Blogging: Strategies for reducing page loading time

slow page loading time infuriates

It’s important for bloggers to keep in mind that at least half of all internet users are currently using dial up connections.

What that means to us is that half of our visitors are downloading the pages at about 3-4 kilobytes per second. And it’s estimated that if a page has not loaded with within 3- 5 seconds we can stand to lose one third of our visitors.

The question of whether broadband will replace dial-up residential service for Internet connectivity is not the issue. Someday, the vast majority of connections will be full-time, high-speed connections using one of the emerging broadband technologies. And the majority of the Internet industry is devoting substantial efforts and resources to make that happen more quickly.

This effort, however, does not automatically spell the end of dial-up connectivity. For starters, the explosion of broadband is limited to a handful of countries that include the US, Australia, Canada and Japan. In great Britain, for example, broadband connections account for only about one percent of the residential Internet market. By most estimates, and these are very conservative, there will be a healthy market for dial-up residential and small business accounts for years to come. — Dave McClure, President, US Internet Industry Association

Online page loading time checkers and other tools

  1. NetMechanic
  2. Page Speed
  3. Pingdom Tools
  4. Webmaster Tools
  5. Web Page Analyzer
  6. WebPagetest
  7. YSlow

Readers tips:

Use Yslow, Firebug and PageSpeed (Firefox addons) to analyze your site’s load time and make improvements – JP of  codeforexcelandoutlook

With Site-Perf.com, you get an accurate, realistic, and helpful estimation of your site’s loading speed ( images, CSS, JS and other files)  – Ishan of  bloggingwithsucess

(1) Reduce the size of images, the number of media embeds and the number of widgets running script

Your blog’s load time will increase in accord with the number of images, videos, other media embeds and the number of widgets running script you have on your blog. Images, flash and sometimes even sound files can draw visitors but do you really need all that you have now? If you don’t need sharp resolution, choose GIFs over JPEGs, as GIFs load more quickly. JPGs are generally best for photos, GIFs for anything else. Reduce the number of widgets, embeds. Optimize and decrease the size of your images or use thumbnails that link to the full-size image.

Readers tips:

Keeping the images in their native sizes will help with load time. Resize and optimize  all images to the exact size they will be in the blog before uploading them.  – Aveccioni of spagettiboxkids

(2) Limit the number of scripts

Your blog’s load time will increase in accord with the number of JavaScripts you have running on your blog. JavaScript files load differently than other HTML elements. While HTML is loading, the rest of the page continues to download. But in the case of JavaScript the element must completely load before the rest of the page can continue. To counter this problem, place all JavaScript files at the end of a document.

Reduce the amount of javascript running on your blog; put all javascript at the bottom of your blog; and if you have third party javascript and links in your sidebar, then put them in at the bottom of the sidebar. There’s a WP plugin called “JavaScript To Footer” that can do this.

(3) Use excerpts and/or limit the number of posts on front page

Your blog’s load time will increase in accord with the number of posts you display on your main page. To reduce blog loading time use the “read more” tag in your posts and display only excerpts there, and/or reduce the number of posts on your front page.

(4) CSS

You can use CSS to improve your web sites load time. With your styles in an external .css file, the browser can cache all the formatting and stylizing for your pages instead of having to read each and every single tag all over again. This reduces lengthy tags and replaces them with smaller class styles instead. Combine your background images into a single image and use the CSS background-image and background-position properties to display the desired image segment. If you add any custom CSS to your blog, make sure it validates.

Readers’ tips:

Use a theme that loads content before sidebars. Many optimized themes do this and if you choose a theme with right sidebar, it is automatically done.

The most important thing (for hosted blogs) is using a good host. No matter how much optimization is done, if server is slow, nothing will work!

Reference: Optimizing Page Load Time

Update:

Additional  Reference –  Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site

Related post found in this blog: Page loading time: A new ranking factor

39 thoughts on “Blogging: Strategies for reducing page loading time

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  4. Glad I stumbled upon this post. I’ve been having lots of performance headaches with my site. Very useful points that I can implement. Thanks for the insights.

  5. Does anyone know the answer to this? I was able to upload and view my video in a post last night and now today it keeps loading- in other words, the wheel continues to spin- and no video. Anyone out there know what to do? It’s not that large of a file at all. 164 MB and 320×240 pixels.

    Thank you so much,
    Brooke

  6. I made a few micro-optimizations to my site and got a grade of 87 from YSlow. Here’s what I did:

    1) Deactivated a few plugins I don’t need, and deleted them completely (WP 2.8 makes it easy to delete inactive plugins)
    2) Minified my CSS and PHP.

    Obviously more work needs to be done, but it’s an improvement. I also plan to go through all 190+ posts from my blog and move the images to photobucket. This is to reduce my bandwidth usage more than improve site loading time.

  7. Another good and very detailed tool for analyzing web page speed is You can test various connection speeds with it and exact time each segment takes to load.

    For hosted WordPress users, I suggest using Scissors plugin to crop and resize images. It cuts out 70% size while retaining quality. WP Super Cache is also a good option.

    Using CSS instead of javascript can help sometimes in loading times. A good example is the navigation menu. With simple CSS code, a drop down menu can be created which does not use as much resources as javascript.
    Also, another useful technique is placing javascript(tracking codes like Analytics) in footer.

