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How fast is my blog downloading for my readers?

  1. Hello more knowledgeable people!

    Before I ask my question, don't let the fact that I may use SOME technical jargon correctly fool you into thinking that I understand any of this technical stuff -- I don't. What little I know is only that which I had to teach myself in order to make my blog look the way I want it to. The rest is all buzzes and clicks -- seriously, So please feel free to talk down to me like you're explaining the internal combustion engine to a toddler.

    Now for the set up:

    This weekend I made what I thought was a nifty little change to my sidebar, where I had an image of Bob Hope that was itself a link to an external Bob Hope audio file. What changed is that I decided I would rather cut out the middle-man, and put the file in a short-code audio player directly under the image, so readers could listen to the file on my site instead of having to listen to it somewhere else.

    And so I did. And everything worked worked (for me) almost exactly as I'd like (to tell you the truth, I'd rather the file just play automatically without a player, when people click the image, but that's apparently not possible), so I was more or less satisfied.

    Then my traffic tanked.

    Now, it normally drops off on the weekends and rebounds on Monday, so I assumed that warmer spring weather just made more people than usual get away from their computers for the weekend. But then traffic didn't come back on Monday.

    So

    1) did my audio file make my blog download lots slower? (its a very short file)
    2) If that's what happened, is there anything short of removing it I can do to correct the situation?

    Also:

    3) is there a program or website anyone knows of that will simulate dial-up download speeds? and
    4) is there somewhere I can learn more about how to have images/audio/video on my blog without making it load so slow that people give up?

    basically I want to have lots of images and videos and audio files on my blog, but I dont want to make my blog load so slowly that readers abandon me.

    Can anyone help?

    (and yes I tried searching the forums before posting this, but couldn't find anything that answered these questions)

    Thanks very much for your help!

    The blog I need help with is americanelephant.wordpress.com.

  2. Please check out this link for a great speed test website http://tinyurl.com/29wbjp6

    P.s. Google is your best friend!

  3. That's a gorgeous blog you've got there. The good news: the dip in traffic almost certainly has nothing to do with your sidebar changes. All audio files will make opening the blog slower, but the sidebar opens second-last (header opens last) and so they'd be able to read the blog anyway, no problems.

    Short of hosting your media somewhere off-site or decreasing the quality of the upload, there's no way to make them load faster. The thing is, with posts, you can just reduce the number of posts on the front page and that'll make the blog load faster. With a sidebar, you've got to get rid of it entirely.

    It's a cute little thing, but if you have any suspicion whatsoever that it's causing you problems, get it out. Sidebar bling's appeal is far greater to the blog owner than to most readers, sad to say.

    Multimedia in your sidebar will slow your blog down FAR more than multimedia in posts, for the above reason.

  4. Thank you, but that doesn't tell me how fast its downloading for DIAL UP users!

    P.S. Responding to headlines before reading posts often makes you look foolish.

  5. You might want to move multimedia files you always want to feature off the sidebar and onto a static Page instead. Just a thought.

  6. Sorry, that last comment was for slikbonez, who seems more eager to be a smarta** than he is to be helpful. (ive already been to those speed tests, they dont show dial up download times)

    Raincoaster,

    Thanks very much for the compliment, and the help!

    But, like I said, I'm a technical nincompoop, so forgive me, but I still have questions.

    So, you are saying that my blog should be loading completely normally for my readers even WITH the audio file? that everything else would appear at the rate it normally does, while the audio file still continues to load?

    If thats the case, then there's really no reason to change it is there?

    The only reason I suspected it might be the cause of my problems is because my traffic dropped more than usual over the weekend, and didnt come back today like it normally did.

    Maybe there's another explanation for my drop in traffic.

    It was just my first guess since it was the only change I made to the blog recently.

    Also, do you know any sites that simulate dial up download speeds?

    I am worried that i have too much bling for dial up users -- only because I dont know how much bling a blog can have before it has a negative impact on traffic,

    Thanks again for your help -- your many other forum answers have helped me get my blog to where it is, so I am very grateful.

  7. P.S. Responding to headlines before reading posts often makes you look foolish.

    I did read the whole post and not just the headline.
    Quoted from your post

    3) is there a program or website anyone knows of that will simulate dial-up download speeds? and

    Don't you think it's foolish to ask about a download speed test website for dial up users when you could of searched for it yourself.?

  8. As for dial up user their browser will not be able to download (Pre-Fetch) the content very easily because it most likely will lock up their browser.

  9. slikbonez knows what he's doing, he is just brusque.

    I don't know any sites that simulate dialup download speeds, but I used to be on dialup until a couple of years ago and yes, your blog would be a problem. The audio would NEVER come up, and the images would take several minutes to load. The hangup point is probably the Youtube videos, if anything.

    You have too many posts on the front page. As a many-post person, I didn't want to cut down on the posts on my front page, but eventually was talked into doing it, and it has increased my readership. I won't go into the technical reasons it loads faster that way, but it's a VERY good idea.

    Your sidebar is enormous and has a ton of stuff in it. Regular text links and regular widgets are fine, but when you have something like that radio gif and an audio file in the sidebar, it's going to be a problem for your readers on Dialup, and with that much stuff in your sidebar, it's doubtful it's all getting read anyway.

