Confession: When making blogging plans for this year I was suddenly struck by something–this blog is called Cornerstone CONFESSIONS but I have rarely ever CONFESSED anything.
Oh sure, I have talked about how my once unorganized world turned into an organized euphoria and how I function curriculum-wise as a homeschool mom, but confessions? Rarely….until today. Yes, my number one start for this New Year–more confessions on Cornerstone CONFESSIONS. So today please forgive me but I’m so excited to get started that I think I have more than a few confessions to share in this 144 Plan beginning. By the way, if these next few posts don’t happen to be right up your alley, stick with me, because next month is going to be a doozy that nearly all of us will be able to get into. With that said, let’s get started shall we?
Confession: I would really like to attend a blogging conference in 2014.
I’ve always wanted to attend a blog conference ever since I found out that such an event existed to make connections with other bloggers, companies, and products as well as learn how to be the best from the best in the field. Yet there is one major factor that always seems to get in the way–location. I live smack-dab in the middle of Oklahoma…in the middle of America…in the middle of no-man’s land as some people say. Blogging conferences seem to be more of a East or West coast phenomenon meaning that with the additional cost of air fare and hotel, any conference I attend will cost me nearly half of what Cornerstone Confessions made in its entire first two years combined. Conferences like The 2:1 Conference or Allume or even Blogging Concentrated look fabulous and boast wonderful reviews from friends, but seeing that these events are most likely not in my immediate future, I’ve decided the next best option for me is to create my own blogging conference via Pinterest articles and some research on the internet.
My Virtual Blog Conference in Just 12 Posts
That is why I’ve chosen to start The 144 Plan with Blogging Brilliance first. Why blogging first…of all the amazing topics lined up for 2014? Because its my very means of communication with you, and I want to make sure I am doing the best I can to make this site and info therein the most useful for you, my readers. In addition, several of you who come here each week link up to Titus 2 Tuesdays which means that you are also bloggers interested in being the best you can be in an effort to give God the glory. Yes, the wrapping paper on the package isn’t the most important part of the gift, but it definitely has a major impact on first impressions of what is inside. Thus I hope that through this first series we can help make it a better one…for you and for Him.
Confession: My site is slow…as is very…slow.
Or rather, maybe I should say it was slow. A few months ago when I decided it was time to start researching ways to speed up my site load time, my Alexa Chrome Extension stated that my site load time was 3.526 seconds and that 84% of all other sites are faster that Cornerstone Confessions. That sounded awful–until I did some research. Those numbers include any and every site known to man even the ones never developed so the percentages are actually quite skewed. From a preliminary survey of several blogging friends I found that the lowest percentage of all participants was 75%. Even Problogger whose site is one of my major go-to blogging resources has a load time of 2.134 seconds with 63% of all other sites having faster load times. So while my 84% was not awful, there was definite room for improvement. Thus began my goal–how to decrease my site load time to less than 3 seconds. In the process here are a few things I found out.
7 Ways to Speed Up Your Site Load Time
- Use PNG images over GIF and JPG images when possible. JPGs may produce better printed photographs but PNG images generally provide the best overall online image quality and load faster which is what this article is really all about.
- Optimize your images with a program such as Tiny PNG or a JPEGmini. While I used to use a WordPress plugin for this, my research found that by using one of the aforementioned optimization programs my images loaded significantly faster and were optimized nearly 75% more than with a plugin. Yes, it’s an additional step to preparing your images for your blog but a step I am now convinced is fully worth it. I even went back and sent my header, buttons, and background images through TinyPNG too. The results from this one step alone was astounding.
- Remove all unnecessary images in your sidebar and place them on a separate page. You know the sites–the ones with ads all up and down the sidebar so cluttered that it is distracting more than helpful. All of that weighs down on site load time. By eliminating access images, your site load time will automatically increase. The creation of my Companies and Products I Love is an example of this. By placing all my affiliates on one page and only highlighting a few favorites each month via a sidebar ad or Goody Bag spotlight, each affiliate receives a more-in-the-limelight opportunity while readers can still view other affiliates’ information if they are really interested in knowing my favorite companies or products.
- If you have a WordPress blog, install the W3 Total Cache Plugin to minimize whitespace before your code. For those of you that don’t really understand all the behind the scenes stuff on your blog like me, this plugin basically streamlines your code to make your site load faster. Once installed be sure to enable page cache, object cache, and browser cache on the settings page. For more information on how to install and set up this plugin for maximum use, you may want to check out this tutorial from WP Beginner. From there you can also learn about the possibility of installing a CDN (Content Delivery Network) which can also have a major impact on your site load time. I personally have not added a CDN yet but it is definitely on my radar to consider in the future as they come highly recommended by nearly ever top source on the subject.
- Refrain from resizing an image using html (i.e. width=”250″). I am so bad about this. I load an image to my blog not worrying about the size until I learn that it is too big so I use html to resize it instead of upload the correct image size. The moral of the story: when a browser does not have to resize an image it loads the image faster.
- Implement post summaries on your home page. Yes, this is an often controversial topic, so I will leave it to your own discretion. That said, keep in mind that the more images and content you have on a page the longer it takes to load. So…if you have 5 or more complete posts on your home page as opposed to one and a few summaries or summaries only, then your home page will automatically take about five times as long to load as it would if only post summaries were incorporated.
- If you have a WordPress blog, remove any unnecessary plugins possible. A good rule of thumb–use all the plugins you NEED but no more. Plugins weigh down on the speed of your site. The less you use the faster your website runs. Personally my goal is to limit my active plugins to about 20. I’m not quite there yet, but close. Basically, if you can create the same effect you are desiring by adding code or by installing a child theme with those characteristics incorporated, do it. Your site load time will increase and your readers will thank you.
And what did all of these suggestions do for my site load time? Currently my site load time is down to 2.601 seconds which is definitely less than my 3 second goal. Sure, I still have a ways to go before I’m as fast as Problogger, but then, Cornerstone Confessions is much more image oriented than Problogger too making it a different animal of sorts. So, while I will constantly be looking for ways to continue to tweak my site load time, I am more than happy with the my nearly 1 second load time decrease. And hopefully now, you can reach the info you are searching for on Cornerstone Confessions even faster because of it!
What are your tips for increasing your site load time?
I make no claims to be an expert on this subject, knowing full well the tips I’ve shared above just scratch the surface of all that’s involved. Thus, please share away and together we can learn from each other so as to grow in the areas in which God is using us for His glory.
Take it to the next level with these resources:
- Google Pagespeed Insights
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
- iBlog, the Book
- My Blogging Brilliance Pinterest board.
This post is the 1st of 12 in the 144 Plan to Blogging Brilliance. To learn more about the 144 Plan or catch up on a missed post, check out the complete 144 Plan Training Log.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9