… so much so I am going to use it as a step by step on my own sites, adding my own non-technical-bloke experience, actions etc as I go.
I don’t Know if it is an acceptable practice to copy and paste the original post by Daniel Pataki into my post, to then use it as a walk through, but if he is the kind of guy who monitors back-links, and I expect he is, he can tell me to stop. I will send him a link to my completed work- through when i’m done anyway, he might be interested.
So why is it the best – and i’ve read plenty.
First up, it isn’t written in the ‘ten things that will revolutionise your website’ fashion. They are ok as far as they go, but often feel more like affiliate sales tools, or carefully balanced reviews, with just enough objectivity to make the selling of their own wares acceptable.
Second he does write as a tech who understands we are not all techs. He talks about the importance of good documentation, the easy blame game (host blames theme, theme blames plug in, and so on.
There probably is a third which i cant think of right now.
it is a huge list of tasks which will take time, and i don’t have as much time as i’d like to, so i’ll show where i’m up to, y’know, on the off chance somebody does stumble across it.
in daniel’s original article there are several useful paragraphs of pre-amble, which anybody wanting to give this a try would be best advised to read, but i’ll get straight on to the actionable points.
Have to start here by saying that an awful lot of points 1-10 either resolves itself or becomes a whole lot easier by the host decision a bit further down the page. I found a huge, huge, increase in everything – speed, support, flexibility, functionality, for 30€ more a month than it was costing me for a crappy shared plan. I expect many people looking at these types of issue will be spending a lot of time at their desk – and that 30€ might be an achievable spend.
You’ll see why when you get to it, but i’m not going to say exactly what i’ve got in case this seems like a masked affiliate pitch.
How to Increase Your Website’s Speed
I promised two sides to this coin: methods for developers and methods for non-developers. Note that this doesn’t mean that all tips for non-developers are easy to set up. I will be making the distinction based on how code-oriented the method is. Basically: anything that you need to do in the code of a theme or plugin will go into the developer section, everything else goes into the general section.
General Speed Increases
By general speed increases, I am referring to all the methods, tips and tricks you can perform without touching website code (themes and plugins). You may need to editor some server files and use terminal commands, but in general these speed increases will not be made by your developer, unless you have someone in-house who also knows a thing or two about servers.
Here’s a generous helping of things to do. I tried to follow the list I laid out in the “why is a website slow?” section to make things easier on you.
1. Update Your Core Technologies
99.99999999% of us won’t be able to optimize our PHP, but we can make sure it is updated. In my experience, the more expensive your host, the more rigorously they update PHP for you in a managed environment. Many lower end servers will actually update your PHP version if you ask, but won’t do it automatically.
If you take a look at some PHP benchmarks, for example, you can see why this is important.
As you can see, various updates to PHP itself can make a huge impact, especially with the upcoming PHP 7.
How to go about updating your PHP version will be different – depending on your host. If you log in to your host, search for “PHP Configuration”. You may find a select box which allows you to switch to different versions.
Currently, the latest stable release is version 5.6.9. Ideally you should be running something within 5.6, but making sure you are at least running 5.4 should be key.
Before you make the switch, there are some dangers to updating PHP. The code for your website and your files won’t unexpectedly disappear, but if you have very old code running, you may bump into unexpected issues. If you are uncertain, make sure to ask your host if you can downgrade if things go south.
i updated my php from 5.4 to 5.6 a couple of weeks ago. this was at the suggestion of my theme developer following a tough and problem strewn theme update.
i was obviously lucky. they didn’t mention any potential for problems. i did take the precaution of noting what the settings were in my old php, and checked the same boxes in the new one. again something they didn’t mention the need to do, and i know that if i hadnt added opcode back in, for example, it would have caused problems elsewhere.
the process of updating it was easy, but clearly the ramifications of it need to be understood.
we’re already past php 7 now, see how the hosting issue sidestepped the dangers, and for me the very real problems.
2. Update Your CMS
This one should go without saying by now, but I still see some sites running WordPress 3.5 for instance which is now 2.5 years old. CMS updates generally don’t provide a huge speed increase from one version to the next, but they do patch security issues.
