Howto Design WordPress Blog To Survive The Digg
In this article I want to discuss one simple and yet, extremely important aspect of WordPress blog – page load speed and how to improve it enough to be able to Survive The Digg. God forbid your blog post becomes popular and makes it to front page of digg when it is not ready for it! Not only do you face the wrath from pissed off visitors but also possible issues with your host.
WordPress in its current state faces one of the biggest issues – loading speed and according to Ryan this will be one of the most important part of 2.4 release – optimizing performance. But what do you do in mean time?
Design Your WordPress Blog To Survive The Digg
Since I’m working with WordPress 2.3.1 all information I share in this post is directly related to this release and might not be true to your own blog. And if you do decide to follow my instruction – make absolutely sure to backup your blog and database!
There are 3 major problems I have found that contributes to slow page load and while I will address 2 of them – third option is entirely up to you because it deals directly with your personal preferences. And allow me to explain what I mean…
External Scripts and Widgets
I will not touch this option even though it is one of the biggest bottlenecks to your blog. Widgets is what greatly adds to interactivity of our blogs and while they slow it down we have to make some conscious decision on how many of them we actually place. I have no intentions to tell you to remove any external scripts and widgets that pull info from external sources.
Our blogs are representation of our ideas and widgets help to reinforce that vision by providing relevant information. As long as you are aware of the fact that is contributes to slowness of your blog – that is all I’m trying to accomplish. Play around with them and decide what HAS TO stay and what you can do without. Test results and make sure you don’t cripple your blog functionality and interactivity in process!
Yesterday I have spend several hours looking into a rather unpleasant issue with my blog database. While doing a regular backup I have discovered that my DB managed to grow to 13MB and further investigation using phpMyAdmin showed to me that wp_options table was taking more then half of it! Now, that table stores multiple setting and should never grow to to the size I have seen (over 7MB).
More investigation and cleaning followed to get it back to a more manageable size of 392 KiB. This size I can leave with but I want to share the issue I have found and how I got rid of it (partially). I have discovered following RSS hash entries taking up most of the space in that table
Looking through the fields within it I have discovered that it is a cached RSS that comes to my WordPress Admin panel with Development news and news related to WordPress. Obviously I don’t want to loose this option and yet I don’t want it to be taking up my database and bloat it to the size I have mentioned.
As you can see – it’s a 2 distinct fields: one for the entry itself and second with *_ts is a time stamp associated with that entry. I ended up deleting all files similar to above without any problems on my blog but was unable to get rid of this reappearing completely. Not sure if this is done by design or not but this is a huge issue for me as I’ll have to go back and address it every once in while. Looks like I’m not the only one having this issue as I have actually found a plugin that allows you to do it from Admin interface.
- Clean Options – finds orphaned options and allows for their removal from the wp_options table. If you find yourself with similar problem I recommend looking at this plugin.
As it stands now I attempted to delete and replace all WordPress core files and problem still exists for me, so no permanent solution found at this time.
Page Caching Mechanism
WordPress makes quite a few queries to generate dynamic pages and it is the portion of what development team is working on according to article by Ryan I mentioned in beginning of this post. But since many of this queries don’t have to repeated – it only makes sense to cache the pages once they are generated and present static page when it applies to a visitor.
I have previously looked at WP-Cache plugin and it didn’t work too well for me. It produced some visual atrocities on my blog that I didn’t like and I never gave it a full go ahead. Well, I have just installed a new plugin that dramatically improved my page load speed and so far haven’t been able to see any issues with it.
- WP Super Cache – Very fast caching module for WordPress. Once plugin enabled, you must enable the cache. Based on WP-Cache by Ricardo Galli Granada. By Donncha O Caoimh.
So far this plugin performs like a champ for me but there are a few things you need to know before installing it, so make sure to read the readme file included.
Once you take care of the tasks outlined above your blog should be Digg Ready and the unexpected fame will not kill your blog performance!
And I actually challenge you to Digg this post if you like it and let’s just see how ready is my blog for the front page (if I ever make it there) …Tags: digg, load speed, optimization, WordPress