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Speed up your blog with three easy steps

Recently my blog started behaving really slowly, and I finally got down to do an optimization session. There are a ton of wordpress optimization guides out there, and I see no reason to write another full guide. Still, I think it’s worth it to share  how I cut a good deal of my blog’s load time using three simple steps:

Step one – measure it. I used Website Optimization for the comprehensive measurements (there are a lot of other options out there!), plus a local “timethis wget” to get a subjective feel.

Step two – reduce clutter. In the report I got from Website Optimization, I noticed I had a lot of objects. Nowadays with Facebook Like button, rating widgets, and other gizmos, a lot of pages are loaded with baggage. However, I didn’t find anything specific I’d like to remove, so I went for another easy solution – simply reducing the number of posts on my main page from 10 to 8 – this cuts down a lot of the load time. The exact timing varies by connection speed and other parameters, so let me just say that the total size of objects on my main page went down from a whopping 1,032,328 bytes to 742,197 – almost a 30% improvement! (obviously, this depends on post size distribution, but I imagine it will be significant in most cases). Let’s face it, your readers won’t really miss those last two posts that you dropped from your main page.

Step three – start actually using a cache plugin! I did have WP Super Cache installed a while back, but I never got down to tuning it. When I checked out the advanced tab I noticed that my blog wasn’t compressing pages (off by default). This alone shaved off another 25% of the total objects size, now down to 557,199 bytes.

Overall, Website Optimization claims about 40% improvement in page load time over a theoretical T1, I believe that the actual improvement in page load time in reality is larger, especially for users behind crappy Israeli ISPs.

I know there are a lot of other optimization techniques and measurement tools out there. Still, remember that the purpose of this post wasn’t to be a complete optimization guide, but rather to focus on the “easy and dumb optimizations” that have greatest ROI.