June 27, 2011

Improve Your Blog's Load Time

The time it takes for your blog to load in a browser is key part of retaining readership. With the vast amount of content available online, you will want to catch the attention of potential readers as soon as they browse to your blog. The following is a list of things to take into consideration when designing your blog and adding content.

Optimize Your Layout

When you view your blog, your content loads in a specific order. The columns load from left to right. Advanced designs may load in a slightly different order.

With the Three Columns layout, the entire left column will need to fully load before the center column starts loading. If you have a large number of items in your left column, it can delay the posts on your blog from displaying.

The location of items in your sidebar can determine how quickly the main content of the blog loads. Selecting the Two Column Right or Three Column Right layouts will allow your posts to load first. Arrange items that require contact with another site, like advertisements and widgets, in your right sidebar, instead of the left. The top of the left sidebar is a good place to put items you want your readers to see first.

Sidebar Content

Widgets and Advertisements
Both widgets and ads placed in the sidebar require contact with another site in order to display. The need to contact another site can often require some additional time when loading content. Placing advertisements and widgets in the right sidebar instead of the left may help your blog content to load more quickly.
TypeLists
Images displayed in the sidebar can be uploaded to your account at Account > File Manager. Images located within your Typepad account will load more quickly than images hotlinked from other sites. Hotlinking images is not recommended for this reason. Additional information on including images in the sidebar is available in the here.

Front Page Content

The time it takes to load the front page, or main page, of your blog depends on the amount of content you have selected to display. Reducing the amount of content displayed on the front page will reduce the load time of your blog.

Split Entry
The split extended entry feature allows you to display an intro on your main page, with the remainder of the post on the post's Permalink page. A link to "Continue reading..." will be displayed at the end of the post.
Images require additional time to load. By using the split extended entry feature, you can include multiple images, including large images, without affecting the load time of the main page.
Posts Displayed on Front Page
Reducing the number of posts contained on the front page will improve the load time of the page. All of your blog's posts are maintained in the blog Archives. You can include a link to the Archives index in your sidebar content at Design > Content.
At Settings > Posts, you can reduce the number of posts displayed in the blog index. More information is available in Posts Settings article.

Multimedia

Multimedia, including images, audio, and video, takes longer to load than just text. However, there are some tips for including multimedia content on your blog with limited delays.

Images
Use smaller images, called thumbnails, that link to full-size images in pop-up windows. See the Inserting Images article for more information.
Splitting your posts using the split extended entry feature allows you to include multiple large images in a single post without affecting the time it takes for the front page to load.
Using Photo Albums, you can group multiple images in an album and link to the album in your sidebar at Design > Content.
Audio
When you embed video and audio players in your posts, pages, or sidebar, the entire file will load to the site when you view the page. For smaller audio files, like a 3 minute song, an embedded player may only delay page load slightly. Larger files, including long podcasts or videos, can cause longer delays, and visitors to your site on a slow connection will be affected.
Use embedded players sparingly in posts. Instead, you can use the Insert File button to add a download link for the file. Visitors to your page can then chose whether or not to download the file.
Video
For larger videos, you can use a video hosting service, like YouTube or Vimeo, to upload the file and display a player in your posts. This allows readers to play the videos without leaving your blog but minimizes the effect of the video upload on the entire site. Video players from video hosting sites can be easily added to your blog using the Insert Video option.

How long should it take for my blog to display?

The main content of your blog should load very quickly. A few sidebar items, including widgets and ads, may take a few seconds. By placing these items to the right of the main content column, a reader will be able to view the bulk of your blog without delay.

To test the load time of your blog, you can use Pingdom. Enter your blog's URL and click "Test Now" to get a detailed report of the content on your blog which takes the most time to load.


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