I recently interviewed for a CTO position in which I would be responsible for a portfolio of web properties. Upon hearing this, a friend suggested I try Google’s PageSpeed Insights to learn about the performance of those web properties. It’s just one of many Google tools designed to improve performance.
Per Google, “PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.” It returns a score from 1 to 100 with 100 being fastest, one for mobile and one for desktop. I entered rickmatsumoto.com and got mediocre scores of 43 and 62. Game on!
I use WordPress for this site, so I searched for a plug-in to make my site faster. I settled on WP Fastest Cache because of its high ratings and performance tuning options.
- Enable cache system. My scores jumped to 54 and 70.
- Minify HTML. Updated scores of 54 and 74.
- Minify and combine CSS. Updated scores of 55 and 74.
- Combine JS. Updated scores of 52 and 72. They went down?
- Implement GZIP. Updated scores of 54 and 72.
- Undo step 4. Updated scores of 54 and 74.
Each step was a deep rabbit hole in the sense that you could read about insights and recommendations for hours. And these are just the free options. You can buy the premium version to unlock even more performance tuning options. Maybe later.
In the end, it would appear the performance of my site went up by 26% and 19% for mobile and desktop, respectively. I’ll take it even though I now have more questions than when I started. Why, for example, does combining JS files actually reduce performance? How much does a score need to change to be statistically significant? What if I changed the order in which I performed these tuning steps?
Back to the point of using PageSpeed Insights. Yes, it’s an easy way to get performance feedback and though it can be complicated to do the actual tuning, the tool does a nice job of pointing you in the right direction. No, I didn’t get the job – but maybe I would have if I had armed myself with this information earlier!
PS – For kicks, I entered google.com and got scores of 53 and a whopping 92. But why is their mobile score not higher? Another rabbit hole that I just don’t have time for!