Refactoring RickBeckman.org

Update: I’ve disabled a few plugins (you’ll probably never miss them); I’m not sure which was slowing things down so much, but since doing so, the site loads 2-4 times faster for me, according to my page load timer. That’s a definite plus, but it isn’t a bandwidth savings and I’d still like to trim the fat in that area a little bit, to help out my visitors still afflicted with dial-up Internet (hi, Dad!).

I’ve considered doing this for quite some time, and if I don’t do it soon, it’s going to drive me crazy.

Fairly recently, I became aware of Yahoo!’s Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site; these best practices comprise 14 guidelines which, if followed, ought to provide an optimum experience for users of a website.

Using Yahoo!’s YSlow, I’ve been shown that currently RickBeckman.org is far from adhering to Yahoo!’s guidelines. Indeed, on only four of the guidelines does YSlow award the site with A grades; on two it gets Cs, two are not applicable (apparently), and on six the gets Fs.

So over the course of the next few days (though the process could take longer), I’m going to be refactoring things around here. If you read this site via the syndication feed, you shouldn’t notice too much (and thanks for subscribing — you rock!); if, however, you visit the site to read it, you’ll likely notice all sorts of changes.

It’s going to be interesting to see if there are any noticeable improvements in the site’s performance throughout the process; I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Fasterfox‘s page load timer throughout my experiments!

Edit to add: Actually, it may be a few days before any big changes are noticed at all; I’m going to set up a dummy blog to try out my ideas for optimizing this site, and once everything is working beautifully there, I’ll transfer the code over. Until then, sit tight!

[edit to add] Progress thus far: New style chosen, perfect “A” record in YSlow achieved (for all applicable points), and numerous style tweaks made. Stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “Refactoring RickBeckman.org”

  1. Hmm, interesting… Like you, the performance of my site has driven me crazy, but I just chalked it up partially to the hosting company and partially to posts that had embedded youtube videos and such. YSlow pointed out some areas for improvement, though. On the various points, I’m graded A or F, no in between. The hard part is that so much is within the WordPress core code or within themes/plugins, it’s hard to change, and if I do, it’ll be harder to upgrade them to newer versions down the road. Oh well…made a few changes that may help. Thanks for mentioning the link! Didn’t know that was out there.

  2. Actually, I seem to have gotten a huge boost in performance — the homepage loads anywhere from 3-4 times faster for me — by disabling the Text Link Ads plugin. The pocket change that program brought in each month isn’t worth having a site which creeps along like a sloth!

    And yes, it is unfortunate that plugins and the WordPress core output so much to the user, a lot of which is far from optimized. I’ve noticed in the source here at various times close to a dozen CSS declarations — externally linked sheets as well as inline style tags — in the header; the same occurs with JavaScript.

    I’ve been toying around with the thought of hacking the plugins in order to get their output more in line with what I’d like, but as you said, that could cause problems when it comes time to upgrade.

  3. I found yslow and firebug addon recently as well and had been trying every trick in the book.

    In the end i found out that my editing out parts of the template i didn’t need and then streamlining all the html and css and on top the biggest boost giver gziping it all i got the load time (according to http://www.websiteoptimization.com) down from 16.94secs for a T1 1.44Mbps to 2.82secs.

    So well chuffed but yslow still gives me a d :( i will be trying to streamline a bit more to squeeze out performance and i look forward to see how much more you can squeeze out.

    Lastly a point on plugins my site is based on joomla and i found that looking for the more developed ‘plugins’ that do the same thing created less of a load delay as they were more streamlined and in 99% of the time alot more better at what they do.

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