So, I made a mistake. We sent out an email to our database promoting our blog post on improving customer engagement with content. Before we did that though, since one of the suggestions is to make sure your content loads quickly, I thought it prudent to check we weren’t having any issues ourselves. I tested our site and that blog post for speed on all my usual test sites, Pingdom Tools, GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. In all my tests it came in at under 3 seconds to fully load. Most tests came in closer to 2 seconds. There were a few things I noted that needed to be improved but nothing urgent to deal with before promoting the blog post.
So, off the email went. Within mere minutes, there was an email back:
“Just FYI mate, that link took forever to load lol.
Little weird considering the content on the page.”
You can always trust people on the internet to call you out on your mistakes!
But, I’d tested first. It should have been fine! So what was my optimisation mistake?
I’d say I actually made two mistakes.
Mistake 1: Usually, our emails are staggered, this means we space out email delivery and in turn, we space out clicks on those emails. This time, we decided not to stagger our emails. It shouldn’t matter, our website should have been able to handle it, but the spike in traffic definitely contributed to a slow-down we didn’t account for.
Mistake 2: I wasn’t practicing my own recommendations! I like to solve problems and understand puzzles. Page speed is (to me) an extremely fascinating puzzle.
We use a really nifty optimisation tool with our clients called NitroPack, this tool automated a lot of the optimisation process. However, because I am attracted to the puzzle, as much as our site was optimised, it could have been better prepared. We weren’t using NitroPack on our own site and that would have made a big difference.
Instead, optimisation has been something I’ve spent hours and hours on, testing dozens of different server configurations, WordPress optimisation plugins, as well as implementing plenty of optimisation techniques manually.
That’s actually how we got to NitroPack and why we recommend it for clients. However, NitroPack was missing on our own site.
I already knew it was the fastest, easiest way to optimise WordPress website loading speeds that I’ve found in all my research and testing, but I’d never implemented it for us.
So, how do you setup NitroPack on your own WordPress website?
It’s almost too easy.
Our results without NitroPack
For pure, simple loading times, I usually just check Pingdom Tools. It’s the simplest results for fully loaded. Before NitroPack was installed, these were our results. The grade for this article, not so great, and the page size a little large, but the fully loaded time of 2.61 seconds was acceptable. Of course, with a 4.3mb fully loaded page size, that would be longer on slower internet connections as indicated by the grade of 67, but still not too bad overall.
Our results with NitroPack
After installing NitroPack, the story changed drastically!
Our grade was up to 97% and fully loaded time under 1 second.
A pretty significant improvement for about 5 minutes effort that should have instantly boosted performance for anyone else after those first 10 minutes or so post email send.
Google Pagespeed Insights had a pretty impressive result as well for both desktop and mobile.
Google PageSpeed Insights: Desktop
Google PageSpeed Insights: Mobile
How to setup NitroPack on WordPress
So, let’s go through how to install and configure NitroPack on your WordPress website.
First up, head to nitropack.io and click the “Sign up” button to sign up for an account.
Sign up for a NitroPack account
You will be asked to choose your subscription tier. To try it out, or for low-traffic websites, choose the “Free” tier.
If you are interested in one of the higher tiers, you can get an extra 5% off your first payment on either a monthly or yearly subscriptions using our NitroPack coupon code: DOVETAILGROUP
Once you have chosen your tier, click the “Get Started” button below that tier.
You will be shown your order details and will need to fill in your contact and website information plus set a password. If you have chosen to try out the free plan, your order will show as a $0 total.
If you chose a paid plan and used the auto-apply link to add our NitroPack discount code, it will show up in the order here. If you didn’t use that link, you will be able to enter the NitroPack coupon code at this screen.
In either case, fill out your details and then click the “Almost There” button. For free plans you will be taken to your dashboard and paid plans will be prompted for payment first.
Your dashboard will initially look something like the example below and you are now ready to install NitroPack on your WordPress website.
