Ahh, what is taking so long for this site to load? Forget it, I am out of here…your users are getting frustrated and leaving. How many visitors do you lose because of how long it takes your site to load?
For me, blogging is as much about my enjoyment of writing as it is about learning new technologies. When I started my blog, I did not have great wisdom or insight that I felt I needed to share with the world. I wanted a venue that I could write my thoughts, interact with others, and learn. I am very pleased that I have achieved my objectives. My writing has gotten substantially better, and I have learned much about blogging, SEO, and other kinds of “techie” stuff.
I wanted to get my website to in the most optimal condition, and with a little searching, I found much in the way of improvements. There is actually nothing original in this post. I must give all the credit to the quality bloggers, techies, and software developers that have worked diligently to improve their own sites, write great software, and share information.
I started by running Firefox with the Firebug and YSlow add-ons. These two add-ons work great together and give you a good overview of what is going on with your site. YSlow grades your site based off of several criteria. I started with an “F” grade, how pleasant for me. By the time that I was done, I had my grade to a “B”.
Most of my improvements can be attributed to the fine folks at AskApache.com. I have included links to the relevant sections of their website.
- Turn On Compression
- Add Future Expires Header
- Add Cache-Control Headers
- Turn Off ETags
- Remove Last-Modified Header
- Use Multiple SubDomains
I added a database management plugin that optimizes, among many other things, the SQL database that WordPress utilizes. The plugin is called WP-DBManager and can be downloaded free of charge from the WordPress plugin site. The other plugin, W3 Total Cache, looks very promising, but I am waiting for some information from my host on support for APC or memcache before I proceed. I have also removed some of the elements off my blog. Frankly, I just had a little too much on the homepage.
I completed a few additional adjustments and tweaks that involved my WordPress theme. I took the extra time to test and document these changes very carefully. Any time the theme is updated by the developer, I will have to implement these last few optimization changes. I only wanted to go through the discovery and testing pain once, so good documentation on my part was required. These last few changes were theme specific, so I did not list them. Yours will be different then mine, so you need to go through your YSlow output carefully and do some research. Be aware that some changes can improve your YSlow grade but only trim off a small fraction of a second of page load time. As always, you need to look at the time it take to research and maintain the change, against the improvement in page load time. Frankly, some changes may not be worth the time and effort.
According to websiteoptimization.com, I still have a bit much on my homepage. This is a great site for looking at load times of your site by object type. It performs a pretty thorough analysis of your site and should be read in conjunction with the YSlow output. I have a lot of images on my homepage, and I pay the price for that in download time.
When I started, my site fully loaded in about 22 to 27 seconds on a T1 (1.44Mb) Internet connection. I am currently running about 11 to 12 seconds to fully load. I would like to get this down to the 10 second mark, but it would involve me having to remove additional images off my homepage and make additional theme changes. On my home broadband account, which is much faster Internet connection, my site currently loads in about 4 or 5 seconds.
Hope this is helpful and will spur you into looking at the load time of your site.