Digital Pacific WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia with Plesk Speed Kit

Digital Pacific WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia with Plesk Speed Kit

Digital Pacific offers a $5 add-on for their Australian WordPress hosting packages called Speed Kit. This tool is a combination of a WordPress plugin and Plesk extension developed by Baqend that claims to get speed improvements of between 50% and 300%. Since your website loading speed is so important, especially on mobile devices any speed advantage is a good one. Hosting your website locally in an Australian data centre like Digital Pacific’s is a great place to start, but every millisecond counts, and the sooner your website appears on the screen, the more likely your customers are to take the action you want.

So, I want to know, does Speed Kit actually help improve performance? And, do I get extra gains by pairing it with a WordPress specific caching plugin like Hummingbird Pro? For this test, I am using Digital Pacific’s “WordPress Hosting – Standard” with Speed Kit enabled.  For my tests, I will be testing a WordPress website running with our standard combination of plugins and the GeneratePress theme to see how it performs under Australian conditions. This is the same configuration used for my other WordPress hosting performance tests.

Digital Pacific’s primary hosting location is in Sydney, and in my previous test without Speed Kit I so some excellent speeds, so I’m expecting to see even better performance today with Speed Kit.

Our standard configuration:

In my test setup, WP Smush Pro will be used to ensure all images are optimised, however the WPMU Dev CDN connection will be disabled to ensure that I get an accurate reflection of the Digital Pacific hosting. It is worth noting, Speed Kit also incorporates image optimisation, which means we could run without WP Smush Pro. That would need another test though to see the difference in image optimisation capability.

Initially, I’ll test with all Hummingbird Pro caching disabled, just using Speed Kit, then again with different combinations of Hummingbird Pro’s caching and optimisation settings active. I expect this should give us better results.

For these tests, I’ll be using an average size WordPress website for a service-based business. It sports an assortment of images and different kinds of Elementor objects and templates, including an embedded YouTube video, so it should give a reasonable reflection of the performance of a website built on GeneratePress using Elementor Pro.

Also of note is that at the time of testing, our Digital Pacific server was running PHP version 7.3 and had a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

Speed test platforms

I will be using three test platforms

The first test platform will be Google PageSpeed Insights since this provides feedback directly from Google on how it sees your website.

The second will by Pingdom Tools using the Sydney test location to ensure we are seeing results reflective of the Australian experience.

The third test platform will be GTMetrix, also set to the Sydney test location.

Digital Pacific WordPress Hosting - Standard with Speed Kit

For this test I have no optimisation enabled through Hummingbird Pro and caching is entirely disabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

23 100

  • First contentful paint: 4.6 seconds
  • Speed index: 12.0 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.4 seconds

Desktop rating

58 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 4.7 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.83 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 997.7 KB
  • Wait time for server response: 811.5 ms

Performance grade

79 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 3.6 seconds.
  • Page size: 2.26 MB

Yslow score

77 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.7 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load.

Digital Pacific WordPress Hosting - Standard with Speed Kit and Hummingbird Pro enabled

For this test, I enabled Hummingbird Pro’s persistent cache. Hummingbird Pro also had GZIP compression enabled, but all asset optimisation was turned off.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

28 100

  • First contentful paint: 4.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 10.3 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.3 seconds

Desktop rating

62 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.4 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.12 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 950.3 KB
  • Wait time for server response: 128.9 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 3.3 seconds.
  • Page size: 2.26 MB

Yslow score

77 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.031 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. There are no other negative flags.

Digital Pacific WordPress Hosting - Standard with Speed Kit and Hummingbird Pro enabled and Assets Optimised

For this test, I ran the Hummingbird Pro persistent cache with all CSS files combined and all CSS and Javascript files moved to the footer.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

24 100

  • First contentful paint: 4.6 seconds
  • Speed index: 10.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.3 seconds

Desktop rating

59 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.5 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.7 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.37 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.2 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 116.7 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 3.2 seconds.
  • Page size: 4.00 MB

Yslow score

77 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.042 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load.

How does it look in a chart?

Load Speed

Google PageSpeed Insights

Observations and final thoughts

Unexpectedly, while GT Metrix did report the best loading speeds with asset optimisation turned on, Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom Tools both reported that the best performance was attained using Hummingbird Pro with asset optimisation turned off. This is especially odd, as in my earlier test without Speed Kit, GT Metrix showed better performance without asset optimisation, and Pingdom Tools was best with asset optimisation.

In spite of that slightly odd behaviour, the overall loading times were good. There is marginal improvements over running without Speed Kit. However, it is definitely not the performance improvement that Speed Kit claims. 

For this test site, Speed Kit claims a 3.4 second saving in load speed. In my tests, it’s typically closer to 0.1 seconds. Not a lot, but every bit does count. What concerns me though is that in some instances, performance seems slightly better without Speed Kit, and in particular, Google PageSpeed rates the site lower when Speed Kit is enabled. The performance is not necessarily worse, in most cases it is better, but Google still gives it a lower rating. What concerns me the most, is Speed Kit on it’s own actually slows down the website. In my tests, running without Hummingbird Pro or Speed Kit is faster than running with just Speed Kit. So if you do go this route, make sure you test things yourself and definitely look at adding your own caching plugin (like Hummingbird Pro) to make sure you are actually getting a performance boost.

So what do I think overall?

Digital Pacific’s WordPress Hosting – Standard with Speed Kit is a great option for Australian WordPress websites. The response times from Digital Pacific are some of the best you can get in Australia, and Speed Kit does help to boost speeds slightly more. Price wise, it is a bit on the high-side unless you pre-pay for multiple years, especially when you add the cost of Speed Kit as well. That said, after you take into account currency conversions for other big players in the WordPress hosting space, they are not much different from managed WordPress hosts like Flywheel and they do come in much cheaper than WP Engine. Using a caching plugin like Hummingbird Pro does improve performance, but asset optimisation is questionable.

Overall, this is a great option for speed in Australia that isn’t excessively priced. I do think pricing could be more competitive, and it would be great if Speed Kit gave more of a performance boost, but if you are willing to jump in for 2 or 3 years it does make the pricing very good. Since Speed Kit isn’t really a performance solution on its own, it’s also a bit disappointing that you still need to deal with a separate caching plugin to get the best performance (or of course, not use Speed Kit at all), but it is possible to get great speeds at a reasonable price.

Tip:

The closer the server or CDN is to your end users, the faster that those users will receive the first byte of data.

Leave a comment

Almost there!

Enter your first name and email to download our free privacy policy template.

Downloads
Sending out marketing emails?Download our Complete Email Marketing Checklist!