5 top notch things you can do to speed up your website (and how to do them for a Joomla 3.2 site).

Published in Joomla


cheetah running fast
I wanted to speed up my website and was looking for a few easy things to make my Joomla 3.2 website download faster. If you don't have Joomla website, feel free to check out these ways to speed up your website because they all apply, although some steps I've shown how do do them in a Joomla specific way. 
I call them easy because I'm a nincompoop. OK, well, actually, I hope I'm not. I have built a number of web pages, I know more about computers than anyone person ever should and some would even call me a "developer", but I'm not good with code, so none of these steps require specialist knowledge and should speed up your website nicely.
Heres what I did:
  • Optimise all the images files on the entire site (including templates)
  • Set cache expire times for image files
  • Install a plugin to combine separate CSS and JS files.
  • Use GZIP page compression
  • Turn on Caching
Lets look at each way to speed up your website one by one.
Before we start backup your site. I'm serious, I won't help you improve you sites speed until it's backed up. DO IT NOW.
And also check you website page download speed with Google Page Speed tester here. Make a note of how fast the page downloads so we can check it later.
Improving you webpage Speed (1): Optimise your images.
All my websites are already pretty fast because I know how to jpeg images well. The problem is I'm not always the person who optimises the images and none of my template images were optimised well. To speed up the websites, I wanted to optimise every single image on the site aggressively.
To do it you need a tool which will batch optimise your images within a given folder structure. Don't worry if you don't understand, I'll explain. You website has a number of folder and files. To speed up your website by optimising the images, you need to optimise every single image on the site. But who wants to got through the folder looking for files and resave every single image one by one with highly optimised settings. Not me that's who. You need an application which will allow you to optimise all the images buried deep in a number of folders simply by dragging the top folder to an open window. For other systems you will have to search for such an app. On the Apple Mac the perfect utility for OS X is imageoptim. It's a free program which does EXACTLY that: Batch optimises every image buried in a folder with one single drag and drop.
Go ahead and download it free from imageoptim.com
Before you use it, pop it in your Applications folder. Start it up and go to preferences and click on the tab "JPEGOptim" and set it to 80%. This will compress the file more but it should still look good enough for the web.
Once you change the compression to sped up the way .jpg files download, all you have to do is download your entire website from the server to your hard disk (or SSD!) and then drag an drop the top folder (main folder, root folder) into the app and it will optimise all the images on your entire site. Simples! Then you can upload them all back to your server and overwite the old files with an FTP solution like filezilla. You could also use an app like Forklift to only upload the image files. 
Once you image files are all optimised and uploaded, you website will already be a little bit faster. One problem is though, your image files will download fast but people will re-download them every time they visit the website.... unless you tell your browser to chache them….
Improving you webpage Speed (2): Cache your image files
Image files don't often change on a server so you should tell peoples browsers not to download them again.
To do this. I pasted a bit of code into my .htaccess file. WTF is that you ask? Don't worry it's just a file sitting on your server, telling you browser stuff about your site. If you run an ftp program or enter into you control panel for your hosting you should see either of these two files:
Open this in a text editor (I recommend text wrangler for Mac or Notepad++ for Windows) and paste in the following code.
#Image cache
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/ico A15552000
ExpiresByType image/gif A31556926
ExpiresByType image/png A31556926
ExpiresByType image/jpg A31556926
ExpiresByType image/jpeg A31556926
ExpiresByType text/javascript A31556926
ExpiresByType text/css A31556926
<FilesMatch "\.(ico|pdf|flv|jpg|jpeg|png|gif|js|css|swf)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=31556926, public"
Boom. Reloads of your site are now faster.
Improving you webpage Speed (3): Combine your CSS and JS files to reduce HTTP requests.
You're website has a number of files. Every time someone accesses your website your computer has to ask for every file. This take a little bit of time. The thing is, that if all CSS code or the Javascript code is jammed into one file it saves time when the website downloads but works because the browser is built to use the CSS or Javascript wherever it is.
I used a plugin for my Joomla site: JCH Optimise but you might want to check the JED to see what else is there. If you use Drupal or Wordpress you should have no problems finding a plugin to combine CSS files and separate Javascript files into one.
JCH Optimise can be found here
Improving you webpage Speed (4): Use GZIP page compression
This is a no brainer for Joomla users. Log into you Joomla backend and click on you global configuration. Under the Server tab you can turn on GZIP Compression. It speed up your website by compressing it before it is sent. You browser uncompresses it after downloading it. The experience is seamless to the user but it should result quite a big speed
Improving you webpage Speed (5): Turn on Caching
While you rate in the Joomla 3 global configuration, click on the system tab. Here you can set your caching. I recommend Conservative caching otherwise your site won't seam to update. Like. Ever.
aaaand you done. Before you go, remember to check your site again at (it should download way faster!)
pheeewww. That took a lot of writing. I hope this help you speed up your Joomla 3 website and if you have another style of website, I hope you optimised you images, Set cache expire times for image files and got some ideas on other way to speed up the site that you can search for in a way that's appropriate for your site. Good luck.