In this article
I’m planning on this being a major milestone release, building on much of the functionality that has been introduced since version 6
For example: I’m currently running an early version of 6.5 beta on this site and I can tell you as the #1 user of my own software, I’m pretty psyched to discuss some of the new features. In particular, those features which have contributed to my increased pagespeed scores and better search indexing with rich snippets.
The core code has reached a maturity level where I’m spending more time on polish and features that really boost productivity and performance.
That’s what has driven the effort to move more and more functionality away from theme options and into the widget manager and other common wordpress workspaces. The ability to drag and drop functional components anywhere you want is highly efficient and rewarding – its actually fun!
Enhanced Functionality that Respects Usability.
With any software, there is always a balance between usability and feature rich functionality. The challenge is to add more functionality without compromising usability. ClickBump is no different in facing these challenges. Especially with a growing user base that has come to expect and demand a rich feature set.
In order to accomplish this, in version 6 I began transitioning major functionality (custom menus, custom categories, category index, video box and authorship box) away from the theme options panel and into the common WordPress workspace areas, especially the post editor, widgets manager and menus manager.
With the recent additions of the custom menus, custom categories, video box and author box widgets, you can now layout your entire site with widgets.
Tip: By default the WordPress menus manager does not display your “Posts” palette. This makes it impossible to add posts to a custom menu. To fix this, click “Screen Options” near the top right side of the menus manager. Then, place a check next to “Posts” in order to add that palette to your workspace.
Another example is the new widget visibility URL filter that’s been added to the widget visibility panel. This feature alone, for the first time, opens up the possibility to target specific pages/posts or sections with specific widgets based on context.
Have you ever seen a 99/100 Google PageSpeed Score? I haven’t, until now.
Version 6.5’s core mission will be about speed and productivity. After installing 6.5 beta on the Canvas demo site, it gets an unheard of 99/100 on google pagespeed.
I’ve included a screenshot of the score below just for kicks. To check your sites in Google’s pagespeed testing tool, head over to the app and enter your site’s URL and click the “Analyze” button. The pagespeed app will run a check on your page, from top to bottom, just like the search engine reads it. It will then report back on exactly what you’ve done right and what you can do to improve your score. ClickBump owners should get minimum scores of 85 or better without really trying. However, to get into the high 90’s consistently, you’ll need to observe and practice the essential tips outlined in this article: increase google pagespeed score.
99 out of 100. Could this be the world’s fastest website?
Gravatar Caching: The Most Important Feature You’ve Never Heard Of.
As you site becomes popular it inevitably attracts more comments on articles and blog posts. Once that happens, a seemingly benign and (sometimes) attractive guest begins to consume more resources: the gravatar. You may not be aware of all that goes on behind the scenes before that little author pic gets displayed neatly next to each comment. Gravatars are subject to latency (your page slows down) and the gravatar server’s ability to keep up with its 8.6 billion requests per day (and Google pagespeed’s nags should convince you of that)
Now, I’m not suggesting that you disable gravatars. Actually, they are a vital part of your site and help inject personality and a sense of community. Gravatars are good. What I am suggesting, is that I’ve got your back on this.
Version 6.5 beta currently includes a new gravatar cache folder that should dramatically speed up pages that have comments. With it, your page’s gravatars are downloaded once and cached on the local site for future visits. I’ve boosted my pagespeed scores by 5-10 points on this feature alone and its eliminated all those pagespeed issues related to gravatars – all of them!
This feature is currently installed and running on clickbump.com. This very blog post is taking advantage of it. If you view source of the comments area below, you can see that all the gravatar images are local and not dependent on the gravatar.com servers.
Surprise: the most dramatic speed increases come from image optimization.
With ClickBump Theme, since every bit and byte in the core theme has been ruthlessly optimized for speed, you will notice that the things that have the most impact on your site speed will be outside of the theme itself. In particular, plugin components, extra scripts and images (especially gravatar images which are loaded from an external server that you have no control over) are by far the most impactful elements on page speed.
To help with that, in addition to the unique, first of its kind gravatar cache engine that will ship with version 6.5, it also includes a new optimized sprite.png (the master image that holds all the little icons used throughout the site).
You can see a portion of the sprite.png file above. ClickBump theme has utilized this sprite image technique since version 4 and its been even more optimized for version 6.5. As google pagespeed suggests, we’ve taken all of the shared image icons that are used across the site and we’ve compacted them into a single highly optimized sprite.png image. This boosts page speed dramatically since each image does not have to be downloaded separately.
With version 6.5 beta, I’ve managed to compact the file size of the main sprite.png image down to a super skinny 13KB with very little degradation of quality.
Users will be able to opt to use either the higher res version or the new optimized version. The only tradeoff is that the optimized version does not have the nice (but subtle) drop shadow effect on the social media icons.
If you have not already implemented my .htaccess edits, you should do it now. You will immediately notice an increase in page responsiveness and your Google pagespeed scores should improve by 5-15 points at a minimum. Once you’ve done that, image optimization is key.
I run all my featured images and post images through two free online image optimizers. I do this to see which one yields the best size/quality optimization. I find that the Yahoo smush.it engine usually performs best, but I also use the PunyPNG tool. Begin using these tools for all of your post images and you can shave precious time off page loads, especially mobile, and boost your Google PageSpeed time at the same time.
MicroFormats like Open Graph, Schema.org and Rich Snippets will be key in 2013 and beyond.
If you are running ClickBump 5 or better, you already have Open Graph support via the “ClickBump > Social” options palette. In version 6.5, I will be adding schema.org markup to the beta before it hits full release status and you will have the opportunity to leverage all these new features as you build out sites. The schema.org markup gives us rich snippets in search results which can significantly boost CTR.
I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions for features that you want to see in 6.5 – Please drop your comments and feedback in the box below and let’s chat about it.