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
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
Estimated Mobile Homepage Load Time~7 seconds~1.8 seconds


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

Discover WordPress

Venture fund website screenshot

My latest website build for Tacoma Venture Fund, investing in early stage companies in Pierce County. This new WordPress site features bold typography, accentuated with quality duotone and black & white imagery, in a clean, modern layout optimized for larger resolution monitors.

Site Statistics

Google PageSpeed Insights
Mobile Optimization: 94/100
Desktop Optimization: 99/100

WebPageTest Speed Index: 1.767 (median = ~3.519; top 10% = <1.381)

Total Page Size: 388 Kb (In 2019, the average page size was ~ 2.4 Mb; median = ~1.9 Mb)
Total Web Server Requests: 21 (3 images + 7 scripts + 6 CSS files + 2 Font + 1 HTML) Database-driven sites are performance-optimized when requests are < 20 – 40
Page Load Speed: ~2 seconds

Site Credits

Visual Design: Heidi Grace
WordPress Theme Development: Scott Marlow

Celebrating Speed. Building Sites. Whole WordPress Support.

screenshot learning website

Visual Design by Heidi Grace
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

I am committed to fostering connections with clients so that I can solve unique marketing challenges with effective WordPress solutions. My approach to website design & development is based on measurable principles – including accessibility guidelines, performance benchmarks, security best practices, search engine requirements, and usability findings.

Clients can receive continued support post-launch to help guide them through technical and marketing challenges. I want to empower each client to manage their online web presence. Establishing trust is the first step towards helping clients achieve their online goals.

Julie Hannan had already worked with me on her first website – so she trusted me with her 2019 site refresh. Thru our interview and client discovery process, Heidi and I launched a mobile-first redesign that matches Sparkle Spot’s unique brand identity.

By working with the client to outline the goals and vision of their web presence, we can visually present the company’s ethos and service message. We place great value on the importance of usable design. A minimalist design emphasizes content and optimizes performance. We combine design aesthetic with an attention to usability to focus the visitor’s attention on the website’s service offerings. The new site features playful, custom cursive type for headlines – as well as custom mosaic illustrations – for a unique, but not trendy, look. The blue and green color palette has a Seattle Seahawks/Sounders feel to it, chosen to showcase local pride and also represent growth and stability for young learners.

Sparkle Spot Stats

Google PageSpeed Insights
Mobile: 97/100
Desktop: 97/100

WebPageTest Speed Index: 1,405 (median = ~4,493; top 10% = <1,388)

Yahoo YSlow: 85/100 (average score = 70)

Total Page Size: 389 Kb
In 2018, the average web page size was ~2.4 Mb; Google recommends a max page size of 500 Kb for mobile optimization
Total Web Server Requests: 26
Database driven websites, like WordPress, are faster when requests are < 20 – 40
Page Load Speed: < 1 second

Create Your Own Content With WordPress

screenshot Klevens Capital Management website

Brand Consulting by Heidi Grace
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

This web project involved cloning a site from a proprietary Content Management System into WordPress. The former CMS was no longer usable for John Klevens’ staff, who wanted a more intuitive editing experience. Content had to meet strict regulatory compliance requirements.

The new mobile responsive website features an easy-to-update blog for Klevens’ weekly market commentary. The new homepage size is 452 Kb – 79% smaller the industry median 2.1 Mb. Server requests are optimized for database performance at 34. As a result, page load speed ranks in the top 10%, according to WebPageTest.

Google Lighthouse Audits

Performance: 98/100
Accessibility: 79/100
Best Practices: 87/100
SEO: 100/100

Fast Websites Perform Better

screenshot Washington School-based health website

Visual Design by Heidi Grace
WordPress Theme Development by Scott Marlow

This state affiliate site borrows its brand identity from the national School-Based Health Alliance.

A map helps stakeholders locate over 50 Washington State School-Based Health Centers. A dynamic blog publishes information on advocacy activities, events, funding opportunities, and jobs; visitors can subscribe by email to automatically receive these updates.

Based on _Underscores, the WordPress Theme is only 590 Kb – 76% smaller than the national site’s 2.5 Mb page size – with 64% fewer web server requests (30). Database-driven websites, like WordPress, are more performance optimized when server requests are less than 40-60.