How to Analyze the Performance of a WordPress Blog

Summary: The first step of the WordPress Speed Challenge is to analyze the blogs performance before doing optimization and write the results down for later comparison.

WordPress Speed Challenge so far

  1. On your marks... (WordPress Speed Challenge introduction)
  2. Get set... (Getting the tools every WordPress blogger need)
  3. Go! (this post!)

Introduction to Blog Performance Analysis

This is the first step of the WordPress Speed Challenge. In short, and for a quick start (in this challenge, where the speed matters - quick start is what's it's all about!), we are gonna check how fast (or slow) your blog is and write the results down, so we have a baseline we can compare the results against when we've done optimization.

Action 1: Get Firefox with Firebug-, YSlow- and Google Page Speed -addons

First, go back and install the must-have tools for bloggers, if you don't yet have the Firefox -browser with the Firebug, YSlow and Google Page Speed addons.

When optimizing your WordPress blog for speed, you'll be needing all the 10 essential tools for WordPress bloggers on the post, but for the first step of WP Speed Challenge, you just need the Firefox plugins for performance analysis.

Action 2: Prepare a spreadsheet for the statistics

We're gonna use a spreadsheet, or just a text file, Google Docs document, or just pen and paper to store and record the statistics.

You can create your own spreadsheet in Google Docs, Excel or Open Office for example (nothing fancy, just columns for YSlow, Google Page Speed and Pingdom - put the URLs to the left and then data to the rows).

You can also download or make a copy of the public WordPress Speed Challenge spreadsheet I've stored in Google Docs (You don't need Google Account / Google Docs to download a copy, but to make a copy for yourself into the Google Docs, you naturally need an account):

  1. Open the public WordPress Speed Challenge spreadsheet
  2. (The public copy is view-only. You need to make a copy for yourself)
  3. Login to Google Docs (top right when you open the spreadsheet)
  4. Click the File-menu and choose to Make a copy...
  5. Leave the "copy document collaborators" -option UNCHECKED unless you want to share your document with everyone, including me.
  6. Rename the document if you want (defaults to "Copy of...")
  7. When you have the spreadsheet copied to your Google Docs:
    • replace the with your blogs homepage and with the blog post URL you chose
  8. And you're done!

You now have a spreadsheet ready and you can fill in the data on the next action step...

How to use the spreadsheet: Before doing any optimization, do the next action step (Action 3 below) and write down the results to the BASELINE -sheet. (After doing optimization stuff, you'll write the new results to the After Optimization -sheet and you'll see summary in the Comparison -sheet).

Unsharing the Google Docs spreadsheet: Next to Google Docs logo, you see the document name and next to that, the privacy / sharing settings - change the settings as you want. To avoid accidental sharing, do *not* check the "copy document collaborators" -option when making a copy.

Using other spreadsheet programs: If you don't want to edit the spreadsheet in Google Docs, but just download it: Click the File-menu and choose to download a copy... (instead of making a copy). Export in format of your choosing (e.g. CVS or Excel) and open it in your spreadsheet program.

No spreadsheets? If you for some reason don't feel like using a spreadsheet, you can also store the data in a text file with your favorite text editor.

No matter what method you use to save the data, the important thing is to record the results of the analysis before you do any optimization, repeat the process after optimization and compare the results.

Action 3: Analyze your blog with the YSlow- and Google Page Speed -addons and the Pingdom Tools

  • WordPress blog tends to behave differently for an admin, so go to the Dashboard and log out - then proceed into running YSlow and Page Speed.
  • Analyze two pages on the blog: the homepage and one individual blog post.
  • Choose one blog post, and always use that same blog post on all tests - a popular post with uploaded images and at least some blog comments is a good choice.

You'll want to test a page that is the most popular "landing page", the first page new visitors load when they come to your blog - the loading time of THAT page is what counts the most. Most often, this is the homepage, or one individual blog post, which you can then choose as the other page.

For the two pages (the homepage and the blog post page), get the YSlow Grade/Score, Page Speed Score and the Pingdom Tools Total Loading Time.

1) YSlow works by clicking the Firebug or the YSlow icon on the bottom right of the Firefox browser window. Open the page you want to test, click to the YSlow tab and click "Run Test" (if it didn't run automatically).

2) Google Page Speed works similarly. You'll see the Page Speed -tab in the Firebug. Click on that and then analyze performance to get the score.

3) Pingdom Tools is even simpler. Open the Pingdom Tools and enter the URL of the homepage and run the test, and repeat for the blog post -page.

While doing the tests, you should have the WP Speed Challenge -spreadsheet ready on another tab of Firefox, so you can...

Action 4: Write down the results: YSlow Grade and score, Google Page Speed score and Pingdom Tools Total Loading Time

  • Write down the Grades (YSlow, A to F) and the Scores (both YSlow and Google Page Speed) that you get for the homepage and the blog post page.
  • Check the two pages with Pingdom Tools and write the Total Loading Time times down.
  • You might want to run the Pingdom Tools test again after a while, or even on a another day, to make sure there's not too much variance on the number

These loading times, grades and scores will be the baseline for your WP speed challenge (and for any optimization or other changes you do on your blog).

Don't worry about the reds, yellows and greens on the YSlow and Page Speed results yet - the important thing, for now, is to look at the overall score, and even more simply, the grade in YSlow - and the loading time is our primary metric for speed, the Grades and Scores give us a simple metric to see how well we're following the best practices - which again, result to faster blogs. If you want to learn a bit more about analyzing your blog speed, go back and read the post on how to analyze your blog speed.


The first step of the WordPress Speed Challenge is to do little preparation: get the tools and have a place to record the stats. Then run the performance analysis tools, like YSlow and Pingdom Tools website speed test and write the results down for later comparison:

  1. Get Firefox with Firebug-, YSlow- and Google Page Speed -addons
  2. Prepare a spreadsheet or a text-file for the statistics
  3. Analyze your blog with the YSlow- and Google Page Speed -addons and Pingdom Tools
  4. Write down the results: YSlow Grade and score, Google Page Speed score and Pingdom Tools Total Loading Time

On the next post, we get to the actual optimization, as I'll share the 4 most important steps to speed up WordPress. It's be surprisingly simple, since I'm focusing on actions that really speed up the blog, instead of wasting time on stuff that doesn't really matter that much (until the more fundamental optimizations are done first).

If you want to jump ahead, tweaking the WordPress htaccess and optimizing images you upload to your blog is part of the optimization and the easiest steps to do right now.

How's the challenge going for you?

  1. What kind of YSlow Grades / Google Page Speed scores and loading times you got?
  2. What kind of loading time you'd be happy with?

Leave your comments below, it'll help me help you better with this stuff.

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Topic: WordPress Optimization
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