Slow Loading Web Pages

Do You Have Slow Loading Web Pages?

Sometimes when I am having a mental break from writing, I like to tinker around in the backend of my websites. This week the break was all about figuring out a few tweaks to end some of the slow loading web pages on my site. This is important because search engines penalize slow moving websites AND ultimately we want visitors to our site to have a positive user experience. It’s crucial actually. If someone comes to visit your site and it takes 5 seconds to load, they may just click away.

I know that sounds a little ridiculous, but in this world of instant gratification, people want speed, accuracy, and results. So the faster your website moves, the better. I knew this in the back of my head, but I never really did anything about it. Instead I just kept adding things like images, javascripts, videos, etc. that were slowing things down even more.

This week I took some first steps to speed things up, and I thought that you could take these steps with me.

CHECK YOUR SITE

Check to see what the REAL user experience of your website is. You may think your site is fine, but you are on it everyday. You are use to the speed and the movement of your site and your internet connection. Others are not. You may have slow loading web pages and not even realize it.

1. Check your site info at Alexa first. Alexa will give a description of how fast your site moves in the “site info stats”. Mine unfortunately was “very slow”. ¬†That’s how I knew that I better get started doing something to change things around.

2. Also check your site over at Pingdom and get a full and comprehensive look at how fast every element on your home page loads.

3. Your browser also has developer tools that will allow you to check the activity, errors, etc. of your site. You probably have to turn them on via the Preferences section of your browser. I use Safari’s developer tools to check on the code of my pages ( thanks to Kristerella!)

If you find that your site is slow or very slow, AND your site is powered by WordPress, then here are a few things you can do that I’ve tried so far with great success.

CACHING

Use the W3 Total Cache Plugin or the Super Cache Plugin. I think my brain would explode if I tried to explain what it does, but the general idea is that it helps makes things on your home page as well as your entire site load faster by:

“Easily optimize the speed and user experience of your site with caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.” – W3 Total Cache

“This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.” – Super Cache

These plugins work extremely well, I recommend you take a look and test both to see which works best on your site and is completely compatible with your other plugins.

PLUGINS

Take a look at your plugins. Do you still have that Hello Dolly one or an old Twitter plugin you don’t use – get rid of ’em. Don’t just deactivate them, but delete them. You can do it right from your plugin admin. Sure I just told you to add a caching plugin in #1, but that one is necessary. It’s all about trimming the fat.

HOME PAGE

Keep you home page clutter free. Try not to put every widget and other javascript coded items in your sidebars. Your site has to load all those items every time someone clicks on your home page. Just use a few. (This was one of my issues). Also, it’s a good idea to not show a million blog posts on your home page. It makes the home page heavy and creates slow loading web pages.

IMAGES

My next step is going to be host all my images, videos, CSS files, etc. on a CDN (Content Delivery Network). What that means is that all those images and files will be served from a variety of servers and not just yours – freeing up your site to move at the speed of light or something close to that:)

I’ll probably follow up this article with another one of whatever CDN I decide to go with and how I did it. Many folks that use this says that it really speeds things up on their sites AND of course it prepares you for that day when your fabulous articles hit the front page of Digg :)

Go and end your slow loading web pages today!

Comments

  1. Leonid says

    Using CDN is a good solution for the static content, but even the “Dynamic Site Acceleration” solutions some CDNs have will not accelerate a highly dynamic website greatly. For such cases (and for static websites too) a product such as AcceloWeb can be used.

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