Author Archives: Mark Headrick

Blog Updated to WordPress v5.2

I just updated my blog to WordPress v5.2 which contains a number of feature updates and bug fixes. As always, I backed up my files and database first. I have automatic updates disabled so I can do this beforehand. As I usually do, I updated the local copy on my PC before updating my blog here. The update seems to have gone fine so far. 🙂

This did include an update to the Twenty Twelve theme that I use. Using WinDiff I determined that I only needed to make a change to the header.php file in my child theme.

Changes Made to Blog to Increase Performance and Replace Jetpack

This adventure started after I saw this thread on Reddit: I created a tutorial on how to debug and fix a slow WordPress site. Something I wish I would’ve known when I started out as a Developer. : WordPress. So, I decided to try a few of the suggestions out, even though my blog wasn’t really all that slow

I first tried the Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster plugin. This allowed me stop loading some CSS and JS files on the main page that were not needed, such as the ones for WP-Polls. I then disabled WP-Polls everywhere on the blog except for the single post that had a poll on it. I also enabled the option to minify all the CSS and JS files. I did not combine them since my webhost supports the HTTP/2 protocol and the plugin did not recommend enabling this option if this was the case.

The next plugin I installed to help with performance was Lazy Load by WP Rocket and set it to lazy load Images,  and Iframes & Videos. This helped quite a bit by not forcing everything to be loaded initially.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make before and after screenshots of website performance tools such as Google Page Insights and GTMetrix. The scores did improve, however. 🙂 Well, upon further investigation, GTMetrix did keep a history of recent tests: Latest Performance Report for: https://blog.markheadrick.com/ | GTmetrix.

GTmetrix page sizes and request counts

I do take these reports with a grain of salt as there is nothing I can do about no Expires headers on third party content or the tool not taking into account that I don’t combine CSS and JS files into one due to there being HTTP/2 support.

Finding Replacements for Jetpack

I then decided to see if I could find some plugins to replace what I was using Jetpack for so I could get rid of it. I needed replacements for Stats, Sharing (Facebook and Twitter buttons), and Subscriptions. I’m sure my recent support thread, How to remove all comment subscribers? | WordPress.org, helped persuade me to find something else.

To replace sharing, I decided to test out Sassy Social Share which seems to work fine and is a good enough replacement. You can see the buttons at the top of this post. This also allowed me to get rid of Custom Tweaks for Jetpack by BarryCarlyon which I used to move the placement of Jetpack’s buttons.

For comment subscriptions, I went with Subscribe To Comments Reloaded. I had used the plugin this is based on before it stopped working and I went to Jetpack. Unlike Jetpack, I like being able to see the actual subscriptions within the blog’s admin interface.

To replace the stats portion of Jetpack, I decided to try out Google Analytics. After creating an analytics account, I installed Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights. While most browser ad and tracking blockers will not load the scripts, many did not load the WordPress tracking anyway. I’ll have to let it run a while to see how good or better it really is. After a couple days, so far it looks like it will be a good replacement. 🙂

Blog Updated to WordPress v5.1.1

I just updated my blog to WordPress v5.1.1 which contains a couple security updates and several bug fixes. As always, I backed up my files and database first. I have automatic updates disabled so I can do this beforehand. As I usually do, I updated the local copy on my PC before updating my blog here. The update seems to have gone fine so far. 🙂