In the early days of the Web speed was more necessary than presentation due to bandwidth constraints. Then came DSL/ADSL at which time graphics, Flash content and other bandwidth hungry ‘things’ blossomed. We now seem to be again going towards speed as Webpage best practice. Of course this cycle will likely turn the corner again when Fibre to the Node becomes widespread.
With speed in mind I decided to optimise my Website. Now as, many of my readers will know, I am a bit of a fan of the
Theory of Constraints (TOC) so here is what I did in relation to the TOC ‘five focusing steps’ (yes, Management Theory is just as relevant to I.T. as any other aspect of business):
1. Identify the Constraint
Firefox with the Firebug and YSlow plugins equals great free Webpage load speed measuring (and recommendation) tools. I started with an overall C grade from YSlow with various recommendations. I decided to concentrate on reducing the number of HTTP requests which in turn would lead to fewer DNS lookups. Not only did my site rate poorly by YSlow in relation to HTTP requests (too many) but is was obvious from accessing the site that it was slow due to fetching data from external Sites.
2. Decide how to exploit the constraint
- Image via Wikipedia
My Site is run with the mighty WordPress. As far as possible I like to keep WordPress as generic as possible and refrain from too many customizations (I handle customizations through Themes and Plugins). I have amended the CSS of the Theme I use (Hybrid Theme) and performed a few other small tweaks however that’s about it as far as my WordPress customization goes. Fortunately it was very obvious as to how to reduce HTTP requests; turn off WP-Oomph and use fewer images (by eliminating some and combining others).
3. Subordinate all other processes to above decision
This step meant making various changes so that once I performed step 4 below my whole Site wouldn’t collapse. In essence this was about planning and preparing the system for the post-elevation (i.e. step 4) state. For example, I just love that WP-oomph provides an easy means for Website visitors to view and store my h-card information. WP-Oomph was taking forever to load on my Site so was reducing my Website performance in relation to load speed. An alternative to WP-Oomph is to display my v-card information in the Footer of the Site. It’s not as pretty as using WP-Oomph however is way quicker to load.
4. Elevate the constraint
This step was quick and simple. Because in Step 3 I had made the necessary preparation all I needed do in this step was disable the WP-Oomph WordPress Plugin as well as remove the obsolete images.
And now … back to Step 1 and through the process again.
Through following the Theory of Constraints ‘five focusing steps’ I have improved my YSlow rating from a C to an A in less than a day. Thanks Google and thanks Theory of Constraints!
Here are some excellent posts in relation to speeding up your Website: