Retailgeek.com recently underwent a redesign and moved to a new host which resulted in a much faster site. In fact we’re almost 5 TIMES as fast!
The site runs on WordPress and was hosted on a virtual private server. But the arrangement had ongoing performance and security challenges. The redesign involved moving to a new WordPress theme, a new host, and using a next generation CDN.
For a long time we’ve been interested in moving from our original commercial theme to the highly regarded Genesis Framework. Genesis has a great reputation for speed, security, and SEO, and comes from by one of our favorite blogs, CopyBlogger. So step one was porting to the Genesis Theme, and customizing a child theme with the Retailgeek look and feel.
We were formerly hosted on a virtual private server from a reputable firm. The challenge has been that to get the most out of WordPress, the environment requires significant optimizations from a standard Linux distribution (NGINX, APC, and PHP-FPM, etc…). So performance tuning required a significant amount of time and skill that we didn’t have. It was also an ongoing challenge to keep the server secure. So we moved to a managed hosting service that does all that for us. We choose WebSynthesis (also owned by CopyBlogger). They specialize in WordPress hosting that is highly optimized for performance and security. And unlike our previous do-it-yourself host, they do all the work for us.
We hired them to do the migration and customization of the theme, and we couldn’t be happier with the service. Throughout the process, they provided great turn around times, added value with their own suggestions, and kept in perfect communication. We would use them again in a heartbeat.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a way to cache static assets closer to our visitors. Under the right circumstances, it can offer a significant performance boost, but can be difficult to set up. We selected CloudFlare, which is super easy to implement and provides a unique combination of CDN and other services. They act as our CDN, manage our DNS, and offer a variety of other performance and security enhancements.
The Results Are Dramatic
|Load Time||First Byte||Requests||Bytes In|
|Old Host||10.511s||0.966s||66||1,469 KB|
|New Host||4.230s||0.494s||52||611 KB|
|New Host + CloudFlare||2.144s||0.439s||44||227 KB|
We hope you enjoy the new design, and we know you’ll enjoy the speed and stability. With the administration out of our hands, we look forward to publishing content more regularly. As always, we’d welcome your opinion.