Blogging Tips: A Faster Loading Site (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Blogging Tips: A Faster Loading Site

The first part of the article was pretty simple stuff and something every site can utilize. This part is going to get more technical but will also be where you may see the biggest impact so hang in with me here.

As mentioned before, I’m a WordPress user and one of the things I love about WordPress is plug-ins. There are, I kid you not, 16,924 plug-ins available for WordPress and they’re free. Anyway, in my pursuit to reduce my blog’s size I started looking at compression. It’s a very simple thing to implement and has a huge impact. I found a plugin called Improve My Load Times and what it does is sets WordPress to use gzip compression. With gzip compression it takes your entire site and puts it into a buffer, compresses the data and returns it. The returned data is compressed and so it’s smaller and in turn faster. It’s a tiny plug-in with a big impact. Once I turned this on I saw my blog’s file size reduce by around 300KB; that’s significant.

A note with this plug-in, the problem with it is it also uses the compression in the admin area of WordPress. It sounds good because it means the admin area will also be faster but the problem I found with it is it messes up your plug-in installation process for future plug-ins you install. It really just causes a…cosmetic issue, yet it is annoying. I modified the plug-in so it only loads on the front end of your site, not the admin area, to resolve this issue. If any WordPress users are interested in my modifications then just hit me up.

For other blogging platforms I’m not sure if a plug-in like this exists but it very well may. Just do a search on gzip compression and see what you come up with. It really is a very simple thing so I’m sure it’s been done for other platforms. If you’re a programmer, or just enjoy messing with sites, then take a look at this. It’s easy to do if you have access to your site’s files.

JavaScript on your site can cause longer load times and greatly increase the size of your site depending on what you’re doing with it. This is really notable for WordPress users because of a very large library that needs to be loaded to do some of the cool stuff WordPress does. This particular library is jQuery, you may have heard of it. There are other scripts WordPress also uses, as well as plug-ins you may install. There’s a WordPress plug-in called Use Google Libraries and what it does is just what it sounds like. Instead of using the libraries for JavaScript that come with WordPress, if it can it will use the same libraries found on Google. Why this matters is because the versions Google has are already compressed, so smaller and load faster. Plus, because so many of us frequent Google we already have these scripts cached on our computers and in turn require no loading at all.

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In installing this plugin my blog reduced another 200KB in size.

Again, for those not using WordPress you may find a plug-in of this nature already out there. Using Google’s JavaScript libraries isn’t a new or obscure thing. If you’re handy with sites and want to read more about it, it’s a simple thing to implement, check this out.

So, between these two things I reduced the size of this blog by 500KB. Factor in the size savings mentioned in the first part of the article and that’s 700KBs worth of reduction.

The third part of this article will cover some more information about JavaScript and general tips useful for anyone.

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