Monday, August 30, 2010

How Fast Does Your Website Or Blog Load?

I've been viewing articles and statistics lately concerning the speed at which my website(s) or blog(s) load and how important that may or may not be. I had seen a reference to a website that allows you to test the loading speed of your website or blog and thought I'd test all of mine.

The website I used was and I selected their STOPWATCH tab. When you click on the STOPWATCH tab it brings up a window that allows you to enter your website or blog URL.

I decided to test my websites and blogs on two different days (each time clearing my cache first) to see if there would be a difference. The results are displayed in seconds. Here's my results:

Linda Walsh Originals - 5.428 then 5.384 seconds
Gray Is Beautiful Products Gallery - 4.759 then 4.157 seconds
Linda's Doll Bookstore - 1.511 then 1.363 seconds
Everything E-Directory - 8.754 then 5.851 seconds
Everything E For Crafts E-Directory Blog - 12.65 then 8.989 seconds
Linda's Blog - 12.69 then 11.196 seconds
Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me Blog - 11.868 then 12.186 seconds
Gray Is Beautiful Blog - 10.945 then 11.430 seconds
The Dollie Storage Room Blog - 8.466 then 5.477 seconds
The Best FREE Craft Articles - 8.275 then 5.701 seconds
The Book Review Corner - 12.125 then 11.432 seconds
Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist - 6.211 then 4.339 seconds
About Linda Walsh Originals - 2.129 then 2.179
Tips For Crafters On The Web - 10.382 then 9.903 seconds

So, the question was whether or not my results were good.  Depending on which point of view you believe the answer is yes and no.  For some points of view if your website or blog doesn't load in 4 seconds or less you're in trouble.  Other points of view might have it at 7 seconds or under.  Their opinion is based on the fact that most of the Fortune 500 companies load on the average of 7 seconds or more. Others say 5 - 10 seconds is good while others say never more than 15 seconds.

So, you might think based on the above that most of my results were okay while others should be reviewed. Well, you'd be right and wrong. You see, there are so many factors that influence loading times that to know which is right or which is wrong is mind boggling.

For example all of the following influence website or blog loading times:

1. A users particular Internet connection speed (i.e. using dial-up, DSL, Fios, etc.)and load of their particular network.
2. The type of browser being used to access the Internet.
3. A users computer age, size, configuration, and settings.
4. The number of programs the user has open, number of tabs the user has open, the number of windows the user has open, whether or not their computer needs to be defragmented, etc.
5. Whether or not the website or blog being accessed is in the users browser cache (i.e. pages already in the browsers cache load faster).
6. Amount of traffic to the site being accessed and the server's access speed.
7. Anti-virus, anti-spam, etc. programs the user has protecting and running on their computer.
8. Design and size of the website or blog.
9. Amount of coding, widgets, images, etc. on the website or blog.

My results above were based on the fact that I have a medium range upload/download Fios connection, have a computer that is close to 7 years old, had multiple tabs open, had cleared my browsers cache, and had anti-virus and anti-spam software running.  

As a website designer and blogger of the 9 things above I only have control over #7 and #8. The first 7, which play a big part in page loading speed for my customers and my blog readers, are totally out of my control.

If you only have control over 2 of the 9 items on the above list do you need to pay attention to how fast your website or blog is loading?  Basically, yes.

Do you need to go crazy and remove everything you've added to make your website or blog enticing to your customers or readers? The answer is no.

Sometimes the reason why your customers and readers keep returning to your website or blog is they find it of use. So, first and foremost you need to look at the purpose of your website or blog and based on this determination decide whether you need to modify your website or blog at all. 

If you decide to modify your website or blog there are some things you can do to help your website or blog load faster. First and foremost you should know that four things can greatly reduce loading time: large images, music, video's, and widgets.

So, reduce the size of your images or graphics if you can and try to make sure your images and graphics and include their height and weight tags in the coding.  The latter, from what I understand, helps speed up the browser.   I do reduce the image and graphic size for all my websites and blogs, but have to admit that not all of the coding includes their height and width tags.

Reduce the size of the embedded video you may have or eliminate the embedded video in favor of a link to the video page.  I try to keep the video's in my blog posts to no wider than 350.  On the sidebars of my blogs I try to keep this at no more than 250 in width.

Resist the urge to include music on your website or blog.  I don't have music on any of my websites or blogs as I've found that when I've accessed websites or blogs the music tends to freeze my computer.

What else can you do? Well, take a look at the widgets you're using. For the social networking websites widgets that just display a communities badge load a lot faster than those that include member's pictures and streams. A widget including a stream is going to load much slower than any other type.

However, just because you have a widget or some other coding that loads slowly that doesn't mean it's always bad and should be removed.  For example, I know that the Linked Within coding I have on my "The Best Free Crafts Articles" blog slows down the load time.  However, I believe for that particular blog that the coding not only enhances my blog but makes it easier for my readers to find posts that may be of interest to them.

I, for one, just LOVE widgets and I'll be the first to admit I probably have too many of them on my blogs.  If you love widgets (like I do)  then try to include them toward the lower half of the sidebar or end of the website or blog so users scrolling down aren't  immediately affected.  I need to review all my blogs for this. If the widget is beneficial to my blog then it will stay. 

For blogs you can make sure that your posts aren't too long. I, for one, have to admit I'm really guilty here. I tend to have blog run-on.

Blog posts with multiple numbers of images and links are going to load a lot slower than just a few so limit the number of images and links to those you really need.  As mentioned above I reduce the size of my images before I post them.

Before I ever took a look at all this I knew that certain things could bog down my website and blog load time. But, for the most part, some of those were out of my control and some may have only been a temporary problem.

For example, your Twitter or Facebook module or link might be hung-up. Your Google ad sense module can sometimes be problematical and slow loading. Image and links for Amazon Associates, Etsy, etc. modules can be slow loading at times. If you have blogs then you know that Picassa tends to load slowly. And, subscription links or overseas websites links can sometimes hang you up. I've even seen embedded statistical coding like Google Analytics hang up a website or blogs loading. You just never know.

So, the upshot of all this is you should pay attention to your website or blog load time - but, don't go crazy. There are just too many factors to this statistic that are out of your control. If you have a good design and there is logic to what you are including then don't lose any sleep over this statistic.

Clipart Courtesy of Pierce Free Clipart Collection

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