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

What Would WordPress Do?

City of Gig Harbor parks website

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System in the world. WordPress powers 42% of all websites; and 62% of CMS-powered sites.

But not all WordPress sites are created equal.

One of my favorite tasks is showing clients the benefits of open source technology. In particular, I enjoy demonstrating Core Web Vitals for open source WordPress Themes vs. cheap, popular paid commercial themes from vendors like ThemeForest. I primarily use Google Lighthouse to evaluate sites, but I also rely on Pingdom, WebPageTest and other benchmarking tools.

This latest nonprofit project for PenMet Parks in Gig Harbor involved rebuilding a commercial theme-powered WordPress site with my favorite Theme, _Underscores.

The client’s previous page load speed was atrocious, and the website crashed on a regular basis. Worse, content contributors could not even use the CMS to make the most basic content edits due to bloated Theme and Plugin features.

By following better WordPress and web standards, web server requests were reduced 69% and page size was reduced 73%. As a result of better web development practices, page load speed improved 78%. And the parks organization can now easily, intuitively edit all of their site content.

Scope of Work

accessibility testing
brand discovery
project management
content migration
copywriting
creative strategy
art direction
color palette development
front-end web development
performance optimization
security hardening
search engine optimization
visual design
WordPress training and consulting

Site Statistics

Performance MetricOld WebsiteNew Website
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Performance3/10067/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Performance12/10092/100
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility97/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices93/100
WebPageTest Speed Index7.1761.831
Total Homepage File Size
(In 2020, average page size was ~2.4 Mb; median size was ~2.1 Mb)
4.5 Mb1.2 Mb
Total Web Server Requests19461
Total Homepage Load Time~6 seconds~1.3 seconds

Team

Photography by Chrisy Dorsey
Visual Design by
Heidi Grace
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

Inclusive Websites for Inclusive Communities

screenshot Silver Glen senior cooperative website

Visual Design by Peg Ogle
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

A bright mobile-first website refresh for Silver Glen – the only cooperative community for senior independent living in King County.

The new site features a video of facility stills; an image gallery; and a community events calendar. System operating fonts were chosen to optimize site performance, with a minimum font-size of 18 pixels to improve readability for older audiences. A sitewide sidebar can promote units for sale, as needed.

 

Your Partner for Accessible Websites

PAVE responsive website

Client: PAVE

Scope of Work:
Front-end web development, Performance optimization, Rebranding, Security hardening, Visual redesign, WCAG 2.0 Accessibility

Team: Scott Marlow, Tami Vileta

The Challenge

Partnership for Action, Voices for Empowerment (PAVE) and the Military Parent Technical Assistance Center needed to modernize their websites to meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards. Simultaneously, the organization needed a more authentic visual brand to resonate with their clients: military and civilian parents and caregivers who advocate for children and youth with disabilities.

The Solution

Our team completely re-branded and refreshed their 2 websites. Starting with a deep-dive discovery process, Pinpoint took committees from both organizations through a collaborative process to arrive at a vibrant new look and feel for each site that provided a better user experience while maintaining rigorous accessibility standards.

PerformanceWordPress SiteBenchmark
Google Mobile Speed:76
Google Desktop Speed100
Google Lighthouse Accessibility90/100
Pingdom78faster than 87% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index1.180median = ~3.519
top 10% = <1.388
Web Page Size591 KbIn 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests47< 40 – 60 recommended

One WordPress Theme. Endless Possibilities.

Bike Works mobile responsive website

Client: Bike Works

Scope of Work:
Front-end web development, Performance optimization, Rebranding, Security hardening, Visual redesign

Team: Penniless Projects, Scott Marlow

The Challenge

To rebrand the existing nonprofit’s WordPress website affordably.

The Results

To keep costs affordable, we built the new site design using the same HTML5 mobile responsive 2012 child theme (based on _Underscores). New full browser-bleed headers featuring custom photography help modernize the look and feel. While readability was optimized with an 1,100 pixel wide 2-column grid layout. Bold custom fonts and colors help distinguish the youthful brand.

PerformanceWordPress SiteBenchmark
Google Mobile Speed:72
Google Desktop Speed87
Pingdom89faster than 77% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index2,211median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow80average score = 70
Web Page Size1 MbIn 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests38< 40 – 60 recommended