Optimize Performance of Your Site in 5 Simple Steps…for Free!

Optimize Performance of Your Site in 5 Simple Steps…for Free!

Hummingbird is already one of the most popular optimization plugins in the WordPress world. With the latest update comes the startup wizard, making setup simpler and faster than ever.

If you haven’t already, make sure to download the Hummingbird plugin for free at WordPress.org today.

In this post, we’re going to demo the new wizard, to show you how getting your site optimized for speed and performance is just a few clicks away.

Keep reading, or use the links below to jump to any section:

Are you ready for this Harry Potter-ish sorcery?

Greedy for Speed

Site speed is generally at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list. And if it isn’t, it should be.

Greater speed means more traffic, which equates to increased interactions and conversions. Picking up that potential for driving more business to your site is a no-brainer.

Not to mention the boost you’ll get to your SEO ranking—because site speed is considered a signal in Google’s search ranking algorithms.

Site speed depends on a number of factors, but one of the most important is optimization. Caching and compression make a huge impact, and that’s exactly what Hummingbird does.

In addition to being a full caching suite (it handles Page, Browser, Object, Gravatar, & RSS), Hummingbird also delivers high-level asset optimization.

Hummingbird banner

Here are some of the optimizations Hummingbird includes:

  • Compression – minifies files by stripping unnecessary code
  • Combine – combined smaller files resulting in fewer files making fewer requests
  • Move to Footer – scripts that aren’t required to load a page can be placed in the footer, ensuring they won’t impede the loading of other page assets
  • Inline CSS – places CSS within the HTML file, reducing the number of files the browser has to download
  • Defer – forces files to suspend loading until everything else has loaded
  • Async – asynchronously loads assets, executing them as soon as they’re ready
  • Preload – preload key assets, ensuring they’re ready as soon as they’re required
  • Font Optimization – optimizes delivery of your fonts

All of these actions lend themselves to a drastically reduced transfer time, which gives you desirable speed gains.

Alright… wizardry awaits! Let’s raise the wand.

Wizard Walkthrough

If you haven’t already, install and activate Hummingbird from your WordPress dashboard, or the WP.org plugin repository. Afterwards, the wizard will start automatically.

Step 1 – Getting Started

Here you can enable usage tracking (I did), or leave it off. It’s completely your call.

Note: WPMU DEV only tracks non-sensitive data around feature usage, WordPress & server environment, and browser/OS type. We do not track or store personal data from your visitors. (You can read our policy here.)

Click the blue Get Started button at the bottom of the page.

Hummingbird wizard 1
Hummingbird Wizard – Getting Started

This takes us immediately into…

Step 2 – Asset Optimization

This section is about combining and minifying your files.

Enable Speedy Compression is toggled ON by default. I recommend leaving it enabled, as it will deliver speed improvements. Click the Continue button at page bottom.

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Hummingbird Wizard – Asset Optimization

You’ll get a popup window with a progressive status bar as Hummingbird quickly scans your site assets.

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Hummingbird’s asset optimizations loading.

Step 3 – Uptime

Uptime is a Pro feature, which is why it is grayed out/skipped over.

As an FYI, Uptime enables you to be immediately alerted if your website goes down, and when your website has come back up.

You can also track how long your site was down for, when the last time your site went down, as well as your server response times.

If you’re interested in accessing this feature (and even more goodies), click on the purple Try Pro for Free button at the top of the wizard.

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Hummingbird Wizard – Uptime (Pro only)

Step 4 – Page Caching

In this section, you can enable one or more of the basic options of the Page Caching feature.

The options available in the wizard are:

Cache on mobile devices – Page caching is enabled for mobile devices by default. Disable if you prefer not to use mobile caching.

Clear cache on comment post – This will clear the page cache after each comment made on a post.

Cache HTTP headers – Hummingbird won’t cache HTTP headers by default. If you want to include them, enable this. (We recommend enabling.)

Show clear cache button in admin bar – This will add a shortcut button to Hummingbird settings, in the top WordPress Admin bar, allowing you to Clear Cache by clicking it. (It will clear all active cache types).

All are ON by default, and I suggest leaving them this way (unless you have reasons to do otherwise). Click the Continue button once again to confirm your selections.

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Hummingbird Wizard – Page Caching

Step 5 – Advanced Tools

Here you can enable one or more of the advanced options in Hummingbird.

Remove query strings from my assets – This will remove query strings from URLs (ex: “?x=y”), as servers, CDNs or caching systems don’t like them, and removing them can help increase speed.

Remove the default Emoji JS & CSS files – This will remove the Javascript & CSS files that convert common symbols to emojis. Disable this if you don’t care about seeing visual emojis.

I turned the second one off, because I like to see emojis in their full–color artistic glory.

Select the options to your liking, then click the Continue button.

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Hummingbird Wizard – Advanced Options

That’s it! We’re already at the finish line.

This last screen shows a summary of all the selections we made during this setup wizard.

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Hummingbird Wizard – Completed!

With settings in place, it’s a great time to get a first look at your site’s current performance. Click on the Run Performance Test button to get a detailed report.

You’ll get another loading progress bar window while the test is run. Then it will load the main Hummingbird dashboard page, with all of your test results.

(Or you can just skip ahead by clicking the Go To Dashboard button, if you prefer to run the test later.)

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Hummingbird’s dashboard with test results.

Hummingbird is providing a lot of powerful information here. Each of the test results offers insight and opportunities for improvement. By clicking on any of the metrics, you can see what the possible issues are, and what you can do to improve them.

There are also additional handy integrations in Hummingbird, such as Cloudflare’s APO (paid service through Cloudflare), CDN through WPMU DEV’s Hosting (this is a Pro feature), and Lazy Loading with Smush—the award winning image optimizer (this is free). These are viewable/editable at any time as well, from the Hummingbird dashboard menu.

Peak Optimization for the Win

All it takes is a couple of minutes and a few clicks to get your site in rip-roaring condition. And there’s no time like the present.

With state of the art compression features, such as minification and world-class caching, Hummingbird gives you heaps of optimization in a single plugin. And did we mention it’s free?

While site speed isn’t everything… No, scratch that. It is. Site speed IS everything. And you can pick up a ton of it simply by implementing Hummingbird.

Formidable, free, and now even quicker and easier with the startup wizard. Hummingbird will get you in the fast lane of the speed game!

Have you tried the new startup wizard in Hummingbird? Any favorite elements or suggestions for additions? Let us know in the comments below.
Janette Burhans
Janette Burhans Janette is a wily wordsmith and impassioned illustrator who does her best work surrounded by pink, sparkly things. Aside from creating articles and art, she treasures time with family (human & furry), reading or watching stories, and long walks down the makeup aisle. She is happy to share her thoughts and feelings, but draws the line at ice cream.