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Thesis 2.3 is Screaming Fast

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Welcome to this seminar introducing Thesis 2.3. Today we have with us Chris Pearson the creator of the Thesis theme for WordPress. He’ll be talking with us as I go through the seminar.

The first thing I want to talk about are my six reasons why Thesis 2.3 will knock your socks off. I interact with people who have varying opinions about Thesis and people who have read all kinds of things about Thesis. In my opinion the Thesis theme has things that nobody else has that a lot of people aren’t even thinking about. And so I want to talk about those things.

Why is Thesis so Fast?

The first thing is that Thesis 2.3 is screaming fast. There are a couple of reasons why it is this fast. The first one is that it doesn’t load a bunch of extra stuff.

Efficient and Lean CSS File

When you go to load a typical Thesis page you have a super efficient lean CSS file. You don’t have a lot of extra javascript. Thesis javascript doesn’t rely on jquery libraries being loaded so you don’t have to load a bunch of extra stuff for Thesis to work as it is.

Flexibility That Doesn’t Compromise Speed

Its flexibility doesn’t require a bunch of extra processing on the front end. There is this traditional trade off. You can see it very clearly in the WordPress ecosystem right now where there’s a trade off between flexibility and site speed.

There are drag and drop options out there that seem to give them quite a bit of flexibility and certainly give them a friendly front end experience. But those tools trade the speed of the site for that flexibility. Those tools require the loading of additional javascript and the creation of a lot of extra CSS script in order for them to work.

But Thesis doesn’t do that. Thesis has all of its flexibility on the back end. You can create anything you want out of Thesis on the back end and not have it load any differently than the standard stock Thesis stuff on the front end.

In other systems, other page builders, that’s not the case. If you do something on the back end to create a different style page or do something different on the backend, a different layout or something like that, when you get to the front end there is a whole bunch of extra processing that happens there and a bunch of extra stuff that loads. That’s why Thesis is so fast.

Example “Fast” Sites

I want to demonstrate that to you because fast can be relative. This is a WooCommerce Thesis 2.3 store and this store has been around a long time. It started off in Thesis 1.85 and has gradually upgraded as Thesis has changed. It used to be dependent upon Serge Liatco’s plugin but since Thesis 2.3 came out we were able to pull that out of the site and just use the native behavior of Thesis.

When you run a web page test for that you can see this Thesis page loads in 1.293 seconds. That is faster than 90% of all the sites on the web. That’s how fast this WooCommerce site is. Now there’s not a lot of WooCommerce content on the front page but if you go to a product category page there is a lot. That only changed the page load speed by 2/10ths of a second.

Sure, we’ve got good hosting for this site but on the other hand we aren’t doing anything to compress images. We’re not using a CDN, we’re not doing some of the other things that are generally suggested for website if you are trying to get them as fast as possible.

Chris: Not running caching right?

Rick: Well, this is on WP Engine so it does have its own type of caching but it’s not running…

Chris: It’s on the server level. It’s just in and out fetching optimization. No big deal there.

Rick: Yeah. And this is the demonstration site for my skin, Agility. And it’s not nearly as lightweight as say Thesis Classic and this little demonstration page has a bunch of big images and loads all of Font Awesome and all the rest of that stuff. But the page speed stuff still has it loading in 1.4 seconds.

That is the power of Agility and Thesis. It’s an efficient skin but besides that efficiency and that we’ve got good hosting, the difference between 1.4 seconds and 2.9 seconds I think is down to Thesis. So, I just wanted to show those examples.

Speed and Page Weight

Chris: There is so much to the efficiency and the performance game if you will. For example, you could say “I’ve got this crazy theme that does all this stuff and introduces all this weight so I’ll just use caching and paper over it. Look my page load time is .9 seconds”.

Not so fast my friend, number 1 it doesn’t work that way for all your new clients calling up your page for the first time.

Number 2 you still have your page weight, the weight of the HTML page. If you view the source on one of these omnibus themes or one of these omnibus page builder plugins that people are using now to build their sites, your HTML page is going to be 10 miles long. It may well be something like 450KB.

By contrast a default Thesis page is going to come in somewhere around 52 to 58KB which is about a freaking low as you’re ever going to see on a WordPress generated site.

In fact it will be lower than anything else you’ll see because Thesis actually strips some stuff out of WordPress that is not relevant to 99.99% of sites out there. There’s stuff that WordPress instituted in 2003/2004 that is no longer relevant at all but it still gets served on every page of your site. So Thesis takes care of that stuff.

Thesis lowers your page weight. Search engines look at your page weight. That’s all they are looking at is the HTML source code. So if they’ve got to fish through 10,000 lines to find something instead of only having to fish through 600 on a Thesis site, well which one do you think Google is going to be more confident in their ability to scrape?

The smaller one is easier to deal with. So it’s a future proofing thing in addition to right now what does this page score on web page tests. It’s an overall movement towards the future, we must be more efficient and my eye is on that ball and I promise you that other people who just want to make sales with themes and plugins don’t care about that. They care about giving you what makes you happiest to buy.

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