Holes in your security can lead to malicious code being injected into your site which can make things slowly grind to a halt over time.
In addition, CMS updates tend to optimize the system, allowing better code to be written for it. As a result your database will be less crowded, your queries will be faster, translating to a speed increase average over time.
Again, don’t expect a speed jump going from WordPress 4.2 to 4.3 next month. What you can expect if you are diligent in your updates is a much longer time between speed decreases due to simple database congestion for example.
i am on the latest wordpress, and have not had any problems always adopting the latest version when available (but microsoft have taught me never to do so immediately – let somebody else have the problems they have to work out and issue fixes)
3. Decrease Requests
This is something we’ll be revisiting in detail in the developers’ section because it is much easier to fix while writing a theme or a plugin. There are some things you can do as a user to make things better, though.
First of all, to figure out how many requests your site is making you can use a bunch of tools. You can see all requests in your browser’s developer tools, or you can use a web-based tool like Pingdom to get a nice overview.
When adding content to your site you increase requests by adding images or other media items. You basically add one request per item.
If you add galleries to your posts and the first 5 images are displayed on your archive pages as well, you could be looking at as many as 60-70 requests on a single page.
If you are a photographer, an artist or an image loving person you probably don’t want to add fewer images. In these cases decreasing your posts per page settings, or showing fewer images on your archive lists may be a good way to go.
To decrease your posts per page go to the reading settings in WordPress and lower it to 8 or 6.
i reduced my max posts per page from 10 to 6 and reset my archive page to text only. i don’t like the look of it, but this isn’t about look at the moment. my intent is to follow all the guidance, then turn back on what i want to, noting its impact on pagespeed.
Consider cutting back on plugins that affect the front-end of the website. Many plugins add their own styles and scripts, disabling them will save you 1-2 requests if the plugin is well-coded or as many as 7-8 if it was a wasteful product.
plug ins are a double edged sword without doubt. definitely disable those you can do without whilst working through this process.
Switching themes could also save you a lot of requests, although in many cases this is not a viable option. I’ve noticed that premium themes in particular – ones that offer absolutely every feature – tend to load way too many scripts and styles unnecessarily.
oh my days yes. when starting out i went for a theme for whatever project that looked closest to what i wanted to achieve. big mistake.
the theme issue is not just about site speed, it is also your speed. a bad theme will cause all manner of frustrations and time wasted setting up new sites.
Trade and Business Themes by Independent Authors
i have four sites on themes falling under this category that i wouldn’t dream of buying now i know what i know.
despite that, if you are setting out they are an easier and quicker way to get a site suited for purpose online. the type of theme i would buy now would have been a complete mystery to me when setting out. the higher quality and ultimately much more flexible themes can seem very daunting simply in the vast array of options available alongside a blank page and no clue where to start.
below my suggested checklist to help select a theme which avoids as many of the pitfalls of these Trade and Business Themes by Independent Authors.
first a couple of examples of why they are often not the perfect solution they claim to be,
i have one particularly for a nightclub that seems to do just about everything it can do in as non-standard a way as possible. it clashes with everything and anything, and with modest sales of a couple of hundred or so the author has lost interest. so it now stands like some aging bouncer, who used to have it all, be flash jack the lad. but now he’s trying to do the same job while all around him younger fitter bouncers are coming along. he is getting fat, they are getting the girls, but he is too old and stupid to change his ways.
it is often the things that make them attractive to the new buyer that turn out to be the biggest pain in the long run, and the reason it is difficult to change. I have one for a restaurant where the food and drink menu feature is written in some freakishly strange and clumsy code i have never seen the like of which anywhere else. at the buying stage i just though ‘food and drink menu – great’ , without finding out it was the work of a developer who added freak to his geek. but to go to something less clanky would take many man hours the cost of which never feels justified – so instead we are still with it, adding our new dishes in a way that is like a victorian typesetter working next to a state of the art digital printing press.
to avoid these types of issues i suggest these points of consideration.
goto themeforest or similar. search for the industry – hairdresser, plumber, nightclub etc.
from the selection you then have available consider these points