    To overcome widgets loading problem, one excellent tip Daniel Scocco ( Daily Blog Tips owner) once gave is to use a theme that loads content before sidebars. Many optimised themes do this and if you choose a theme with right sidebar, it is automatically done!

    And last and most important thing(for hosted blogs) is using a good host. No matter how much optimization is done, if srver is slow, nothing will work!

    Great Post with useful advice!

    • @Ishan
      Excellent points! (*she does a little happy dance*) Thank you so much for adding the value you did to this post. :)

      I’m updating my resources pages and will include the links you provided.

  8. Something else I do is to make sure all my photos are loaded as the size they will appear in my posts (I re-size them in photoshop before I load them). That way they don’t have to be re-scaled every time the page loads.

    Great article. Cheers!

    AV

    • Good one. That’s a big issue.

      Not only is this good for load time, but it makes the blog look ALOT better. I always suggest touchups of some sort on the pictures you use.. for me it’s also about resizing but I like to also make the background transparent..

      with free clip are this is usually very easy since it’s not colorful. This is more difficult with purchased pictures.

      I go off on tangents but yes, great comment – keeping the images in their native sizes will help with load time.

      • @avecchioni & codesucker
        I love it when readers go off on tangents that lead to useful information exchange. ;)

        Excellent points! (*she does a little happy dance*)

  9. I read in other site there is wp-cache plugin for wordpress to quick uploading pages.

    • @Membuat Web
      Indeed and for bloggers who are self -hosting wordpress.ORG software on their own domains using such a plugin is an option. Hoever, for wordpress.COM blogger it isn’t an option. We cannot upload individual plugins on this multiuser blogging platform.

  10. My results in the web page analyser were truly terrifying! I need to think carefully about what I can do to improve. My site will probably always be fairly slow because it’s image heavy but still…

    • @Bird
      I just visited your blog and the loading time was long indeed. What I observed is that the meadow background which “tiles” is really slow to load. Have you considered removing it? Also you do have the ability to use the “read more” tag as your posts have many large images in them and that would help.

  11. I have only recently discovered that blogspot CSS never validates and this has made me seriously reconsidered to switch to wordpress.com altogether.

    Loading time seems to be a very important factor in blogging world as I have discovered this from stumbleupon statistic regarding the “thumb down rate” associated with loading time of some of my blogs …

    • @roentarre
      Yes, it’s sad but true. One can create a brand new blogspot blog and discover the “out of the box” templates have over 300 validation errors. :(

      I’m not clear if there’s a shortcut to determine which templates actually validate without using the trial and error method. Perhaps a blogger has done a review of the “off the shelf” Blogger templates and used validation as one of the review criteria. If so this information would certainly be a boon to many blogspot bloggers.

  12. Does any reader here have a dial-up connection to test out load times in the real world?

    Ours is an ecard site based on photographic images. So taking images off the page to reduce load time is not realistic.

    On a dial-up connection I think it would be quicker for the visitor to grab a camera, take a photograph, have it developed at the local store, and paste it on the screen while waiting for our pages to render.

  13. This article really hits the mark. When I was designing web sites for a government agency everything was still pretty much dial-up so I was always conscious of load times. Developers still need to keep that in mind as they design sites.

    You are correct in identifying the two biggest offenders are graphics and scripts, something bloggers should think about when they put in all those badges, boxes, and scripts that add no content but do really slow things down.

    • @windroot
      IMHO there are many bloggers out there who don’t have a clue about how many folks are on dial-up service. Most rural dwellers in North America do not have broadband access. Yet, I frequently find that North American bloggers, who live in big cities, assume everyone does have broadband access.

      When that lack of awareness is combined with a penchant for adding decorative but useless widget, badges and other “tat” that does nothing for readers, but provides a backlink to a site from whence the “tat” came, I scratch my head and try to think of a tactful way to tell the blogger in question to “house clean” their blog. In many cases, I just can’t find the right words so I remain a silent and alienated reader clocking out with no intention of returning.

  14. Most bloggers (even popular ones like Raincoster) have blogs that take aeons in loading! It is good to use the more tag in posts after the first paragraph. Most of my friends have 10 posts on home page [without more tag] and it is a real torture! I have only 6-7 posts on my home page now and I just saw my web page speed report and the result is more or less okay (I’ve overcome my love of widgets).

    You have 3 posts on home page that facilitates easy loading but when someone clicks on category the number of archived posts showing on a page is also three! But you have an ‘all posts’ page which comes in handy. I am going to create one on my blog and also leave a suggestion to WP to create such a page/widget for all blogs.

    • @Vikas
      Congrats! on getting over the widget addiction. It’s not an easy affliction to overcome. I no longer endure the “torture” of waiting for blogs to load. When I have a “waiting – waiting – waiting” experience I offer my advice. Sometimes bloggers act on it and sometimes they don’t cotton to making changes to their personal playgrounds. If I really like the post content then I subscribe, which means I rarely visit or comment. If the content isn’t that compelling then I depart and never return.
      See: point number 3 in http://onecoolsite.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/blogging-how-to-lose-me-as-a-reader/

  15. Great tips, and here are some more:

    1- Use a CDN to spread HTTP requests across multiple domains.
    2- Use Yslow, Firebug and PageSpeed (Firefox addons) to analyze your site’s load time and make improvements
    3- (If using WordPress) Use less plugins.
    4- Re: your point #2, there’s a WP plugin called “JavaScript To Footer” that can do this for you.

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