Yes, I’m talking about the “30 day blogging challenge” I made up for myself. Well, technically yes…. aaaaand… no! Yes, because I did not write a blog entry yesterday and no, because regardless, I’ve spent a considerable percent of my limited free time on the website. So, what did I do? Well, first, I realized that the site is slooooowww…. And I mean really, crappy, slow. First, I thought it’s my ISP. Next, I tried blaming my hoster. I thought to myself “Hey, I’m running WordPress, which is the No.1 CMS system of the world, so my site can’t be slow, can it?” Well, it turned out, I was wrong – the site itself was slow. I’ve executed Google’s Site Speed Insights on the site and guess what I’ve found? A handful of issues to fix, all of them related to loading times, caching and so on. It turned out after all, that a vanilla WordPress installation is not optimized out of the box – not even a bit. (Well, maybe a bit… 🙂 ) Anyways, out of 100 points (where 100 means you’ve optimized the bejesus out of your site) iNi scored 21 points!
First, I’ve installed a plugin for caching – it’s called W3 Total Cache. Out of the box, it is configured quite nicely, but you can tweak it even further. Basically using this plugin has boosted my score up to around 40. Obviously I wasn’t satisfied with this, so I continued to find out what else could I tweak? At this point I’ve ended up with gzip compression – this is a new method you can leverage for having all the content sent to the browsers as gzip-compressed data, then be uncompressed on the fly by your browser. Needless to say this spares bandwidth and speeds up the website considerably. This had to be enabled on server side, using the cPanel interface provided by my hoster, DotRoll (these guys do an excellent service btw!). Compression bumped the site speed up a bit, but not much as I expected. Oh well… What next?
I’ve found out that I can tweak thumbnail generation for the gallery plugin I’m using to display images: NextGen Gallery. You can basically set how much the thumbnails should be compressed – just like you can set this in Photoshop, Paint.Net, etc. during saving JPEG images. After setting this to 70% instead of the default 100% (no compression), site speed bumped to 55+. Still slow, but damn, it’s almost 2.5x faster than it was!
And finally, I’ve ended up with bringing in the big guns – starting to use a CDN, in my case CloudFlare. Basically a CDN is a cache server – you route your site’s traffic over a CDN and it caches as much as it can from the site. CDNs are usually way faster than your own server, so long story short, you end up with a faster site. In my case this thing has just started, so currently CloudFlare only saves me around 30% bandwith (which is already a lot, but with time i’m expecting more!), so I’ll revisit this topic with the results after a few days of running my CDN…