Tag Archives: Optimization

Thinking Async

I’ve written about loading JavaScript asynchronously in the past, as it’s a great way to decrease load times and prevent hang-ups when third-party scripts don’t load properly. But Chris Coyier has went and compiled the definitive guide. It covers the basic concepts and reasons for doing it, as well as different methods for implementing it; the easy HTML5 way and using embedded scripts to inject a non-blocking call to an external script.

Its a nice long and informative article, and worth a look if you’re looking to do some performance optimization of web site. (Be sure to look into sprites after you’ve switched to loading JavaScript asynchronously!)

Thinking Async [CSS-Tricks]

Google Launches Page Speed Service

Google recently launched a Page Speed Service, an offering along similar lines to CloudFlare. You set up a CNAME to point your domain to their servers, which cache your pages and serve them at blazing speed. They also run everything through the lines of mod_pagespeed to lower file sizes. It’s basically like a CDN for your entire website.

Page Speed Service is an online service to automatically speed up loading of your web pages. Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe.

This is targeted mainly at people running small to medium sized websites, such as WordPress blogs, on shared hosting. The service takes the load off your server, so you don’t have to worry about it running slowly or going down from traffic.

Page Speed Service is currently in a trial period, where it’s free for anyone who wants to use it, but it may end up costing more in the future.

It will be interesting to see how this competes with CloudFlare, which offers more features and a free plan that is more than sufficient for most users. (You can pay $20/month for extra analytics and some more advanced features.) CloudFlare isn’t just trying to speed your site up, though. They also want to help protect it from DDoS attacks, email harvesting, and other unpleasantness. It already has quite a bit of traction.

Speed Up Your Site With Head JS

Head JS is a 2.3 kilobyte script that makes it easy to asynchronously load your JavaScript files to prevent blocking. It allows the browser to load the web page separately from the scripts, so the rendering process isn’t held up by the download.

Non-blocking loading is the key to fast pages. Moreover Head JS loads scripts in parallel no matter how many of them and what the browser is. The speed difference can be dramatic especially on the initial page load when the scripts are not yet in cache. It’s your crucial first impression.

If you have a JavaScript-heavy website, it’s worth taking a look at. If you take a look at the demo pages they have set up, the page that uses Head JS to load the scripts definitely displays much faster.

Head JS :: The only script in your HEAD [Head JS]

Prelovac’s WordPress Optimization Guide

Vladimir Prelovac has an excellent article on optimizing WordPress for speed available now. It covers plenty of bases, such as

  • Caching using WP Super Cache
  • MySQL Caching
  • Checking plugins for slowdowns
  • Optimizing tables

If you ever experienced slow WordPress admin panel, “MySQL server has gone away” message, pages taking forever to load or you want to prepare your site for a major increase in traffic (for example Digg front page) this is the guide for you.

It’s not an all-encompasing guide, of course. There are plenty of little tweaks you can do that can shave precious milliseconds off your loading times, such as cutting out unnecessary template tags, such as bloginfo() tags, and replacing them with the values they output.

And of course there are plenty of other things to tweak. PHP, Apache, and MySQL can all be configured carefully for maximum speed, assuming you have root access to your server. You can optimize your templates to decrease loading and rendering times. Yahoo has a few tips.

Performance optimization is always a good idea, especially if your blog is on a shared hosting account, or if you have a very high traffic blog (I’m talking to you, TechCrunch and Mashable!).

Website Optimization by Andrew B. King [Book Review]

O’reilly Press puts out some really good tech books. So I grabbed Andrew B. King’s Website Optimization when I saw it at the library a few days ago. It was pretty good, though not my favorite of their books. I enjoy the ‘Hacks series (PHP Hacks, Podcasting Hacks, etc) more, but they have some other good books too.

Website Optimization is worth a read if you’re trying to get more from your website. The book covers several aspects of optimization. Search engines, loading times, conversion rates, and a little bit on accessibility. There is a heavy emphasis on Search Engine Optimization of course.

It’s a pretty good book, and is very informative, but I have to disagree with some of the SEO advice. The book seems to promote the idea of being stingy when linking to external sites, in an effort to hoard PageRank, linking reciprocally, and making use of the nofollow attribute excessively. Then the book goes and tells you that blogs are a good way to get more inbound links.

I can tell you that an attitude like that regarding links will get you nowere fast. If you want to get links, you must give them first. Link to things that you think will be of interest to your users. The sites you link to will then learn about your site when they find some traffic coming in from your site. Nofollow shouldn’t be used to cripple links you place on your site either. It should be for things like blog commenters’ posted URL’s, which weren’t added by you, and therefore you may not want to recieve PageRank points. As for reciprocal linking, don’t bother. Google thinks reciprocal linking schemes are generally of little interest to the end user, and are therefore discounted when ranking pages.

Other than my minor complaints about some of the linking advice given, it’s a pretty good book.

7 Simple SEO Tips For Bloggers

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, most bloggers fall into three groups.

  1. SEO Maniacs – They’re obsessed with improving their PageRank, and driving up their rankings using any means possible. A.K.A. John Chow before Google caught-on.
  2. The SEO Disinclined – The sort who just blog and ignore the SEO aspect.
  3. The SEO Neutral – Serious bloggers who do a little SEO, but don’t focus on it that much.

No matter which group you fall into, consider implementing the following tips.

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8 Tips For a Blazing-Fast Blog

No one actually likes waiting. Some of us are just better at it than others.

The internet seems to be a parallel reality where time passes differently, slow at times, fast at others. Web pages seem to take eons to load, no matter how fast your internet connection is. I remember having to wait more than a minute for most pages to load (that was back when I had dial-up). Nowadays I have a DSL connection that generally runs in the 700k-900k range. It’s a lot faster, but not fast enough. Sure, some pages load lightning-fast, but others still seem to crawl along. While they’re not taking over a minute to load, it sure seems like it.

While you’re using the web, time flies by overly quick. It seemed like it was taking an hour for that video to load, but it was really only five minutes. So why is it four o’clock? Oh yeah, you logged-on to World of Warcraft for a few minutes… But how does that come-out to be an hour?

Do you get what I’m saying?

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AdSense Placement (and Styling) for Bloggers

Google AdSense is the biggest and most-used ad network among bloggers. As you’ll know already, it’s based off a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model where the placement of the ad units drastically affects earnings. Want to make more money off your ads? Keep reading.

So how should you place your AdSense blocks? The three most important rules to remember are

  • Pick a good ad format, as they tend to have different click rates.
  • Position the ads near content or navigational elements, where people will notice them.
  • Style the ads so they blend-in. If your ads are obviously ads, your users’ eyes will steer around them. If your blog has black text with blue links, then your ads should too.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.

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