The Less Sexy Side of Your Business

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Guest post written by my husband on 11.26.13 

Pingdom.com is the go-to resource for testing the performance of your website.  How it works is they ping your site and record the time it takes to download each of the files used to render your page.  The output will give you intelligence about what files might be unnecessarily big, and how much muscle your site has for handling requests. They have globally distributed servers so they’re able to give you an accurate accounting of what others will experience when accessing your site.

 

Get Started-It’s Free

Ok, so first go here to get started.  At the top of the page you’ll see where to type your website’s domain.  Once you’ve added it, click the TEST NOW button to get that pony moving.  After you’ve started the query you’ll begin to see all off your page files listed below and the speed at which they loaded.  That information is insight into which files might be slowing down your page.

 

What should you be looking for?

One of the more common problems you’ll see impacting performance on blog sites are pictures that are larger than they need to be.  Images that are unnecessarily large require more resources to get from your server to the user’s machine. As a general rule,  images that are larger than 50kb-70kb are probably bigger than they need to be .  In most cases, images should be well under that size. Anything over can probably be compressed further without losing fidelity.  Doing so will speed up your site.

Here’s a visual of what you’re looking at:

pingdom test results

Click to see larger view

  

Optimizer UI example

Click to see larger view

 

How do I compress my images?

That depends.  It depends on what tools you might already be using for creating your images (assuming you’re not just “borrowing” them from other sites).  If using Photoshop, you should export your images using the “Save for Web” option in the FILE menu and  set the quality between 80-85 .

If you have not dropped $800 on Photoshop yet, consider a free online tool for optimizing your photos. One to try is JPEG Optimizer.  Here is a quick explanation of how to use it.

 

optimizer UI

Click to see larger view

 

What else can I do?

If you’re running a WordPress site, then you should consider installing some performance plug-ins.  One of the more popular ones is W3 Total Cache.  There are several others, so make sure to look around to see which is best for you.  Do note that some of them may require more technical competency than others to configure properly.

 

flexing mmuscles

Your server might need to grow more muscle

If you’re still not satisfied with your site’s pingdom.com test results after optimizing the images/files on your page, it’s likely that the your server is the next thing requiring some attention.  Unfortunately, that is where your co$ts go up.  The bottom line is that you likely need a beefier server.

It’s important to know when to do this.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a formula for you.  There are too many possible variables too consider.  For me, I had to learn the hard way.  I had forged some new relationships with other bloggers.  Bloggers with ridiculously large traffic.  It didn’t take long before one of them linked an article on my site and gave my server a serious traffic beat down.  It shut down the server; resulting in lost revenue, Youtube subscriptions, FB likes, newsletter subscriptions and so much more .

 So, I dropped my robe and took the cold plunge into the costly pool of professional website hosting.  I upgraded from a shared hosting environment to a VPS (virtual private server).  I started with a basic package and it was working pretty well-at first anyway.  However, as I continued to grow my business the server began to struggle again.  As my traffic and revenue marched in a northern direction, so did the strain on my server. As a result, I upgraded the VPS package again to accommodate the load.

It’s important to keep in mind that as your site grows, so will the taxation on your server’s resources.  When it does, you need to consider getting  more resources (if it makes financial sense to do so).  The point being, monitor your site’s performance and make adjustments when and where necessary.  Whether it’s compressing images or upgrading your server package, pay attention to the side of your business that isn’t as sexy as writing great content.  If you don’t, fewer people will get to experience the brilliance of your craft and you’re likely to miss a profit opportunity.  Good luck!

What hosting provider am I using now?

I’ve recently moved to an adorable hosting service called A Small  Orange.  They have a stellar reputation, great technical service, and familiar tools.  I’ve been regularly testing my pages using Pingdom’s tools and I’m so impressed with the speed.  If you’re ready for a good host, consider using A Small Orange.

 

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