WordPress load time – how to speed up your blog loading time

Your wordpress loading time is a point that can be accidentally overlooked when your developing your blog but its of paramount importance that you address the time to load regularly to keep it healthy and keep your visitors happy.

Why is it important to address your WordPress load time?

Don’t underestimate load times on a site or blog, especially your own. Just to make the point, lets illustrate.

If you click this image below:

load-time-slow

It opened a page with an image of your site that a first time visitor will experience for the first few seconds. If this stays the same for longer than 3 seconds, how does it make you feel.

  • Is it worth waiting on? (impatient)
  • Is it actually loading? (uncertainty)
  • LOAD DAMMIT! (frustration)

Not the best way to introduce someone to your site is it?

The importance of your blogs load time

While you may look at your blog everyday, its easy to become complacent about your blog load time especially if its cached on your computer after the first visit making it appear  to load faster than it actually does, but that’s only for you.

Lets put it into reality here to show how important load time is. Have a read at this:

According to research if your blog takes more than 3 seconds to load you are losing around 40% of your visitors.

That rate goes to 90% if it takes more than 8 seconds to load.

rumblingImprove load time of your blog

A 40% loss of traffic is bad, a 90% loss is ridiculous!

For Google an increase in page load time from 0.4 second to 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20%. For Amazon every 100 ms increase in load times decreased sales with 1%.

Gabriel Svennerberg

What a fickle bunch we are!

Fortunately, with a little bit of graft, a few excellent wordpress plugins and some handy applications and extensions, addressing your blogs loading time shouldn’t be a big issue and can be addressed quite simply IF you are able to code.  There are a few plugins that are helpful, but they can only do so much unfortunately.

Fist of, check out the post 40 essential tips for wordpress blogs – Joost De Valk and the first section:

Making your WordPress Blog FAST

and

Maintaining your WordPress Blog

Done that?  Good.

Now here are a few other handy tools and firefox plugins and google apps you can use to go a little deeper and get that blog load time even lower.

**Before we start I would suggest you keep a note of this page address as this process requires you to restart your browser a few times to complete installations. Wouldn’t want you getting lost half way through would we!**

If you want the short version of this and don’t need to follow all the info and instructions  below I thought it would be a good idea to do an overview for those folks who like things in a convenient short list:

  • Downlod install Firefox
  • Install Firebug
  • Install YSlow
  • Install Google Page Speed
  • Open your site
  • Activate FireBug
  • Along the FireBug options bar choose the extension and run
  • Digest the data and address the errors

Now for more details.

Page Load time extensions guide

The first thing you will need is to Download and install Firefox to use these apps.

Once your done, you will need this handy plugin for the browser called FireBug (an essential tool for any designer or developer anyway). Once its installed you will be able to activate the extension by clicking the little bug icon in the bottom right of your browser screen while you have your website open.

firebug-extension

When you open the extension you will end up with a screen like this:

firebug-extension-optionsClick the image to enlarge

FireBug alone is a great plugin for editing CSS code but its the next two extensions that address the page load time.

YSlow – blog load time analysis

Yahoo!’s rules for high performance web site.

Install the extension YSlow. This extension focuses on Yahoos criteria for page load times and will report back on errors and areas to be addressed on your blog.

Once you have it installed you will see the icon for the extension beside the FireBug icon in your browser window.

yslow-extension

Open your site and while viewing hit the YSlow icon to be presented with this:

yslow-extension-options

Run the test on your blog to begin the analysis and get a report on items that need to be addressed. Each area is graded from A to F, A being perfect and F being bloody terrible. All the results can be filtered by:

  • CONTENT (* Number of errors detected)
  • CSS (*)
  • IMAGES (*)
  • JAVASCRIPT (*)
  • SERVER (*)

As you click through each section it will display a list of problems and a short description of  what the error and how to resolve it.  More details are available to help you understand the error and address it directly.

At this stage your own your own im afraid as each site will be completely unique in the fixes that it may require.

*Special thanks to Ian Miller for pointing this extension out to me.

Google Page Speed

Googles open source code for best practice web page performance

Never ones to miss a trick Google, of course,  also have a FireFox extension available to evaluate your page performance and offer analysis and suggestions on errors to be addressed. Just like YSlow, the extension requires FireBug to be installed in order to work, so since we have covered that lets go straight to the download page and install it.

Install the Google Page Speed extension.

Once thats complete, open your blog or site and activate Firebug:

firebug-extensionYou will be presented with something like this. Click on the highlighted otpion, Page Speed:

google-page-speedClick on the image to enlarge

You will be presented with this, just hit the button to begin the analysis:

google-page-speed-analyze

And low and behold your presented with a report and details of all the errors that need to be addressed on your page to make it load faster evaluate the page speed. The interface is easy to understand and review and clicking on the titles will open a page with explanations and definitions to the error with recommendations on how to address them.

Clicking the “+” icon opens a list of all the pages affected by the error or causing it.

Again, your basically on your own here as each and every page will be unique in the issues that need to be addressed.

Addressing load time issues

All these options may seem a little overwhelming at first, but take you time and address the points you can do quickly and easily to begin with. Doing this should make a noticeable difference on your page load time immediately.

Some of the errors will simply boggle your mind and really I would be surprised if there’s any page out there without errors or points that could be optimised. Try running it on your Google search page to see what I mean, it even has errors and warnings.

The point it that all this is about optimising the page, not making it 100% completely perfect. Its about doing the best you can to make the time to load as little as it can be and in combination with the plugins on the other post mentioned above it should help get that load time down to a more than acceptable level for your visitors.

Best of luck all, and as per usual, I would love any comments or feedback, suggestions or points to this post, so don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I have missed or could expand upon.