Down with King Content – long live user experience!! The new focus on user experience is coming ever more sharply into the everyday lives of webmasters – and you could be forgiven for thinking that the world of image compression, CDN’s, and theme optimisation is well beyond you.
However, it’s easier than you might think to give your site a bit of a “superspeed” makeover!
Super Easy CDN and Website Protection
We’ve all heard about Content Delivery Networks and cloud servers and similar and many of you may think that implementing one is beyond you. However fear not, the good people at Cloud Flare are riding to your rescue with their FREE CDN. This system has a five minute install that just about anyone can implement and will not only superspeed your site but also protect it from internet bastards and vagabonds (as I like to call them).
Using data from Project Honeypot it protects your site against spammers, hackers, and other ratbags. I have implemented Cloud Flare on one of my sites and it has halved the download speed. So far this month it has saved my users on one small site 20.7 hours waiting for my pages to load, which also saves me bandwidth.
You can find out more about all the features offered by Cloud Flare on their comprehensive Tour Page.
Get A Speed Monitoring Plugin For Your Browser…
The Firebug plugin lets you use a whole wealth of web development and debug tools as you surf the net using Firefox. On it’s own I find it very handy to nosey around other people’s source code. If you’re interested in how someone’s done something or want to check out an element of your own site without trawling through code, it’s great. You just right click on the bit you want to look at and select “inspect element”. It’s a great everyday timesaver for me.
You can then grab the Site Speed Addon from Google. Given that these are the guys we’re all trying to impress it seems sensible to refine site performance by their standards. There’s also a Chrome Addon. You can access their widget directly through your browser without any addons here.
This cool little tool gives your site performance marks out of 100 and a great big “to do” list. It also has a feature to show you versions of your images which are “losslessly compressed”. You can just save these and upload to your site for improved performance.
My own worst site had a rather dreadful score of 44 / 100 – which we very quickly got up to a 93 / 100 with the help of the Firebug site speed addon.
WordPress Site Speed Plugins and Wizardry
If you have a WordPress site you can do all of the above… and also make use of some handy WordPress resources!
First of all, read Yoast’s Guide to Speeding Up WordPress. He mentions you should install a caching plugin. I use W3 Total Cache which was recommended to me by my hosting company, Clook. I’ve found it to be excellent and regularly updated. It’s recently been updated for better compatibility with Cloud Flare and Yoast’s SEO Plugin. Whilst you’re giving your site a bit of a makeover do download and use this if you haven’t already – I think it’s the absolute dogs danglies and it does all the little SEO tasks that are too easy to forget about when setting up a site.
Don’t forget to grab an image compression plugin – Smushit is from the same guys who created W3 Supercache and is a great tool to squeeze that extra efficiency out of your web pages.
That’s pretty much everything I’ve personally used recently – if any of you guys have anything to add to this resource please post in the comments below – I’d love you to add your own hints and tips!