I am going to let you guys in on a little pet peeve of mine…slow loading blogs! It never fails…I end up going to check out someone’s blog and they have fantastic content…but…that page takes so long to load that it is annoying to even try to navigate what they are trying to say! It really isn’t the bloggers fault honestly as 95% of bloggers have zero background experience in website coding or content production. They are just a blogger that wants to get their voice heard. So…as you move forward in your blogging, how can you make sure that your page is loading fast enough to keep the readers coming back for more?
Blogging Tips: How To Make Your Blog Load Faster
When you go to start speeding up your blog, there are certain things you need to look at in order to make most efficient use of your time.
Image Sizes – Getting Efficient With Uploads
I go to a lot of blogs that are incredibly inefficient at displaying images in their blog posts and on their pages. For web use, the max you should be loading onto your site is 800 pixels wide and no more than 100k in file size. Anything more is overkill for web use and your readers will not even be able to tell a difference in image quality. When you load up a blog post with multiple 300k or larger images, the page takes forever to load on slower internet connections. The longer people have to wait…the less likely they are going to come back. Keep your images in check and you can drastically speed up your page load speed.
The TimThumb script that creates the thumbnail images on homepages and other areas of your blog (99% of blog themes use this…so if you have thumbnails…you probably are too) generates the thumbnail with each pageview. What does this mean for blogs with large file sizes? The script is processing those large file sizes with each pageview! You will drastically cut down your load speeds on homepages by keeping your file sizes in check.
Also, self host all of your images and do not use Flickr or some other 3rd party site to display images in your blog posts. The more your site has to reach out to a secondary server to load items on your page…the slower it is. Even just the FlickrRSS plugin I use in the sidebar of this blog slows things down. Always host as much as you possibly can in your own file system.
Widgets, Widgets and More Widgets
When I go to a lot of blogs (especially newer ones), I see a ton of widgets. The latest and greatest of every Alexa ranking, Facebook and multiple other widgets are all trying to load at the same time. Furthermore, they are taking up valuable screen real-estate so they are just cluttering up where you call home. With each widget, there is a script and content to load, so the more widgets you have…the longer it takes each pageview to load.
I keep a general rule of thought when it comes to widgets and features on a blog. If 70% of your readers will not need it…you probably do not need to display it. If you are putting up widgets that are only going to apply to 10% of your readers, you are wasting time and screen real-estate on something you do not need. Take them down and reduce the clutter.
Plugins – Have To Have Everything All The Time
There are new plugins that hit the scene on a daily basis. Every single one of them is the latest and greatest that will bring you more functionality than you will ever imagine. Guess what? You do not need almost all of them. I see bloggers get all excited about new plugins to the point they just have to install them and try it out! Along the same theory of widgets (many times these go hand in hand), only use what you absolutely need.
With each plugin, you are adding database tables, code and functionality that has to load with every pageview of your site. The more plugins you have…the slower your blog will load. Try to resist the urge to download every plugin you think you might need and stick to what works for your blog. Any plugin that is not getting used or does not bring functionality to the majority of your readers, deactivate and delete. You do not need it that badly.
Picking A Efficient Theme
There are a ton of good free themes on the market, but…in my experience…the premium themes are coded better and that results in faster load times. By getting a high quality theme from the start (and not hacking it up with too many plugins and widgets), you can insure that you load times will be on par with what is expected in the industry.
Need help picking out a blog theme? Check out this post.
Server level caching can drastically increase your page load speed. Even just installing a plugin like W3 Total Cache can help your readers enjoy your content faster. If you really want to get fast, contact your web host and see what server level caching options they over. Over at Sliqua, we get wicked fast with some memcaching techniques.
Final Thoughts On Page Speed
As internet connections continue to get faster, page load speed becomes less of an issue…for those with faster download speeds. However, your site is only as fast as the slowest connection trying to read your content. The more efficient you make your blog by paying attention to a couple of tips, the faster your content will load on slow connections as well has fast ones. As things continue to get faster, so do the expectations of your readers.