Disabling Shareaholic WordPress plugin and other tweaks
Something I can be quite fanatical about is website speed and it is for good reason as search engines like Google are now actually promoting faster websites higher in their rankings. There has also been data that has shown that 40% of website users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
So it is with good reason that I am fanatical about it and as a business and website owner I think you should be too. So it was interesting when in the last week I noticed the performance of my website was significantly slower and I decided I needed to get to the bottom of it.
What I found was quite interesting.
I used two tools to diagnose website performance issues namely Pingdom and also the website www.webpagetest.org. I find that using both tools together gives me a clearer picture of exactly what to do in regards to website speed. As it was in this case when I used both tools I saw that my website speed was indeed significantly down.
Now I had been testing a variety of things in relation to website speed such as CDN's using Cloudflare and also caching tools, which in this case was W3 Total Cache for WordPress. However what eventually solved the website speed issue was when I disabled a plugin I was using called Shareaholic.
Now Shareaholic is a highly popular WordPress plugin that you will see on many websites out there that puts these nice share buttons for most of the social networks. I must say that I really did like Shareaholic but alas I couldn't let this ruin the overall experience my website visitors were having on site, so I disabled it.
The results were immediate.
After performing further tests on Pingdom I was achieving website load times of between 1.68s to 2.8s on average consistently whereas before with Shareaholic enabled it was in excess of 6-7s on average. This is a significant speed improvement and according to Webpagetest.org, which alerted me to the issue it seemed to be related to the Shareaholic API timing out.
Now this could have been a freak time out occurrence from Shareaholic but it is not the first time my tools have alerted me to issues with it especially because of the sheer amount of server requests it generates, which slows a website down.
What can we all take away from this experience?
- Use tools like webpagetest.org and Pingdom to diagnose speed issues
- Whenever adding functionalities to your website or in the case of WordPress adding plugins be very selective as it could have negative results
- Have a weekly or monthly test of website speed
- Investigate CDN options such as Cloudflare to improve your speed
- Get outside help in the process if needed. (It is increasingly worth it)
Finally Shareaholic could you please look into this issue as you have a great plugin but with such performance issues it really is tarnishing your work.
PS: What I have now started using to replace Shareaholic is something called Sharebar. Search for this in the WordPress plugins section and you will see it.