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

A WordPress Developer Committed to Performance-Optimized Themes

Composer website screenshot

This new version of the site is definitely WAY more mobile friendly. Love it!
Reg Unterseher

My latest WordPress project, which involved customizing a single Theme for 5 domains for 4 Northwest choral composers.

By collaborating on their marketing efforts – the group was able to affordably launch a series of custom, co-branded domains. The new, customized Gutenberg Block Editor enables each composer to create rich page layouts and integrate a unique color palette – while providing a consistent layout and user experience to visitors. In particular, each composer appreciated the power and flexibility of the Latest Posts Block, which was used to compile their respective choral catalogs alphabetically, as well as showcase featured compositions on their homepages.

Conductor-Composer website screenshot

Based on Automattic’s _Underscores Theme, page load speed ranks in the top 10% of sites – with high benchmark scores for accessibility, SEO, and other best practices.

Site Statistics

Google Lighthouse Insights
Accessibility: 98/100
Best Practices: 100/100
Mobile Speed: 87/100
Desktop Speed: 99/100
SEO: 100/100

WebPageTest Speed Index: 1.238 (median = ~3.519; top 10% = <1.388)

Total Server Requests:   26 (7 Scripts + 7 Images + 3 Fonts + 7 CSS + 1 HTML)
Total Page Size:                 334 Kb (In 2020, the average page size was ~2.4 Mb; the median size was ~2.1 Mb)
Page Load Speed:             ~1.2 seconds

Composer-Conductor website screenshot

Web Design + Development Team

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

DentistLink – Powered by WordPress

DentistLink screenshot

A redesigned website for DentistLink, a free non-profit referral service connecting Washington residents to dental care. DentistLink is supported by Arcora Foundation, the foundation of Delta Dental of Washington.

Page load speed was improved thru a 64% reduction in overall page size, a 21% reduction in web server requests, and a new WPEngine hosting platform. The new Theme integrates the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor for more advanced layout and styling options. A Google Translate feature makes the site more accessible to under-served populations.

Scope of Work

  • Mobile responsive theming
  • Performance optimization
  • Security hardening

Google Lighthouse benchmarks
Accessibility: 100/100
Best Practices: 73/100
Performance: 92/100
Search Engine Optimization: 100/100

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

Stopping Slow Websites One Nonprofit at a Time

DESC nonprofit website

Client: DESC

Scope of Work
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Visual design
CMS Training

Team: David Owen Hastings, Scott Marlow

The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) provides integrated services including housing, emergency shelter, crisis intervention and healthcare to thousands of homeless people.

Our goal: to redesign www.desc.org into a custom, mobile responsive, modern website that showcases the organization’s updated brand identity with bright, bold colors.

Performance Metrics

PerformanceWordPress SiteBenchmark
Google Mobile Speed:73
Google Desktop Speed94
Pingdom81faster than 87% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index875median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow84average score = 70
Web Page Size340 KbIn 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests30< 40 – 60 recommended

Connecting Nonprofits thru WordPress

Whidbey Community Foundation website

Client: Whidbey Community Foundation

Scope of Work
Content strategy
Custom Photography
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Visual design

Team: David Owen Hastings, Michael Stadler Photographs, Moore Ink, Scott Marlow

Whidbey Community Foundation, founded in 2016, is a grantmaking public charity that supports Whidbey Island nonprofit organizations through philanthropy, training and capacity building.

More than 750 community foundations operate in urban and rural areas in every state in the United States.

The new community foundation website, powered by WordPress, allows the organization to easily share fundraising, training and other news. A third-party portal by Community Suite provides additional tools for nonprofit listings and donations.

Performance Metrics

PerformanceWordPress SiteBenchmark
Google Mobile Speed:71
Google Desktop Speed86
Pingdom90faster than 86% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index1,440median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow82average score = 70
Web Page Size526 KbIn 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests28< 40 – 60 recommended