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 Metric Old Website New Website (September 2022)
Google Lighthouse: Accessibility 79/100 100/100
Google Lighthouse: Best Practices 67/100 92/100
Google Lighthouse: Mobile Speed 62/100 90/100
Google Lighthouse: Desktop Speed 89/100 95/100
Google Lighthouse: Search Engine Optimization 83/100 100/100
WebPageTest Speed Index 4.426 2.804
Total Homepage File Size 2.1 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 Requests 64 (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

Websites Within Reach

Screenshot Dumas Bay Centre
Project Management: Cipalla Communications
Graphic/Logo Design: van den Berg Design
Photography: Chris Huss Photography
CSS/XHTML Web Development: Scott Marlow

My second website for the City of Federal Way: a redesign for Dumas Bay Centre, a retreat center owned and operated by the City. The new site features rotating images of the event venue, panoramic views of the meeting rooms, downloadable catering menus, and an open source Content Management System.

Dumas Bay Centre, a former convent, is an affordable event venue for all types of groups — from business meetings and craft gatherings to memorials and weddings. The event center overlooks Dumas Bay from a 12-acre natural setting with a waterfront gazebo and historic garden. Three meeting rooms can accommodate up to 98 event attendees. And up to 90 guests can overnight in 67 guest rooms.

Our team created a full marketing plan including a new website, brand identity and marketing materials. The work included a comprehensive advertising plan with ads in Bravo,, the Federal Way Mirror, and other publications.

Kettle Crest Advocacy Fest

Sherman Peak

Jen and I just returned from a weekend mountain bike festival, the 2010 Kettle Crest Fest.

Friday, our trail work party cleared more trees than we could count from the Sherman Peak Loop trail (photo above, ~6,000 ft.). Then we enjoyed two days of some of Washington State’s finest singletrack – including a 2,000′ descent of the Jungle Hill Loop.

The annual advocacy event is hosted by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and coordinated by volunteer Tim Banning. Lucky for us, New Belgium Brewing was a sponsor!

Wacktastic Holiday Light Show

screenshot Wacktastic

WordPress CSS Theming: Scott Marlow

Greenwood/Phinney residents can now enter the 2009 Wacktastic Holiday Light Show Contest!

This is my second year sponsoring this North Seattle community event by providing website development. The new site is powered by WordPress, and features an embedded GoogleMap that accepts batch uploads of contest entries.

Don’t miss the December 20th Awards Party.

Graphic Design credits: Beegee Tolpa, Kelly Davis.

WordPress Boot Camp

What I learned at WordCamp:

  • For blogs, there is 1 theme for every 6,000 sites.
  • For self-hosted blogs, there is 1 theme for every 3,000 sites.
  • 31% of visitors post blog comments [source: Forrester Research]
  • 95% of WordPress blogs are hosted on Apache-Linux (vs. Windows IIS)
  • Include numerals in Permalinks (for PHP optimization)
  • Replace your default admin user (for security purposes)
  • Recommended plugins: Clean Archives Reload, Dashboard Scheduled Posts, Gallery2, Headspace, Maintenance Mode, NextGen Gallery, No Self Pings, Revelanssi, Twitter Tools, WP DB Manager, WP Open ID, WP Security Scans, WP Super Cache
  • Read How To Be a RockStar WordPress Designer by Rockable Press
  • Read Trust Agents by Chris Brogan
  • Read PHP Solutions by David Powers
  • Read Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel
  • Setup Feedburner (vs. RSS only)
  • Use Starkers Naked theme
  • Be Authentic
  • Blog

Thanks to Adobe for providing free space.