Developing Outstanding WordPress Websites for 12 years

Presenting my latest website overhaul for Early Music Seattle, a nonprofit presenting classic concerts at venues around the city – including Benaroya Hall, Bastyr University Chapel, Federal Way Community Performing Arts Center, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, and Town Hall.

Early Music Seattle screenshot

This project involved converting a custom-built WordPress Theme and migrating content into a new performance-optimized Theme (_Underscores). The Block Editor was integrated for more robust layout and styling. Accessibility improvements included higher contrast colors, navigation skip links, keyboard accessible menus, and mobile-clickable phone numbers. A new branded event calendar was also integrated, with the ability for community organizations to submit third-party events. By reducing server requests 45% and reducing page size 85%, page load speed now ranks in the upper 10th percentile of sites.

Scope of Work

  • Accessibility consulting
  • Content migration
  • Performance optimization
  • Security hardening
  • WordPress training & consulting

Site Statistics

Performance MetricOld WebsiteNew Website (September 2022)
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility79/100100/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices67/10092/100
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Speed62/10090/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Speed89/10095/100
Google Lighthouse: Search Engine Optimization83/100100/100
WebPageTest Speed Index4.4262.804
Total Homepage File Size2.1 Mb ( 1.36 Mb Images + 574 Kb Scripts + 156 Kb CSS + Kb HTML)323 Kb (169 Kb Images + 57 Kb Scripts + 45 Kb CSS + 43 Kb Fonts + 18 Kb HTML)
Total Web Server Requests64 (22 Images + 29 Scripts + 11 CSS + 5 Other + 2 HTML)35 (7 Images + 11 Scripts + 13 CSS + 3 Font + 1 HTML)
Total Homepage Load Time~4.4 seconds~2.8 seconds

WebPage Test Speed Index: median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388
In 2021, the average page size = ~2.4 Mb and median page size = ~2.1 Mb.
Database-driven websites, like WordPress, are more performance optimized when server requests are < 40 – 60.

Photography: EMS staff, volunteers and Scribe Music
Videography: Markdavin Obenza: Scribe Music
Visual Design
: Amy Tullis
WordPress Theme Development: Scott Marlow

Building WordPress Websites with Equity and Accessibility in Mind

Sometimes a website with reasonable benchmarks can still perform poorly. This dental foundation website is a perfect example. The former site’s 2.2 Mb page size was well within the industry median; and 84 server requests is above optimum, but certainly not atrocious. Still, migrating from a custom-coded Theme to a WordPress-approved Theme (_Underscores) significantly improved perceived page load speed, despite server requests increasing and page size decreasing nominally.

Dental Foundation website
Arcora Foundation’s new WordPress Block-powered website

Benchmark Analysis

Performance MetricOld Website
New Website
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility95/100100/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices92/100100/100
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Speed31/10073/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Speed81/10091/100
Google Lighthouse: Search Engine Optimization80/10083/100
WebPageTest Speed Index7.3091.926
Total Homepage File Size2.2 Mb ( 1.36 Mb Images + 574 Kb Scripts + 156 Kb CSS + 110 Kb HTML)1.7 Mb (1.28 Mb Images + 295 Kb Scripts + 63 Kb CSS + Kb Fonts + 124 Kb HTML)
Total Web Server Requests84 (25 Images + 32 Scripts + 16 CSS + 11 Other + 1 HTML)92 (64 Images + 15 Scripts + 8 CSS + 3 Other + 2 HTML)
Total Homepage Load Time~7.3 seconds~ 1.9 seconds

WebPage Test Speed Index: median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388
In 2021, the average page size = ~2.4 Mb and median page size = ~2.1 Mb.
Database-driven websites, like WordPress, are more performance optimized when server requests are < 40 – 60.

Scope of Work

  • Accessibility auditing, consulting and remediation
  • Performance optimization
  • Security hardening
  • WordPress training & consulting

Web Design + Development Team

Visual Design by David Owen Hastings
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

Accessible Websites You Need. Content Editing Features You Want.

A new WordPress Theme for Base Supply Center, operated by The Lighthouse for the Blind. This new Gutenberg block-powered Theme replaces the former Avada Theme. Website improvements include:

  • mobile-friendly phone numbers;
  • increased font sizing with improved line-height for readability;
  • improved color contrast;
  • and table-less HTML layout.

supply center website

Scope of Work

  • Accessibility auditing, consulting and remediation
  • DNS management
  • Performance optimization
  • Security hardening
  • WordPress training & consulting

Benchmarks

Performance MetricUnderscores Theme
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility100/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices92/100
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Speed67/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Speed89/100
Google Lighthouse: Search Engine Optimization91/100
WebPageTest Speed Index2.396
Total (Discover) Page File Size2.09 Mb (1.4 Mb Images + 528 Kb Scripts + 81 Kb CSS + 138 Kb Fonts + 20 Kb HTML)
Total Web Server Requests90 (26 Images + 38 Scripts + 16 CSS + 6 Fonts + 3 Other + 1 HTML)
Total Homepage Load Time~2.6 seconds

An optional HTML Table Caption
WebPage Test Speed Index: median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388
In 2021, the average page size = ~2.4 Mb and median page size = ~2.1 Mb.
Database-driven websites, like WordPress, are more performance optimized when server requests are < 40 – 60.

Proven WordPress Websites that Nonprofits Love!

Sound Generations’ Project Enhance provides licensing, training and assistance for two nationally recognized evidence-based programs: Enhance®Fitness and Enhance®Wellness.

The new Project Enhance WordPress site features an integrated members-only content area for fitness instructors and affiliates across 43 states. Benchmarks across all measurable areas have improved significantly. Overall page size has reduced 93% from 6.5 Mb to < 500 Kb; web server requests have reduced 69% from 59 to 18. These improvements result in page load speeds less than 3 seconds.

Enhance Fitness and Wellness website

Site Statistics

Performance MetricOld (Divi) WordPress Theme
New Custom-Branded WordPress Theme
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility88/100100/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices75/10092/100
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Speed47/10096/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Speed64/10099/100
Google Lighthouse: Search Engine Optimization82/10090/100
WebPageTest Speed Index6.1212.008
Homepage File Size6.46 Mb (6.06 Mb Images + 205 Kb Scripts + 239 Kb CSS +100 Kb Fonts + Kb HTML)484 Kb (302 Kb Images + 3 Kb Scripts + 33 Kb CSS + 149 Kb Fonts + 8 Kb HTML)
Web Server Requests59 (16 Images + 17 Scripts + 19 CSS + 5 Fonts + 2 HTML)18 (7 Images + 2 Scripts + 6 CSS + 2 Fonts + 1 HTML)
Homepage Load Time~6.1 seconds~2 seconds

WebPage Test Speed Index: median = ~3.591; top 10% = <1.388
In 2021, the average page size = ~2.4 Mb and median page size = ~2.1 Mb.

Database-driven websites, like WordPress, are more performance optimized when server requests are < 40 – 60.

Other site updates and improvements include:

More readable content with font sizes > 16 pixels and reduced line widths; keyboard-navigable menu with skip to content link for screen readers;  custom-branded browser favicon; improved security, including bruteforce protection.

Project Enhance is a collaboration between Sound Generations, University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative (now Kaiser Permanente).