvements time and time again with WP Rocket. This premium plugin provides a number of optimizations that are important to Google, including:

  • browser caching
  • CSS, HTML, and JavaScript minification
  • deferred JavaScript loading
  • lazy loading for images and other media
  • CloudFlare integration
  • database cleanup

Most importantly, it does these things well and in a way that can significantly improve your site’s performance. You can read more about our recommended WP Rocket settings here.

We’re happy to configure WP Rocket for Agathon clients. If you’re not sure whether your WP Rocket install has been set up correctly, shoot us an email at, and we’ll check for you!

2. Optimize your images

Optimizing your images can also have a significant impact on your site performance, PageSpeed score, and, ultimately, SEO rankings. There are a few different ways to optimize your images:

  • compress images so that they’re smaller
  • use the WebP image format, which is smaller than PNGs & JPGs
  • use lazy loading to defer offscreen images
  • serve properly sized images

ShortPixel and Imagify can both handle the compression and conversion of your images. You can see our review of both plugins here.

As mentioned above, WP Rocket can handle lazy loading for your images alongside its other features.

Finally, be sure your site is serving properly sized images. You can do this by uploading images through the media library and then inserting images based on your theme’s predefined sizes rather than using large “full size” images.

3. Evaluate your theme & plugin usage

While it’s a little harder to pinpoint, we often see Javascript Execution Time and Minimize Main Thread Work come up on PageSpeed Insights. These errors are often a sign of a heavy theme or plugins running. To address them, start by eliminating any unnecessary plugins and updating your theme. If those items stay in the red, it may be time to consider a theme that’s optimized for site performance. (Our friends at Mediavine are currently working on the Trellis framework specifically for this purpose!)

While there may be other things you can do to further improve your site’s performance, these three offer quick wins and are a great place to start for most bloggers!

Share your experience

We’d love to know if these three optimizations make a difference for you! Run a PageSpeed Insights analysis on your site and record your score. Then run the three optimizations above. When you’re done, run another analysis to see how your score has improved. Be sure to come back and share the results!

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