    You will have to find a point where you're comfortable with the tradeoff between reducing the amount of stuff on your front page to load quickly and having your front page convey the information you want. Nobody can tell where that point is except you. How many dialup readers do you have?

  10. Yes, his "here let me google that for you" answer was rather snarky and didnt even answer the question he purported to be answering to begin with.

    Thank you very much for being so helpful, Like I said, much of what Ive been able to do with my blog has come from reading your answers to others.

    I will reduce the number of posts on the front page.

    But just so I'm clear, having images and multimedia in the sidebar doesn't slow down how fast my readers can view the posts and other things? Everything else (header, posts, text, etc) will load as quickly as any other blog, looking the way my theme (benevolent) is supposed to look, but the only problem will be that the images and audio will still be loading while they read?

    If that's the case, I can live with that. I was just afraid they couldn't see ANYTHING until everything had loaded

    Again, thanks for all your help and patience! its much appreciated.

  11. Oh, and I dont know how many dial up vs high speed readers I have. I only know total views. Is there a way to tell?

  12. BTW I love your NW Coast Indian art avatar! I'm a Pacific NWesterner myself.

  13. pornstarbabylon
    Member

    Oh my. Just by looking at your front page, the problem is too many Youtube videos. They suck the bandwidth out of any site. You also have way too many posts on the main page with all those videos. Large images and videos will slow down any site. I say reduce the number of posts to five on the main page and put all the videos "after the jump" or just link to the videos.

  14. Thanks, PSB, I will cut the number of posts on the front page. and I've been thinking about going the "after the jump" route.

    What I am still confused about is if having the images/video/audio that I do slows down the time it takes the WHOLE page to load.... in other words does it ALL have to load before any of it becomes visible...

    OR, will the header/posts/text all appear as quickly as any other blog would <i>how the theme CSS tells it to look</i> so that dial-up readers will SEE the blog and can read it while the images/videos continue to load?

    See the difference I am trying to get at? The former would definitely hurt my traffic, but I dont think the latter would hurt traffic necessarily at all.

    So I'm just trying to figure out how it works in reality.

  15. This is where my confusion lies. Raincoaster said this:

    the dip in traffic almost certainly has nothing to do with your sidebar changes. All audio files will make opening the blog slower, but the sidebar opens second-last (header opens last) and so they'd be able to read the blog anyway, no problems.

    Which sounds great! I dont mind if the audio doesnt load for dial-up users, as long as they can read the rest of the blog.

    But then he said this:

    The thing is, with posts, you can just reduce the number of posts on the front page and that'll make the blog load faster. With a sidebar, you've got to get rid of it entirely.

    Which seems to contradict what he said in the first quote.

    So I am just trying to get this clear: I want to know if my audio (and other media) makes the WHOLE blog load slower, so that NOTHING will appear until everything has loaded,

    or will the blog appear (the way its supposed to look according to the css) with the posts text and titles appearing as quickly as they would on any other blog, and JUST the media would load slowly while readers could read the blog anyway.

    If the videos, audio and pics just keep loading while they can see everything else, I dont mind that.

    Again, I appreciate everyone's help!

  16. SHE! raincoaster is a she!

    What I meant by that part about the sidebar is that you can't just put your blingy stuff "over the jump" or on the next page or something, because sidebars load all the way to the bottom, so everything in the sidebar is always displayed.

    The blog will appear text first, main column first, then images in the main column, then youtubes, THEN sidebar, then header. And if at any point something clogs it, like youtubes, then it could stop entirely at that point, leaving big holes where other images and YouTubes go.

    Keeping the audio in your sidebar will not interfere with the loading of hte main blog page. It MAY interfere with navigation around your blog and annoy your readers, because if pages load a very long time they often jump around as people are reading them.

    You might be able to find a stat counter like Sitemeter or Statcounter that identifies what kind of connection people have, but I'm not aware of one that works on WP.com and gives that detail; TT might have one listed on her blog http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com

    Thanks for the compliments about the avatar; it's a special image I commissioned years ago, best $750 I ever spent.

  17. panaghiotisadam
    Member

    Text loads very fast, objects load slower - especially if linked to from other sites. So if you have many images, videos etc. on your front page, a visitor with a slow connection will see the text rigt away, with probably some blank spaces before the objects load. Best thing to do is what rain and psb already suggested: reduce the number of posts per page.

  18. 3) is there a program or website anyone knows of that will simulate dial-up download speeds?

    You can use Firefox Throttle extension for Firefox. But before use you must clear your cahce since most parts of your website is stored in it.

  19. SHE! oops, I'm very sorry!

    Thanks Raincoaster for all your help, That makes it much clearer. Now I just have to decide what I am willing to live with. Wish I could find someone with dial-up so I could see exactly how it will affect my readers for myself,

    Sounds like I will have to give up on the audio file after all. if it might screw up navigation. And while I'm at it, sounds like i need to go back and make sure all my images are as small in file size as possible.

