Optimizing Website Performance | Commenting Service Trials on a HUGO Static Site

September 16, 2021 by Paul Byrne

Design and User Experience eCommerce Technology SEO

commenting services Most businesses know how important website performance is to ensure an easy online customer experience, ultimately leading to more conversions and sales.

There are many different aspects that businesses should look at while optimizing their websites, including:

  • UX Design
  • Analytics
  • Server Setup
  • Extensions
  • Copywriting
  • SEO
  • Interaction

If you are looking to optimize your site for any of the items listed above, Razoyo offers in depth analysis with our Technical, UX, and Analytic Site Review Services in order to help you get the most out of your existing site.

Don’t Overlook Genuine Interactions

Merchandisers looking to optimize their website performance should not overlook the value of genuine customer interactions with their products and services.

Try: Turning on and moderating your website, shop, and product comments.

The comment section of an online shop is often a frequently missed step that will aid your SEO and build an online community for your business.

Allowing comments on your website grows interaction and encourages engagement, especially as a website increases in interaction, there is also a greater possibility of Google seeing your post or product with a lot of comments as more relevant, growing it’s reach.

Growth is the Key to Website Performance

valuable interactions

Think of your website as a growing garden of content, showcasing your hand-planted “crops” or pages. Now, think of the user comments as tiny flowers that bloom unexpectedly, making your garden look that much more lush. Enabling comments on your website can boost your website performance via SEO, especially as a business responds to user comments with keyword rich, honest, and helpful responses.

A crucial component to having the comment section turned on for growth and interaction purposes is to actively manage comments, and be sure to pull out the “weeds” or spam comments.

Although commenting is important, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it.

One of the main reasons we built this as a static site, using Hugo, was to enhance performance altogether so it’s a topic we must cover. Previously, we were on Wordpress and while we love the ease of use it provides, we weren’t a fan of the performance it gave, along with a few other downsides. So, we had to find a better option than the ones we’d been handed thus far.

The Search For the Right Website Commenting Service

So the search began to find a commenting service that would work with our new static site while not reducing performance and enhancing the interaction capabilities of our blogs.

Initially, I felt we would use Disqus, an American blog comment hosting service for websites and online communities, but Hugo had built-in Disqus templates that should make everything easier.

After a few quick searches on Duckduckgo, It was clear that some users were seeing some site speed issues after implementing it on their sites, so I decided to run some quick tests on a variety of services per system we were checking.

Website Speed Evalutaion Breakdown

performance fertalizer

Website performance is based on a point system, whereas average production is about 75 points. The tests run on my local machine for Hugo gave an overall performance loss of about 10 points, making the system production at a mere 65 points.

Production

base metrics

Local Development Environment

base metrics local

Commenting Services And How They Affect Website Speed (+SEO) Performance

Disqus Drops Performance

From this 10 point reduction, further adding the Disqus template, that supposedly makes the system easier, dropped the performance down another 13 points…We are talking 23 total points on a website performance calculation. Honestly, this was more than I expected and while I do like the Disqus interface, this gave me reason to pause and look for other solutions that cause less of a drop in performance.

Disqus Production

FastComments Lacks Speed

When analyzing other services, FastComments was a viable option, given the name, but unfortunately it was anything but fast. Lighthouse did not agree either and performance points took even more damage, dropping 29 points, which is more than Hugo + Disqus combined. I even tried adding async keywords and improving their javascript, but somehow it made the process worse.

FastComments Production - not so fast

MUUT Fell Behind

Next, we tried MUUT, and initially with the off-the-shelf script they provide, we were not impressed as their points dropped to the low 30s. Ouch. That was definitely painful to see, so we added async keywords to their script tag and although I was able to get a bit more speed, it still had lost 31 points total, resulting in a 44-point performance rating. This put them behind both Hugo and FastComments, leaving them in last place for performance success.

MUUT - lethargic at best

Which Commenting Service Do We Recommend?

Honestly, these results are disappointing to say the least, but there was an apparent winner among the outcomes.

I loved the simplicity of FastComments but cannot justify the performance hit.

MUUT was overall just a little more difficult to control, thus I found it more challenging to appreciate its ecosystem.

Lastly, Disqus, although it slowed down the performance speed, was the best of the worst.

For now, the next steps are to move the Disqus version to a staging server in the cloud to get a more realistic speed test.

Each of the plug-ins are relatively useful but need some altering when actually put in action. As mentioned previously, commenting is one of the main reasons we built a static website, thus when it comes down to it, there needs to be a better permanent solution. For the time being, or until we find a better plug-in on the market, Disqus is the winner as it was the least harmful to the performance rate as a whole.

If you are looking to add more opportunities for customer interactions on your site and don’t know where to start, our team has On Demand Developers and Services, so you can utilize our expertise without spending an arm and a leg.

Given the advantage of static website builders like HUGO, you may be able to tolerate some laggy loading, especially since the script loads at the bottom of the page and most devices will complete a meaningful paint before that point.

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