Don’t Have a Slow Blog! Tips to Speed Things Up

Don’t use release date count downs

You know those fancy schmancy sidebar widgets that countdown to a book’s release? You don’t need them. They often use flash or JavaScript and can severely slow down the loading of a page. If you absolutely MUST have one, then limit it to one. I’ve seen some blogs that have three, five, or six, and they’re annoying as hell. Not only will they slow down a page but they’re also big, distracting, and most I bet most readers don’t really care about them.

You don’t need 5 scrolling marquees

Scrolling marquees look like this:

BookNook Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin

I’ll let it slide if you have one of these (usually for your blogroll). But if you have 2, 3, or 5, you’re killing me! Not only are these distracting (moving images.. argh.. they draw my attention, and not in a good way), but they will slow down the page. They use a lot of browser resources to make happen, so if you have a bunch, it can make the page slow and laggy.

But what I really hate is how distracting they are. If I’m trying to read your blog posts, I don’t want moving elements in the sidebar pulling my attention. Remember, sidebars are on the side. The focus should be on the content of your blog posts—not on what’s happening in the sidebar. So don’t pull your readers’ attention away from what’s important!

We don’t need to know all of your reading preferences in your sidebar

Some people put their entire bookish biographies in their sidebars. I’m talking favourite series, favourite authors, favourite books, what you’re reading now, what you last read, etc. All of those are images. All of those images take time to load.

So let’s say you have 20 favourite series, 15 favourite authors, 20 favourite books, you’re reading 1 book right now, you read 17 books this month. That’s 73 images being loaded on every single page. THAT’S A TON!! All of those images are going to take time to load and slow down your blog a lot!

Save that kind of stuff for your “About” page if you absolutely must include it. But you don’t need to put all that in the sidebar. Limit it to just what you’re reading now and maybe your recently read/reviewed books.

Remove all plugins you’re not using

(WordPress users)

Many plugins include their own CSS and/or JavaScript files. So every time your blog gets loaded, it loads those CSS/JS files, and that takes time. If you’re not even using those plugins, it’s a total waste of time because you’re loading resources you don’t even need! So do yourself a favour and clean things up. Deactivate (and delete) any plugins you’re not using.

Don’t put your image slider on every single page

You don’t need your image slider on every page. Those should usually be reserved for just the homepage. Image sliders can use a lot of resources because they often load multiple large, banner-sized images, and they use some complex JavaScript to get going. Plus, since they have moving parts, they can be distracting (see point about scrolling marquees!). So pick one single best place for your image slider (usually the homepage), and just put it there. Or, consider removing your image slider entirely.

Don’t put full posts on your homepage

This is a massive pet peeve of mine, especially with bloggers who use a ton of images. It gets particularly bad if you love GIFs. Imagine that you use an average of 3 GIFs in every post. If you load one post, you’re loading 3 GIFs. That’s not really a problem. But on your homepage, you have 10 full posts being displayed… that might be 30 GIFs!! Suddenly we have a loading problem. The browser has to load 30 images (many of which are animated). That’s going to make the page really long and possibly a bit slow.

In general I much prefer blogs that show excerpts on the homepage because it makes it that much easier to find content I’m interested in. But personal preference aside, putting full posts on the homepage will make your homepage take a lot longer to load. And the more images you include in your posts, the more it becomes a problem!

Would you say your blog loads fast or slow?

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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39 comments

  1. My blog is fairly okay for loading…but I am (guilty!) a GIF user. I’ve been seriously considering having a homepage where you can click “read more”. I must get onto that. πŸ˜‰ This is hugely helpful, thanks! And I really really hate blinky flashy widgets in sidebars. -_- Argh!

    Cait recently posted: Stacking the Shelves #13
    1. I have to second Jenna on this one. I quite dislike it if I have to load a page one more time when I want to read the full post (maybe it’s just me :p)
      But thanks for this one, Ashley! At least now I know to avoid image slider, marquee, and to minimize the use of gifs πŸ™‚

      Tirta @ I Prefer Reading recently posted: Do You Read Manga?
  2. Ever since I decided to minimize my blog design, it has been fast and it’s great because at first, I really didn’t know what to do to make it all better.

