Optimization using Hummingbird Pro – Does It Improve Page Load Speed?

Hummingbird Pro from WPMU DEV. Will it improve Page Speed Score? Caching, GZIP, Asset Optimization done. AMP and DESKTOP recommendations.

Lot of plugins promise to improve page speed and caching. WPMU DEV is one service which provides membership for hosting and resources. Hummingbird Pro is one plugin which promises to remove low score problems on different load speed testing tools.

But does it really help in improving the score?

I’ve already reviewed the plugin for its features and settings. To test whether it meets the requirements mentioned on its feature page, we will test it using a live site.

In this case-study we are going to do page speed analysis using the Hummingbird Pro plugin.

Introduction

  • Current site hosted on DreamHost shared server.  It has very less number of posts.
  • I have implemented 19 plugins on this site.
  • There were 12 posts.
  • AMP pages activated. This is with help of a plugin.
  • Images compressed to the minimum size using the Smush Pro plugin.
  • In order to better cater the needs of visitors in different countries, I’ve enabled the free version of Cloudflare.
  • Brotli compression and Rocket Loader.  Activated to speed up page load and JS execution times.
  • GeneratePress Premium plugin used. This theme is super-fast.
  • I did NOT use the WPMU DEV hosting, server, CDN.
  • I was NOT using any third-party ads like Adsense or any other network. The site was having only content and images.
  • Videos NOT used.

This is a very blank site with minimum resources.

Performance Test Details

Once I ran the “Test my Website” feature in the plugin performance test section, the results were quick. You can do the test for both mobile and desktop. As mentioned earlier, mobile score gives me the optimization score for AMP pages.

There should be a 5 minutes delay before each test. The overview section will give Hummingbird’s current configuration and results of tests carried out. The performance score will give an indication of the site’s page speed. Otherwise, you have to make changes as suggested by the tool.

Hummingbird Pro – Settings

Following rules enabled.

Page Caching

Page, Browser, Gravatar, RSS caching enabled. The following page types cached – Front page, Pages, Posts, Archives, Categories, Tags. Enable preload caching turned on. The cache interval set to 4 hours. Cache enabled for mobile devices.

The RSS caching status set 1440 minutes.

Browser Caching – The following file types – CSS, Javascript, Media, Images, Cloudflare set a recommended expiry date of 1 year.

GZIP Compression

This compresses your webpages on the server side, before sending it to the browser. This reduces the transfer time to the client. Since, the files are smaller. GZIP compression done to HTML, JavaScript, CSS files.

I have not enabled the same on the Cloudflare section. If I have enabled both, then it will cause a negative effect on the performance of page load time. It is better to have only caching through this plugin or on Cloudflare.

Asset Optimization

1.7% compression saving . There were a total of 30 files and file size reduction was 8KB. I used the “automatic” option. In this section, I enabled “Speedy”. This will automatically optimize and compress all the files.

CSS and Javascript files automatically optimized. CSS above the fold section not used.  This requires a bit of coding skills and you can move all the stylesheets to the footer.

Since the theme and plugins use different stylesheets, you need to find the relevant links and add them here. This requires manual work. You can also add the relevant CSS in the header section. Otherwise, page layout and other errors may come.

Advanced Tools

Following tools enabled.

  • Remove query strings from my assets
  • Remove the default Emoji JS & CSS files
  • Prefetch DNS requests – Default option of some common DNS requests.

Database cleanup and Lazy Load not used.

Page Speed – Test Results

I achieved a performance score of 66/100 on desktop. 3 opportunities suggested by the tool. Speed Index, First Meaningful Paint (FMP), First Contentful Paint (FCP) needed improvement. 14 passed audits. Time to Interactive and First CPU Idle were green in color.

The mobile performance score was 77/100. The Speed Index needed drastic improvement showing the red color. First CPU Idle and Time to Interactive were in yellow color. FMP and FCP were in green. It indicates AMP pages better compared to desktop.

Desktop and Mobile Recommendations – Hummingbird Pro

Following recommendations. This can improve mobile and desktop score.

Following are recommendations which can help lower your speed index:

  1. Since users can’t see offscreen images when they load a page, deferring them can help above the fold content load faster. Refer to Defer offscreen images for recommendations on lazy-loading your images.
  2. Minimize the number of render-blocking stylesheets, and efficiently load third-party javascript. Improving the following audit scores can, in turn, improve your FMP time audit scores: Eliminate render-blocking resources, Defer unused CSS, Preload key requests and Preconnect to required origins.
  3. Optimize your text-based assets to speed up their download. Refer to the Enable text compression audit for recommendations on optimizing text.
  4. Use Browser Caching to decrease load times during repeat visits. Refer to the Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy audit, and follow the caching policy recommendations.
  5. Optimizing your images can help your page load faster. Refer to these audits to optimize your images: Efficiently encode images, Properly size images, Use video formats for animated content and Serve images in next-gen formats.
  6. Minimizing your main-thread work can help the critical content of your page load faster. Refer to the Minimize main-thread work audit for recommendations on optimizing your main-thread.

Recommendations

Identify the most critical UI elements on a page, and ensure the initial load contains just the code needed to render those elements. The following can help you improve the FCP:

  1. Optimize your text-based assets to speed up their download. Refer to the Enable text compression audit for recommendations on optimizing text.

Recommendations

To improve First Contentful Paint, speed up how quickly resources load by minimizing render blocking resources. Follow the Hummingbird tips below:

  1. Optimizing JavaScript bootup helps reduce the JavaScript work on the page load. The JavaScript execution time audit measures the JavaScript bootup time of your page and helps you improve the score.

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