10 easy steps to a faster website

After web design SLC wrote a few articles on website performance I thought I’d see how bad the skeleton is in my own closet and run a few tests on my own blog. It turns out to be worse than I thought.

WordPress itself is pretty fast, if all you have is the 2010 theme and a few pages of posts. But if you have 10 extra plugins and a complex custom theme it can get pretty slow pretty fast. Fortunately it turns out not to be too hard to fix. Most of these suggestions apply to all websites not just ones powered by WordPress.

1. Test Page load time

There are many tools to test and analyse your page’s load time. There’s YSlow, PageSpeed, Google Chrome includes a built-in site audit feature in it’s developer tools. There are many websites that will also test and analyse your site for you without the need to download anything. The ones I use include WebpagetestYotta and Showslow. The latter two are particularly useful because they will analyse your website overtime from several different locations around the world and alert you of any performance abnormalities. Webpagetest.org is useful because it instantly test your site and gives very detailed reports of load time and performance problems. It also performed its tests using IE so it lets you target the  worst offender when it comes to browser speed. I will be using it to measure how my site changes as we go through these steps.

The initial test is here. Notice I selected to run the test 10 times so we can get a more accurate picture of the performance. Analysis of the median run is below:

So we have a time to first byte of 0.587s. A start render time of 2.3s. Document complete at 3.386s after 33 requests and 341KB.  The time to first byte is basically the time it takes for the web server to generate the page and start sending it to the browser, it’s best to make this happen as soon as possible it shows the user that something is happening and will be done soon. We can see that there is much room for improvement as there are many small css and js files that are loaded one after the other and each requests takes a minimum of 60ms.

2. Enable Gzip compression and browser caching.


Setup VPS with Debian, Nginx and Virtualmin

I recently upgraded my VPS to use Nginx and Virtualmin and found it to be a killer setup. Nginx is superfast in a low memory setup and Virtualmin GPL edition is a powerful and free control panel which I have found to be more intuitive than Cpanel. This setup works great with a reasonably priced ($5.95) 512 MB VPS from Burst.net. This guide will walk through what is required to setup a VPS with Debian, Nginx and Virtualmin.

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How to style input tag file uploads in Webkit (Chrome, Safari)

If you’ve ever been tasked with creating a consistent user experience across all web browsers you’ve probably had a real challenge styling form input elements. Historically IE has been the most challenging to style but with file input elements webkit is almost impossible to change it from the default “choose file” dialog. Typically the file input is styled by setting it’s opacity to 0 and absolute positing it over an image of a browse button with whatever style is desired. The downside of this is that is requires JavaScript to update a text input element after a file is chosen with the file selection dialog. This technique uses pure CSS to present a consistent interface to all major browsers with a few vendor CSS prefixes.
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How to get cash for old computers

If you’re like me you probably have a small or not-so-small collection of computer stuff most of which is obsolete, broken or both. Well now it’s possible to clean out your closet and get some cash for it as well. If you help your friends and neighbors get rid of their old computer junk it could become a significant amount of cash thanks to cash for electronic scrap.
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Cheap VPS ~ 512mb for $5.36/month

If you need root access but don’t want to any more than a shared hosting account price then check out burst.net. I have found them to be reliable and fast with reasonable support.
UPDATE: Now till end of Augest get %10 off any Linux or Windows VPS  in any location. Use promotion code “summer10”. Check their twitter feed for more promotions. So instead of $5.95/Month you can get a 512MB VPS for $5.36/Month and this rate is not limited to the first 3 months or 6 months it is used as long as you keep the product.
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Use webp images with jpeg fallback

Behold the Power of WebP

If the below image has “webp” in the corner your browser can display WebP. If it has “jpeg” it is because your browser cannot show WebP images but the user experience remains the same. webp is a new image format pioneered by Google based on the VP8 video codec to reduce the download size of images on the web. What I am presenting is a way to offer WebP images to browsers that support them while falling back to jpegs so that visitors still have the same user experience.
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Install X11 on OS X 10.4 Tiger Without the Install DVD

I’m always surprised how hard it is to install standard open source packages on OS X and X11 is no different. Installing it on 10.4 is virtually impossible without the original installation DVD which I never have handy. I got this from James Martin but thought it needed an extra mirror because it was painfully slow downloading it from online casinos there. Here it is for your convenience.
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Eshop Authorize.net AIM Integration

Eshop is a nice ecommerce plugin for WordPress but it does not support taking credit card information directly on the site but redirects the customer to Authorize.net site or Paypal or some other online payment processing. I had a need to accept cards without redirecting the customer to a external site so I wrote a patch for Eshop. Download patch here
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Superfast embedded fonts with @font-face

Now that font embedding is supported in all major browsers it has become increasingly common thanks to the bulletproof embedding technique for programmers, since programming is really a popular profession now a days, and many companies are looking for the best programmers for their business, but too hire the best technical talent you can visit @codestaff.io. and find the best online casino professionals. However embedded fonts can add several milliseconds if not whole seconds and can even block rendering if not done correctly. Here you will find how to mitigate the performance implications if not eliminate them completely.
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