    And thanks to panaghiotisadam and miladin too. I will reduce the number of posts on the main page, and I will check out the Throtte extension for Firefox.

    I think that everyone should just get high speed so I can make my blog as blingy as I want without having to worry about it! :D

    Thanks again everyone.

  20. panaghiotisadam
    Member

    Don't worry about the audio. If the file takes long to load, a visitor will get some buffering time after clicking the play button. The audio player itself doesn't tax the browser.

  21. Don't worry about the audio. If the file takes long to load, a visitor will get some buffering time after clicking the play button. The audio player itself doesn't tax the browser.

    It doesn't? You sure? So that means I dont need to remove it?

    That would be AWESOME. You sure?

  22. panaghiotisadam
    Member

    Positive. (Didn't need to, but I even checked your blog with a slow computer: audio player loads looong before the videos finish loading.) Delays are mainly due to heavy objects and objects linked to from other sites. As I already explained, in the case of your audio neither of those applies to the player: they apply to the mp3, and the mp3 is called when you click the play button, not when you visit the blog page. (Besides, the mp3 is very small: just 192KB.)

    You've got seventeen posts on each page, most of them with images or videos. Forget about the poor innocent audio and listen to what three experienced bloggers already suggested: reduce the number of posts per page to only a few, and/or use the more tag before the images/videos. That's good for another reason too: excessive scrolling isn't visitor-friendly.

  23. 3) is there a program or website anyone knows of that will simulate dial-up download speeds?

    I do know of a program that will do this but membership is required to use it .

    Google recommends Page Speed
    Page Speed is an open-source Firefox/Firebug Add-on. Webmasters and web developers can use Page Speed to evaluate the performance of their web pages and to get suggestions on how to improve them. http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

    Here are other tools minus links:
    Online page loading time checkers and other tools

    1. NetMechanic
    2. Page Speed
    3. Pingdom Tools
    4. Site-Perf.com
    5. Webmaster Tools
    6. Web Page Analyzer
    7. WebPagetest
    8. WeeTools
    9. YSlow

  24. Once you do, you'll find what I did: that your sidebar goes on for miles with nothing beside it. You will then have some decisions to make about reducing your sidebar contents or switching to a new theme with more sidebars.

  25. @americanelephant

    You have been given good advice about hoe to reduce page loading time:
    1. Reduce the number of posts on your front page.
    2. Use "the more tag".
    3. Reduce the size of images, the number of media embeds
    Images, flash and sometimes even sound files can draw visitors but do you really need all that you have now? If you don’t need sharp resolution, choose GIFs over JPEGs, as GIFs load more quickly. JPGs are generally best for photos, GIFs for anything else. Optimize and decrease the size of your images or use thumbnails that link to the full-size image. Reduce the number of widgets, embeds.
    4. You can use CSS to improve your web sites load time. With your styles in an external .css file, the browser can cache all the formatting and stylizing for your pages instead of having to read each and every single tag all over again. This reduces lengthy tags and replaces them with smaller class styles instead. Combine your background images into a single image and use the CSS background-image and background-position properties to display the desired image segment. If you add any custom CSS to your blog, make sure it validates.

    IMHO there are many bloggers out there who don’t have a clue about how many folks are on dial-up service. Most rural dwellers in North America do not have broadband access. Yet, I frequently find that North American bloggers, who live in big cities, assume everyone does have broadband access.

    When that lack of awareness is combined with a penchant for adding decorative but useless widgets, badges and other “tat” that does nothing for readers, but provides a backlink to a site from whence the “tat” came, I scratch my head and try to think of a tactful way to tell the blogger in question to “house clean” their blog.

  26. Thanks everyone, I have a much better understanding of how it works now.

    And like I said before, I will reduce the number of posts on the front page (its only the front page that has so many posts, not every page), optimize images, and put videos "after the jump" where ever i can.

    I am glad to know that the audio player only loads the Mp3 when you click play, not when the page loads...which means it doesnt take long to load...thats what I was trying to clarify.

    And I thank you all for your help and suggestions, I am conscious of the fact that many people are still on Dial-up, just trying to learn what happens when they visit my page so I can decide what changes I need to make so I can optimize the blog for them as much as possible (or as much as I can bear to part with)

    Thanks again for all your help! :D

  27. pornstarbabylon
    Member

    Placing images as thumbnails is good for dealing with bandwidth speed. I've seen people post very large images in each post with a month's archives on the main page!

    99% of the images I had on my sidebar, I placed them all in separate pages which are now tabbed at the top of my blog. I hated how all the images looked warped on Internet Explorer. The spacing was off and just looked weird. But everything looks off on Internet Explorer. If you have too much on your sidebar, maybe place them in pages.

  28. I think you've been given all the advise there is, so I won't repeat it. I just wanted to thank you for even caring. Lots of bloggers don't which is why I had to put a stop to a wonderful blogger friendship when I was still on dial-up - her blog had so many high-res images and her sidebar was full of animated gifs that not only it took ages to load (and no, it's no fun to read around blank spots where images are still loading) but also regularly crashed my old laptop.

  29. /nod to taletellerin, I agree. Too few people think about things like download speed and people on slower connections.

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