The impact purchased themes have on Google page speed

Recently a client approached us to improve their Google page speed score, on a theme that they had purchased. Of course we wanted to help them, so we began our investigation into what we could to do improve the score based on Google’s recommendations.

We did the standard things that you’d usually do, compress images, install caching plugins and so on. The final thing we had to do was to compress down the CSS and JS files.

Compressing CSS and JS is something that we do on a daily basis, part of our build process is to use GULP to compress SASS files down to compressed CSS files making them much smaller and quicker for browsers to read.

To do this for a theme we used a plugin which allows the compression of these types of files. But once we did it, the entire site appeared to be broken. Looking into this we found that the way files are being called in with Javascript meant that the CSS files didn’t get called in correctly.

Obviously as this couldn’t be done, the Google page speed couldn’t be increased and because of the amount of CSS files pre-brought themes contain it marked the page speed down significantly.

This might put you off purchasing a theme, but there are themes that can handle CSS compression you just have to find them. Generally when we work with themes, we look for well rated themes that are well supported. We’d suggest if you are concerned about the page score you should contact the developers first to see if the theme can handle it.

Of course, if you want your site to run as fast as possible you may want to consider having a theme custom built. We build custom themes that are cleanly coded and optimised to run as fast as possible (see our earlier post).

One part of your site that you might be forgetting whilst reading this is it’s hosting. Everybody wants their website to load as fast as possible so the chances you’re on a powerful server are pretty high. But is your investment going to waste by having a theme which is dragging that load time back down? We’re also more than happy to give free advice on the hosting you pick based around the theme you have if it will help benefit the performance of your site in the long run.

Why not get in touch if you’re looking for a new theme? We can help if you’ve brought a theme, want a theme built for you or if you want us to help you pick a theme.

Written by Luke Reid Webbie

Luke is an aspiring Front-End Developer who also enjoys WordPress theming. Luke is eager to expand his knowledge & take in as much code as possible.

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