Website speed and page loading times are very important. Not only does a slow loading website negatively affect the user experience of your visitors, but it can also have a detrimental effect on how search engines like Google evaluate your website when deciding where to rank it in their results.
Therefore, if you want to improve the user experience, increase the conversion rates, and get more traffic to your website from the search engines, then you should definitely be focussing on improving the page load times of your website.
While one way to do this is to upgrade your WordPress website hosting to a faster service provider, it’s also important to be aware of the impact of your chosen theme, and any plugins you install. In the past this has required you to invest the time and effort to test the available options yourself. However, now thanks to the WP Speedster website and its author Csaba Kissi, you can find out the speed and performance rating of a vast array of plugins and themes, before you install them on your website.
In this article, we will take a look at the WP Speedster website and their free plugins, to see how they can help you make your WordPress website as fast as possible. This in turn will help you reap all the benefits associated with having a quick loading website.
WP Speedster: Over 25,000 Plugins and 2,500 Themes Tested
With the fastest themes in the WordPress Theme Directory scoring as high as 98 out of 100, and the slowest as low as 33, it’s vital that you speed test any WordPress theme before activating it on your site.
Thanks to the WP Speedster website, you can now see in an instant, which of these themes are the fastest loading. Not only that, but the team have tested over 25,000 of the free plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory to help you see the impact they too will have on the loading times of your website.
The website allows you to view the themes and plugins according to how fast they load, and the impact they will have on your website’s page speed. The tests have all been carried out using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Both mobile and desktop device testing has been performed. This allows you to ensure that your chosen theme will perform well on both types of device.
As well as giving you a quick overview of the speed rating of each theme, you can also dig deep into the results. This allows you to get a better understanding of how the theme works, and specifically how it will affect the loading times of your website.
Csaba Kissi has put together a really great resource that any WordPress website owner will gain value from. If you are using free themes or plugins from the official WordPress directories, then you should definitely visit the WP Speedster website for assistance in finding the the fastest options for your website.
Themes Speed Test Plugin
Themes Speed Test is one of the two free plugins from WP Speedster that will help you in your quest to build a fast loading WordPress website.
The plugin has only recently been released and has yet to be installed on many websites. This gives you a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor, and identify the quickest WordPress themes available from the official WordPress Theme Directory, before anyone else does.
The main feature of this plugin, is that it displays two metrics or scores for each of the themes they’ve tested from the WordPress theme repository. These scores are then displayed when you view the themes from directory that you’ve installed on your website.
These two scores tell you the speed rating of the home page and the sample post page of the theme you are looking at. These are the scores or ratings from the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Considering that one of the reasons you want to make your website as fast as possible, is that it can improve its position in search engines like Google, it’s great to get this site speed rating direct from this useful tool.
As well as being able to instantly see the two speed ratings for each theme, you can also click through to the details of the speed test for each theme. Clicking on the Speed Test button takes you to the page on the WP Speedster website which lists all the results and information from their test of the theme.
From that page, you can find out how the theme compares to the other templates in the WordPress directory, in terms of page load times. You can also see a more detailed breakdown of how the different pages of the theme perform, across a range of devices.
These test results illustrate the speed of the theme on desktop and mobile devices. Google is now factoring in more and more how mobile-friendly a website is as part of its ranking algorithm. This means it’s vital that you know how well a theme performs on mobile devices before choosing it for your website.
When it comes to using the free Themes Speed Test plugin, once it has been installed and activated on your website, it adds a new item to the Appearance menu on the dashboard of your WordPress website. From this page you can view the speed rating of the themes from the WordPress Theme Directory that have already been installed on your website.
From this new page on your website, you can search for themes in the official free WordPress theme repository. You can also jump directly to the lists of best performing themes on the WP Speedster website to help you find the fastest free WordPress theme available. You can also view the quickest loading themes by either desktop or mobile devices.
It’s worth pointing out that the speed tests of the themes aren’t carried out in real time. Instead the results are returned from the WP Speedster website, where the results from the previously performed speed tests are stored. However, at the time of writing, over 2,500 themes have been speed-tested, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
While this plugin does give you the ability to see the speed rating of the themes from the WordPress Theme Directory, it does have one drawback. That is that the theme must already be installed on your website (but not activated), before you can see the speed score.
If you could see the speed test score as you browse the themes in the directory, this would be great. However, as it is, you must first install the theme before you can see the results, then make the decision whether to use the theme on your website or not.
Perhaps it’s naive to expect the developers of the plugin to be able to overlay their speed scores on to the Add Themes page of a website the plugin has been installed on. However, without this feature, it does make the plugin a little less useful. You can overcome this by browsing the themes directly from the WP Speedster website. From the website you can view the speed rating, and then make your choice of which theme to use on your site.
Overall though, this plugin does give you a quick and easy way to see the speed test rating of the themes from the WordPress Theme Directory that you’ve installed on your website. By clicking through to the WP Speedster website, you can then find out more information about the page load times of any prospective themes, or simply find the fastest loading template from the directory.
Update: Next version of this plugin will display performance metrics directly in theme search results. We’ll let you know once this version will become available.
Plugins Speed Test
The Plugins Speed Test plugin from WP Speedster takes a similar approach to their Themes Speed Test plugin. This time however, as the name suggests, it gives you a way to see the impact the plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory will have on your website, directly from within the admin area of your website.
The benefit of using this plugin to find out this metric, is that it allows you to see the negative effect a plugin will have on your website, in terms of how quickly it loads. If you are trying to make your website as fast loading as possible, then knowing this number can help you make a more informed decision when choosing which of the free plugins from the official WordPress Plugin Directory to add to your website.
After activating the free plugin on your website, a new column is added to the Installed Plugins page of your website. In this column, you should be able to see the speed impact of the plugins you’ve installed on your website from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
From the testing carried out by WP Speedster, you can find out the impact the plugin will have on the home page of your website, as well as the single post page. These results are taken from testing using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
You can also see the number of resources in KB that has been added to the post page after the plugin has been installed. Furthermore, you can see the number of database tables the plugin creates. The plugin also adds a ‘more details’ link. When clicked, this link takes you to the plugin testing results page on the WP Speedster website. From here you can view more detailed results from the testing, helping you to make a more informed decision as to whether to use the plugin or not.
Again, like the Themes Speed Test plugin, this tool isn’t testing the performance of the plugins in real time. Instead the plugin is calling the information from previously performed tests, the results of which are stored on the WP Speedster website. However, with over 25,000 plugins tested at the time of writing, there is a good chance any plugin you are interested in adding to your website will have been covered.
Also, you have to install the plugin you want to know more about on your site, before you can see the results of the testing. Therefore, for example, if you want to see which of the free contact form plugins from the official WordPress Plugin Directory will have the greatest impact on the page loading times of your website, you will need to install the options you are interested in, then view the details. Alternatively, you could just view the test results on the WP Speedster website to save you the time and effort of installing those plugins.
Overall, the testing carried out by WP Speedster will be invaluable for anyone trying to make their WordPress website load as quickly as possible. While this tool won’t tell you the impact of a plugin on your page loading times before you install it, for any plugins you’ve already installed from the plugin directory, you can quickly see how they perform.
If you want to keep your visitors happy, avoid negatively affecting your conversion rates, and increase the chances of your website ranking prominently in the top search engines, then focusing on page loading times is essential.
Thanks to the efforts of the WP Speedster author Csaba Kissi, you’ve now got a free and easy way to see the impact the free themes and plugins available from the WordPress.org website will have on the loading times of your website.