I was about to give up on this blogging adventure right before writing this. I often get frustrated with the technical part, but this time it was worse than adding a widget or changing colors: my blog was very, very (very) slow. A shameful one minute slow.
Google considers any page speed above one second to be slow, so you can imagine how I was feeling.
I first looked for a tool that would give me a more accurate “diagnose”. YSLOW from Yahoo, an add-on for Firefox that operates inside Firebug is very good. YSLOW analyzes your speed and points to the issues you need to solve.
These were mine:
Video and pictures: too many, too heavy
I reviewed my pictures and found some that were too big. Less than 100k per page is recommended. I don’t use anything that is more than 1000 pixels (width or height). I resize them to 600×400 at the max. (resizing them with html won’t be enough, you have to upload them already downsized).
In my case, too many pictures was not a big problem because I just use one per post. But if you have a photography site you may need a separate server for pictures.
Pay attention to what is going on in your home page. It is the place where you want to have your best, branded, optimized design. Where all your site is represented. And also the one that can really slow you down. In my quest for speed I had to get rid of the beautiful photo tiles of my header that gave my site its special character.
If you want videos, I think it is better to just link to YouTube instead of uploading directly onto your website. YouTube provides a link to embed and that’s it. If your web has video as the main attraction then you should probably consider a separate server too.
Widgets and plug-ins
Widgets can also add weight. No more than 20 are recommended for a small site or blog like mine. So I had to review my plugins and I kept those I needed the most. I removed my beloved Jetpack, a whole package of interesting widgets, including my stats. Hélàs.
Once I did this I could see some recovery in time. The only remaining issue was my domain. It was time to face the truth and admit that I had not properly moved my blog from a my previous (free) platform to a new web hosting service.
I had set up the domain in a very inconsistent way: It was http://www.onlinista.com in the old platform, and http://onlinista.com in the new one. Then, again, http://www.onlinista.com in my side blog´s (settings).
They were redirecting from one to another, adding seconds to the site loading process.
I requested the server to consider indifferently both www and non-www, and changed my blog´s settings to mirror the shorter http://onlinista.com I had chosen for the new web hosting service. You can read here how this happens and what to do.
The culprit: remember that first old free website…?
Everything was looking better now, YSLOW indicated a greater speed score (B) and I saw improvement. But only 24 hours later it happened again: although it wasn’t as slow as before, the loading appeared to get stuck somewhere eternally and was moving on after several seconds.
And finally I found out while was checking my traffic stats on Google Analytics. I realized Google was still calling my site http://www.onlinista.wordpress.com. Why? This was a not verified site that I had left behind a long time ago, even when I was still blogging from wordpress.com.
For some reason WordPress was not letting go of me. I accessed my old profile and the reason was that this old free domain was still set as the primary one in wordpress.com and was never going to disappear. Well, I killed it: I went to Tools-delete site and deleted after a bunch of warnings and suggestions from wordpress.com. Maybe they were right but the second I deleted that old domain my site was up to speed.