How To Blog: Speeding Up My Site, From D to (Almost) A, Part 2 of 3

How To Blog:  Site Speed-Up, Part 2 – Configuring W3 Total Cache

When Learning How To Blog - You Don't Want to Leave Out the Optimization Tips for Better Speed

Even with a relatively inexpensive shared hosting package, if you take a few extra minutes, you can make a world of difference in how quickly your users see your pages. Watch your “bounce” rate plummet!

So, picking up from Part 1 of this series of posts focused on what the real world results you can expect by applying best practices to speed up a heretofore previously unoptimized WordPress site, I moved on to the next phase of the tutorial (Again, that can be found here.):

Configuring W3 Total Cache

Being the curious sort, before continuing, I wanted to see what had been impacted thus far in the YSlow results…

I received the same results, but chalked it up to the fact that I was testing from within the same browser as I was logged into the site doing the config or perhaps just that I had not completed enough of the steps to make a difference.  My curiosity would just have to wait.

Now it was time to apply further tweaks to the Caching program features which had been turned on.

ANOTHER NOTE:  After you have applied the initial settings in W3 Total Cache, when the tutorial tells you to go to “Minify” –what he means is to select the Minify tab from the left side navbar, NOT the “Minify” at the top of the page.  Threw me off there for a minute.

One other item of note, I am guessing since the toot was first written, W3 Total has been updated.  The tutorial suggests setting the “Expires Header Lifetime” to 691200, but the default number in W3 is already at 31536000, which is obviously larger.  I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad, so I Googled.  According to what I dug up, leaving it at the W3 default is the preference, so I did.

After applying what was suggested, I ran YSlow again, and what do you know?!  The grade was now a C and the overall performance was up to 77.  Not world shattering, but not too shabby for about 10 minutes of work.

I also had a sneaking suspicion that one social bookmarking plugin was perhaps causing some of the drag.  To test out my theory – I deactivated the plugin (Bookmarklet by the way), and ran YSlow again.  Sure enough – the site was now a grade B with overall performance rating of 84.  The number of HTTP requests being sent was reduced significantly and the YSlow grade for “Make Fewer HTTP Requests” went from a grade F to a C.

Goes to show you, you really need to look at the plugins you use to see if they are well optimized or not.

I decided before digging back into the remainder of the optimization tutorial, to bang around the site a bit to see if the minifying process had broken anything.

It was satisfying to move from page to page and feel the significant improvement in response.  Better yet, with the exception of the dog slow social media toolbar plugin, all of the site features were working as expected.


I had successfully moved from an F to a B, things were working as they were supposed, and I still had a few more tweaks in the tutorial to go!

This turned out to be a worthy endeavor indeed.


Part 3:  Dealing with the Site Database & Image Optimization.

Missed Part 1?  Check it Out Here:  Installing Caching Plugin and YSlow

(Spoiler:  I was ultimately able to increase my YSlow score to just shy of an A and cut my home page download size by almost half!

Performance is now solidly in the “acceptable” range, so it doesn’t look that I have be investing in a more expensive hosting package.

So be sure to come back and find out how it went!  You can always subscribe to the site RSS feed and use Outlook or your favorite reader to see the new posts.)

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