This one isn’t about high performance vehicles rather what can a self hosted site owner do (cheaply) to optimize his/her website(s). I don’t post all that regularly but I do spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking things. I could just try and keep everything on the lean side but, I am philosophically opposed to that approach as it is very limiting. I personally do not believe that the future of Internet related things is well represented by the terms like minimalist or lean. Pictures, videos, writing, games, and music all comprise the experience we nonchalantly call the web. So the issue for the home hoster becomes how can I offer a diverse web experience and provide a fluid and smooth user experience at the same time.
I guess the first thing would be to quantify what one does have running. There are a lot of free tools out there to help with this. My personal favorites are PageSpeed Insights along with the validation tools for CSS, HTML and certificate validity. There are other tools for checking the integrity of ones site, these are ones I refer to most often to decide what I am or am not going to fix. Using these I can get an overall picture of what I have and with that I can start to optimize the site. There are tradeoffs here and there for instance there may be a feature I want to keep that adds an excessive amount of bloat. I will stay with the feature but will constantly be on the lookout for a better way to deliver it. Other tradeoffs would be I am not going to squash images to the point they are unappealing to look at. In my opinion that would be counter productive and not offering images would make more sense which as I stated earlier I am opposed to doing. So at least in couple areas I find myself making some tradeoffs.
Luckily there are some workarounds the most significant thing I have found is using a CDN. I had read all kinds of things about Amazon Web Services but didn’t have a clue about how to integrate some of the AWS offerings with WordPress. With some persistence I was able to find a couple plugins that helped me to get static resources into the cloud. The first thing I incorporated was a plugin to manage uploading and linking media files to the Amazon Cloud. This was good since it allowed me to spread numerous graphic and musical elements throughout the site with having to take an overwhelming performance hit. Next I wanted to get other static resources into the cloud so the track I took was to establish a origin pull style web distribution with the site being the custom-origin. This was even better than the the first solution in as much as I didn’t have to do anything other than link to the files. Once again I found a plugin to aid me in this pursuit but not from the WordPress repository but from GitHub. I know the two solutions could be overlapping if not configured correctly and therefore not the most efficient way to go about things but they do get the job done.
The last things I have implemented are some server side and plugin style integrations. These were an optimization in box server module from Google Developers called of all things mod_pagespeed or PageSpeed Module. This comes in Apache or nginx flavors so implementing it is within reach of most web hosts. Another server side thing I installed was memcache(d) and a couple plugins to interact with it. Finally the last two things I implemented were one plugin to dynamically compress html and another to handle scripts and styles.
In conclusion this is quite a bit of under the hood modification when it is all said and done but that is one of the perks of self hosting i.e. it is ones to tweak or break. Also whenever these kinds of tweaks are applied things will break so finding that perfect set of tools/plugins to support site features becomes a necessity before one can say it’s actually working. Does all this work? I included a couple screen grabs above to address that question. I would like offer a how to type piece but I am not really qualified as everything I have implemented is the result of experimentation or Googling topics to find suggestions and solutions.