There are hidden pitfalls with WordPress, especially when self hosting, yet there are also some very good reasons for going that way. I encountered one of the pitfalls over the last week – slow page loading time.
To be honest, I hadn’t really given it a great deal of thought before now. Blogs hosted on WordPress.com are pretty snappy to load and the web server farm is optimised for this one purpose.
Yet there are a number of ways you can customise WordPress, even more when self hosting. The two that I looked at this week, are plugins and themes.
Plugins are a way of adding extra functionality to your WordPress site. Relatively small bits of code that add features. And simple to add new ones. A little too simple. Or perhaps I was being a bit simple. I installed ReadyGraph and then realised I didn’t like what it did. It hides the plugin from the admin interface so took a bit of work to disable. Very naughty.
Themes control the look and feel of the site. There are thousands out there and they are simple enough to load and activate. But not all themes are equal from a performance perspective. I was using one and became increasingly unhappy with the length of time to load the main page. I considered writing a small app to sit in the background, periodically loading the main page to get some real world statistics on it.
Then I found http://gtmetrix.com/. It loads your site and analyses the results. And the results pointed me at way too much image resizing done on the page load. And that pointed me back at the Theme. Which happened to be “Point”. Is that a trend? I could have gone digging around in the internals of the theme, editing the CSS and HTML, but decided I would try and find a better theme.
And the result – changing to a theme that didn’t do all that image resizing made my pages load four times faster. Admittedly, not as fast as it would on WordPress.com, but quick enough for my needs. Lesson learnt.