Blog upgrades and lessons learned about performance
When I began this blog at the beginning of the year, I did not know how far I planned to go. I knew that I wanted a good technical blog and something that I found visually appealing. Being new to blogging, I had very little experience with WordPress sites and found that I was overwhelmed with the options and plugins. I bought a heavy theme that had a bunch of features and graphical appeal. I set to creating the site and just accepted the defaults. Yeah, I felt things might be a little slow but really, I could live with them. Good content is worth the wait, right?
Yes, I was naive and a bit silly. Over the past weekend, I dedicated my efforts to improving performance and streamlining my site. I finally did some research and found an awesome blog on this exact subject How To Fix Slow WordPress Hosting On Bluehost (Using Pingdom, Caching, Cloudflare, Image Optimization, etc). If you are running a WordPress blog, definitely take a look at this site. I went from about 5-7sec to load a page to ~800ms – 1.5sec.
First, I added a caching plugin from WP Rocket and followed all the suggested settings in the article. Heck, I even refactored all the images using Imagify. I had massive improvements and noticed fewer issues but it still didn’t seem fast enough. Next, I introduced a Content Delivery Network (CDN) using CloudFlare. At this point, I could load most cached items in about 3sec. Still not enough, I thought. Today, the last improvement came from migrating the entire site from Bluehost.com to SiteGround.com. I instantly noticed a 50% improvement in page load times. More specifically, I see that the time it takes to start loading the page went from +800ms to ~150ms. The change is due to server improvements including now having the site served from SSD.
Good content is worth the wait… but why should I? There is a massive move in the industry to Flash/SSD configurations. Most applications could never truly see the benefit of +1mil IOPS but they can see the improvements from data ready at hand. My blog doesn’t see 1000’s of visitors in a day/hour but for those that do visit, they deserve the best experience possible. I believe this is why we see the industry rapidly moving away from spinning media and fully embracing SSD/Flash media. Applications are built faster, deployed for less time, and ultimately designed to give us what we want now. Laptops now come bundled with a solid state drives to give us sub-3sec boot times. Who doesn’t remember with disdain the 15-20min boot times of Windows 2000 server? With this push towards speed, is it any wonder that more companies look toward Configuration Management platforms and Automation?