RT Cunningham

My Website is Fast and Probably Faster Than the Last One You Visited

fast websiteYes, my website is fast, but you don’t have to take my word for it. You can use any one of the services that measure speed and see for yourself. Or, you can install the Alexa extension and simply view what it says when you’re on one of my pages.

According to Alexa, my website is very fast, with a download speed of under a second. It’s faster than 91 percent of all the websites it measures. It’s not correct, of course. That may be when it starts to display but it takes a little over two seconds to finish loading. That’s still very fast compared to many websites I visit regularly.

My Fast Website

I’m not going to brag. It took me far longer to get this website as fast as it is than it should have. I experimented a lot and I made decisions that most people won’t bother with.

I stopped using WordPress as my content management system in the middle of July 2019, but I optimized for speed well before that. My previous optimization was in May 2019, using WordPress. Even that wasn’t the first time.

Nginx is my web server and I use the FastCGI module to cache the requests. I no longer use a script to “pre-cache” pages. The first load is less than three seconds on most of the pages.

Decisions

I’m told, by reading various articles in various places, that more people use smartphones than desktop machines to read web pages these days. I can’t confirm that but I can optimize for smartphones. To me, it doesn’t make sense to support different layouts. That’s why I don’t have a sidebar, which would only be useful on a wide screen.

Some people spend a lot of time optimizing images for every device size, something called responsive images. I use images that fit on smartphones to begin with. They may link to larger images, images which most devices will optimize for their display anyway. My larger images are never more than 1024 pixels wide, so they’re crystal clear on most tablets in landscape orientation.

The only thing dynamic about my web pages, so far, are the previous and next links at the bottom of each article. And that’s only on the first page load. I can’t predict the future, but I don’t intend to add anything else dynamic.

Is a Fast Website Important?

It is, if you listen to the experts. I listen to them because they know far more than I do about these things. Slow websites encourage visitors to leave. It’s that simple. Some websites are still loading ads more than 15 seconds after I arrive. As patient as I am, there are faster sources for almost everything I intend to read.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I read a lot. I can’t read a lot if I’m spending all my time waiting for pages to load. I didn’t used to block ads but now I block them more often than not (I use the Brave Browser).

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RT Cunningham
August 19, 2019
Web Development