Optimizing Impreza With Smush And Hummingbird

Impreza is a popular WPBakery-based theme with a flavour all of its own, and it is the theme of choice for all of Vigilante Marketings’ websites. Phil Martin of WPMU DEV shares how to optimize this multipurpose WordPress theme for top speed and best performance.

Overview of Impreza Theme for WordPress

Impreza is a premium WordPress theme that uses WPBakery. It was developed and maintained by UpSolution and is currently available from ThemeForest, where it ranks as one of their best-selling themes with over 80,000 sales to date and a 4.89/5 star rating from over 2,200 user reviews. The Impreza team pushes big updates every month on average ( Check out this changelog ).

The Impreza theme uses WPBakery but with their own flavor thrown in. It’s an incredibly modular theme that decouples many of the structural components, including:

  • Grid layouts: Impreza lets you customize how you display groups of data such as posts, custom post types like testimonials or products, image galleries, etc. You can effectively customize any element in a grid. Check out their grid layout doc page for a glimpse.
  • Page blocks: The theme provides reusable blocks. This lets you edit everything in one place and the changes are then reflected everywhere you have added the block. Use these for footers, call to action, etc.
  • Page templates: You can build a template using WPBakery that can be applied to any post type or page. Use these to have different footers for posts versus pages or to support a different template based on the post type (e.g. a cooking recipe vs a product review in a blog).
  • Header builder: Impreza provides a unique, powerful, and very intuitive header builder. Check out the header builder doc page.
Impreza lets you effectively customize any element in a grid.

Some additional points to note about Impreza:

  • It natively supports most of the ACF custom fields (doubly great if you use SmartCrawl plugin for SEO, which also supports ACF).
  • 100% compatible with the WPML language translation plugin.
  • Built-in performance optimization options (including a one-click asset optimization for WPBakery elements: only include CSS + JS for elements that exist on your pages)
  • Built-in maintenance mode, button builder, custom image sizes among others
  • Ability to import individual demo pages or copy in specific rows from specific demo pages. This is a great quality of life option: when you see a specific row in a demo that you’d like to replicate, just copy + paste.
  • Each license is valid for 1 production site and 1 development site (forces maintenance mode). A licensed site provides you with theme white-label, demo import, one-click theme updates (without Envato Plugin), addons/recommended plugins (e.g. Smush)
  • Note: Running a license per site is not necessary and you can rotate a license where you need to install addons or import demos. Theme updates are still available through Envato Plugin for unlicensed sites, too. Also, while your support is active, the theme developers will help you with pretty much any theme customization and, according to Phil who uses the theme extensively, their support staff are incredibly knowledgeable.

So, Impreza is a great WordPress theme to use, especially if you love using WPBakery.

What we really want to know, however, is this:

  • Do sites created with Impreza load fast and perform well?
  • Can we make sites created with Impreza load even faster and perform even better using our optimization plugins Smush and Hummingbird and managed WordPress hosting?

Testing Methodology for Optimizing the Impreza WordPress Theme

Impreza is very performance-oriented, as evidenced by some of the advanced theme options they provide.

Impreza offers advanced theme options to help improve performance.

To get the optimal results, we apply the following methodology:

  • Hosted on WPMU DEV: A simple bronze-level server located in Canada will provide optimal performance for your site’s users.
  • Smush Pro: Image optimization is important to any site as every blog post has a featured image. Websites are likely to grow quikly to upwards of 10,000+ blog posts, so you need to make sure you optimize it from the start.
  • Hummingbird Pro: Used to do asset optimization, and it works great with Impreza.
  • Caching: We don’t need redundancy in caching solutions, so either Hummingbird Pro caching or serverside FastCGI caching can be used.
  • Impreza performance settings: keep “HTTP/HTTPS” in the paths to files, disable jQuery migrate script, move jQuery scripts to the footer, dynamically load theme JS components, disable extra features of WPBakery Page Builder, disable Gutenberg (block editor) CSS files, optimize JS and CSS size, and merge Google Fonts styles into a single CSS file.

Here are the setting that Phil from WPMU found to perform the best:

  • Impreza performance settings: ALL enabled.
  • Smush: ALL recommended + CDN + WebP (Pro-only features). Additionally, make sure the WPBakery Page Builder integration is enabled in the Smush > Integrations menu. This will smush custom-sized images resized using WPBakery’s Page Builder editor.
  • Hummingbird: ALL recommended + CDN + Asset Optimization Automatic/Speedy.
  • Caching: EITHER Hummingbird Pro or serverside FastCGI.
  • Impreza + WPMU DEV hosting on their own still does a good job out of the box. 83/100 on PageSpeed Desktop and an A grade (92%; 94%) on GTmetrix is impressive, but a 27 score on Mobile is not desirable.
  • Impreza’s built-in performance optimizations are very effective. It improves both Google PageSpeed scores into the 90s, which is especially important for Mobile.
  • Smush doesn’t appear to make much of a difference to performance scores, but it will reduce your overall page load size where images are present.
  • Hummingbird cache appears to be on-par to FastCGI serverside cache.
  • Hummingbird Pro CDN appears to be on par with letting the server provide CSS + JS via FastCGI caching.

Here are some additional valuable insights that Phil provided after running the tests:

  • “The #1 thing that completely ruins these scores is Google’s reCAPTCHA javascript.”
  • “I am honestly surprised at how well the theme + WPMU DEV Hosting w/ FastCGI serverside caching performed. TTFB of 0.224s and 92/98 on PageSpeed Insights without additional plugins is incredibly impressive. Smush Pro is then an extra layer of optimization on top by serving super-optimized image files. Hummingbird Pro can relax a bit and not have to worry about serving cache. Rather, it can focus on setting all our expiry headers, monitoring uptime and serving CSS/JS from CDN.”

So, there you have it!

Impreza is not only a fast-loading WordPress multi purpose theme powered by the WPBakery page builder but its performance can be improved using Smush and Hummingbird optimization plugins with server side hosting features like CDN and FastCGI enabled.

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