    I used to put series images and slider on my blog but now that I’ve grown tired of them, I don’t anymore. I just like putting what I’m currently reading because it kind of gives a peek into the blogger’s reading choices.

    I do have full posts on my blog because I feel that’s how blogs should look but I don’t mind it either way.

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile recently posted: Love-A-Thon 2014
  3. Oh yes, I like things “clean” so cluttered sidebars are not something I enjoy seeing. And no to count downs too (esp. hate the ones with sound effect *shudders*)
    Mm. My net is pretty fast so I don’t really notice if a blog is slower than ideal. I thought about changing to excerpts on the home page, but have yet to decide… I’m one of those who doesn’t really like to click too much but doesn’t mind scrolling. Haha, I like gifs but only use them in discussion posts (and try to use them moderately), so hopefully it’s not too overwhelming πŸ˜‰

  4. My biggest problem is plugins and the full articles on the main page. Some of my plugins I think I need, but I’m just not sure. I feel like I have too many, but then I look at them and I think I need them all. I was able to uninstall about five the other day that had been deactivated for 2+ months so I figured it was time. As for the full threads, I don’t know how to change them with my current layout, but I’m working on a new layout anyway for when I rebrand my blog here before the end of March, so it’s one of the first things I plan to get done with the new layout. I’ve wanted it for a while, but didn’t think about it when I bought my current theme. This is a great post. I have a few blogs I follow regularly that I wish would read it and take it’s advice.

    1. In WordPress, using excerpts instead of the full posts should be a matter of changing this:

      the_content();

      to this:

      the_excerpt();

      in the index.php file πŸ™‚ Although some themes put it in a different file.

  5. Great post! I’ve had full posts on my home page for several years but I didn’t use gifs until this last year, so I never realized how much that slowed my homepage. (For Firefox especially, load times were awful and because I’m an idiot, it never dawned on me that all those images were the main reason.) I put my home page on excerpts now and it takes less than 1 second to load. Hooray! Thank you Ashley!

    Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews recently posted: Book Pushing: “Help Me With My BFF” Edition!
  6. I’ve been meaning to put a read-more tag back into my posts, but kept forgetting to do it, so I finally have, you don’t have to hate my homepage anymore ;-). I’m still trying to decide exactly where in reviews and weekly wrap-ups that I want to put in the tag, since my pet peeve is actually going to blogs and not getting enough info in the blurbs to know if I’m interested in the post, haha. If the cover isn’t in the blurb, for example, it’s unlikely I’ll click on a review since I judge by covers so much *fail* πŸ˜‰

    Anya recently posted: Updates from the Lair 2/16/14
  7. I totally agree! I only have the full blog posts on my blog because by the time I realized I want to use excerpts, I have to manually insert them and I have a lot of scheduled posts that it would be way too much work to start manually adding jump breaks and such. But I definitely HATE when someone has a bunch of stuff on their sidebars, like countdown widgets because they’re animated and they really distract me from what’s going on. Fantastic post, though, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Feminist Sunday (4): Slut-Shaming
  8. My site loads very fast overall, which is a combo of an optimized set of plugins and scripts in WordPress and my choice of host – WPengine. Those guys offer a stellar service at a good price, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with their performance. Page load times are less than a second with consistency. Good article though, as performance gets overlooked for far too many blogs and websites.

    Tommy Landry @ Return On Now SEO recently posted: Content Strategy & Content Marketing: Not The Same
  9. I only recently switched to excerpts on my home page, just to try it. I used to have 5 full posts and then 5 more excerpts. I’m always looking at my sidebar and trying to decide if there is too much there. I have very little, but it drives me crazy if I have a short post and a long sidebar. Content should always be longer!

    Sarah recently posted: Review: A Taste Fur Murder
  10. I used to do almost all of these when I was a newbie blogger, and looking back it makes me cringe! Now, I removed almost all of my sidebar widgets, because they were pointless. And when I visit someone else’s blog that is bogged down with all these things, it makes me not want to come back! I hate full blog posts on the home page, because I feel like I have to scroll for ages to see the whole home page.

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver
    1. After a certain point it just comes down to your web host. If you’re on shared hosting, you could have 1,000 people on your same server. A server with 1,000 people on it could be maxing out on resources, which slows things down.

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