How to install NitroPack on WordPress
Login to your WordPress admin area and go to the Plugins menu and click the “Add New” option.
In the search box, type in “NitroPack” and when the NitroPack plugin shows up in the results, click the “Install Now” button.
Once installation has completed, click the “Activate” button beside NitroPack.
The plugins page will reload and you will have a notification at the top of the screen advising you that NitroPack has been activated but is not connected. Click the link “its settings” to go to the NitroPack settings page.
The NitroPack settings page will immediately prompt you to connect the plugin to your NitroPack account. The easiest way to do this is to simply click the big blue “Connect to NitroPack” button.
If you are doing this in the same browser that you used to sign up for NitroPack, then it will remember your login and process the connection immediately, otherwise, you will be prompted to login to your NitroPack account first.
You will then be redirected back to your WordPress website with NitroPack connected.
Your NitroPack dashboard within WordPress will look something like the below.
If you have another optimisation plugin installed on your WordPress site already that provides overlapping functionality, NitroPack will give you some warnings to disable any plugins that might be conflicting and it will tell you which ones. Make sure to de-activate those plugins to get the best results from NitroPack.
By default, NitroPack will put your website on the Ludicrous optimisation mode. This will have the biggest performance impact, and for most sites it will be perfectly fine.
Your website is now automatically being optimised and will likely be loading much faster! NitroPack will automatically optimise pages the next time someone tries to open them. If you want to pre-optimise everything you, you can enable the “Cache Warmup” feature.
Otherwise, you are ready to test!
Test your website with NitroPack
While Ludicrous mode is fine on most websites that I’ve setup with NitroPack, I have noted on some sites though that it can cause issues with certain front-end elements, so the next step is to test your website thoroughly.
Head to your website in a browser that is not logged in so that you get the same experience as a visitor, and then go through and test everything. If something is not right, you can change the optimisation mode by dragging that toggle from Ludicrous back to Strong, Medium or Standard until you get one that works for your website.
Alternatively, if you have a bit more experience with fixing those kinds of issues, you can either switch to Manual mode to manually configure the various optimisations, or, you can figure out the underlying cause of the problem in your website design or functionality and solve that instead.
In any case, make sure your website is working properly still after NitroPack is installed.
That’s it, you are done!
Why I love NitroPack
This article is reasonably long, but it does have a lot of screenshots to guide you through the process. In practice, I can install and test NitroPack on most websites within 5 minutes.
That means all it takes to optimise a website, potentially to a 99/100 PageSpeed score is just 5 minutes of effort.
It is super easy and requires no technical knowledge.
The only time it gets a little more complex is if something didn’t work quite right with Ludicrous mode, but even then, switching back to Strong mode will almost always solve the problem while maintaining quite a high PageSpeed score with no technical knowledge.
While there are a lot of good arguments for using properly optimised images and other assets before they even get uploaded to your website, in practice, once clients are adding content and uploading images, it’s very rare that they follow the best practice recommendations, and even with those recommendations, they may not know how to properly optimise their assets, or have the time to do it anyway.
NitroPack is a brilliant backstop for ensuring that a website continues to perform well, regardless of the knowledge level of the people using WordPress and it all just happens seamlessly behind the scenes.
It’s just so easy.
I highly recommend at least trying out the free version to see what difference it can make for your website.
Don't forget your NitroPack Discount
Don’t forget, if you do decide to go with one of the paid tiers, you can get an extra 5% off your first payment on either a monthly or yearly subscriptions using our NitroPack coupon code: DOVETAILGROUP
I recommend the annual subscription to get the biggest discount, but monthly subscriptions are a great flexibly pay as you go option.
Disclaimer: Dovetail Consulting Group Pty Ltd is an affiliate partner of NitroPack. If you choose to use our NitroPack discount code and purchase a paid subscription, we may receive a referral commission from NitroPack at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t impact our article or recommendations at all. We love NitroPack and think it is a truly great solution to make WordPress website optimisation quick and easy!