Back in February of this year (2006, for those of you from the future), we covered a topic over at my little blog and at the Alliance about speeding up your blog. Lots of people found it useful ... which means perhaps I'm not totally useless. Despite what the ex- says.It seems that, as useful as it appears to have been to some people, others didn't see it, and have inquired about ways to speed up the loading of their blogs. We could point them to the original posts. Or we could write a brand-new post about the same thing.
Guess which way we chose? Yep, we're doing a re-write. And calling it a new post. We're plagerising ourselves. But we're not pressing charges.
Instead, we're pressing forward with a discussion about speeding up your blog.
There are actually several things that can cause your blog to load ... or appear to load ... slowly.
One of the biggest culprits is graphics. For example, a 10K graphic doesn't take all that long to load. But it's not very much. But consider 10K of text. That's a heckuva lot of text.
I'm NOT suggesting you not use graphics. Instead, I'm asking that you consider when it's appropriate to use graphics.
Lots of people use background images. That's all well and good ... if it contributes to your appearance.
Some have all kinds of graphics scattered from Hell to Breakfast on their pages. Consider, is it junk? Or is it useful? Many times, people get the idea to add a graphic they like to their blog. But often, after doing this two or three times, you end up with a patchwork blog.
If your blog is slow, look at your graphics. Do they work? That is, do they make your blog appealing? If not, consider doing a cleanup. And that might mean dumping some of your graphics.
While many blogging platforms, such as TypePad, MovableType, WordPress (including WordPress.com) and others offer ways of adding links grouped together ... and Blogger, WordPress (excluding WordPress.com), MovableType (including TypePad Premium) and other platforms allow you to directly add HTML links in your sidebar, many also allow you to insert HTML code from a blogroll service, such as BlogRolling.com.
That's a good thing, many times. But the "local" or "native" blogroll methods (WordPress links, TypePad TypeLists, and so on) load faster, because the code is ready to display.
BlogRolling.com code, however, must contact BlogRolling.com's servers, get the information for you, compile it, then send it back to you to display in your sidebar. And if BlogRolling.com is slow, that slows your down.
Now, I happen to be a fan of BlogRolling.com. I like much of what they offer. So much so, that I use their paid service, not their free service. To me, it's worth it. To others, it isn't. But the paid service isn't any faster than the free service. And, sometimes, it slows down your page.
Consider if you want to use a service like BlogRolling.com, or handle the blogroll yourself. Doing it yourself will almost always load and display faster.
Other Third Party Code
In addition to BlogRolling.com's blogrolls, many people use NZ Bear's The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem code. It allows the blog's Ecosystem status to be displayed. But, like BlogRolling.com, the code has to make contact with TTLB, get the data, compile it, and then display it on your blog. And when TTLB is slow, it slows you down.
If you're an Alliance member, there's not a lot you can do about that, if you choose to display your current TTLB status by using NZ Bear's code. But there is something you can do. More about that is a little bit. Be patient.
In addition to TTLB, Alliance members must have SiteMeter code. And that's sometimes slow, although my experience shows it's less likely than most to be a source of slow loading.
Google Ads can do the same thing. As can BlogAds code.
In fact, any third-party code can ... and likely will ... slow down the loading of your page. That's just a fact of life.
What To Do? What To Do?
Consider if you need all those graphics. If not, dump them.
Make note of all the third-party code such as blogrolls, countdowns, etc, that you have. If you can accomplish what you want without third-party code ... that will make things run faster.
Now, if all that's not enough, there are two other things you can do. But they won't be as easy. Not by a long shot.
Turning The Tables
One of the easiest and surest ways to make sure everything is placed exactly where you want on your page is to use tables. And tables do that very easily. And they are fairly simple to use.
But they are slow.
Okay, they aren't slow. They just look slow.
Everything in a TABLE tag displays once the whole table is loaded. Think about that. If your blog contains a table that in turn contains a slow component ... NOTHING in the table shows until everything is loaded!
That's the horrible secret about tables. It loads just as fast as code without tables. But it holds up the display of the contents. And that makes the top of your blog look as slow as the bottom of your blog.
Now, to dump tables, you'll probably want to replace them with DIV tags. And, no, we're not going to go over how to do that. You'll need to find out how elsewhere. (Told you it would be hard to do!)
Order In The Blog
Another thing that slows you down is the order your code is behind the scenes.
Consider this: Style sheets can allow different content to appear in different places.
For example, suppose you have a header, a left sidebar, a middle container, and a right sidebar.
Behind the scenes, those four pieces can appear in just about any order. That is, the code can be: header, middle, left, right ... even though it shows in the order header, left, middle, right.
And, no, we're not going to cover how to do all that. You'll have to find out elsewhere. Yes, it's long and involved.
But here's a tip: Use a template that someone has already provided for you. Many are written with the sidebars loading last, even if they appear to be first.
Also, if you decide you need to use third-party code, try to make it the last bit listed in the last sidebar listed. No, it won't load any faster, but positioned that way, it will reduce it's impact on the rest of your blog. Your blog will APPEAR to load faster. In fact, it's as slow as ever, just more efficient.
Here at this blog, Joe did something similar back in February. And it worked for him. He was able to clean up and actually make his blog load a little faster, but he also rearranged things, and made it more efficient ... making it appear to load even faster.
It took him some time to work it all through ... but he benefitted ... and so did you.