Performance Audit

Speed is most certainly a good thing during these trying times of #perfmatter and #rwd. In efforts to make my blog a bit more performant, I’ve been taking the time to conduct speed tests using services like PageSpeed Insights. This is just a glimpse inside my efforts up until the time of this post to make those adjustments.

Server Response Time

I came across an item listed in the results that stated I should improve my server response time (0.97 seconds) so I decided to contact Media Temple on this issue and here’s the response from my inquiry via chat support…

ME
“I’m running some tests using PageSpeed Insights. Apparently one of the suggestions is to improve my server response time. I’m curious what can be done to fix this issue?”
MT
“Okay, so I clocked both of these sites as loading at around 2.4 seconds, which is well within the industry standard of 5 seconds. Although, you are correct that there is a delay in server response time, the amount that you are seeing is normal for the (gs) Grid-Service and shared hosting environments in general. In all honesty, your sites appear to be quite well optimized and load rather quickly. There may not be much that you can do to improve these load speeds.”
ME
“According to google “You should reduce your server response time under 200ms so I’m wondering if you’re saying this cannot be adjusted or enhanced to be within this threshold?”
MT
“Unfortunately, no, not on a shared hosting environment such as the (gs) Grid-Service. This article that you have linked to is for traditional server management where you yourself own and maintain your own server.”
ME
“Would this be possible if I were on a non-shared server with MT?”
MT
“Well, yes. On our DV servers, which are entirely customer managed, you can do things like tune apache to meet the specific requirements for serving your sites as quickly as possible.”

Leverage Browser Caching

PageSpeed was extremely irritated by my inability to leverage browser caching (five 3rd party URIs are not leveraging browser caching). The unfortunate part is the scripts listed in the details were 3rd party services like Typekit, Google Analytics & FusionAds. During my search to find a solution I came across this StackOverflow answer by Ilya Grigorik about using 3rd party assets. This is his full response in that thread…

“You cannot set custom expiration for resources served by Blogger – that part is already done for you by Google servers. Having said that, if you serve content from any third party domains (which you are), then you should look into enabling compression and caching on those hosts. Of course, sometimes this will be out of your control – ex, third party widgets which you do not control directly.”
~Ilya Grigorik

I decided to reach out to Typekit, Fusion Ads and GoogleDev on Twitter to ask if these assets are truly out of my control and I got a response from Bram Stein of Typekit…

Bram
“We could set a longer timeout, but then any changes to your kit wouldn’t show up until the cache time expired. It’s a trade-off between usability and performance.”
Me
“Do you think Typekit will ever allow self hosted fonts much like Fontdeck did for Smashing Magazine?”
Bram
“We have some enterprise options that come close to self-hosting (your own CDN backed by ours).”

Here’s that portion Bram mentions listed as #5 for “10 reasons Typekit is great for you” found under the pricing plan packages on Typekit’s “how to buy” section of their site…

5. Delivering Speed
Our global infrastructure delivers response time in milliseconds — often faster than most websites can serve their own CSS. And Typekit can be integrated with your own CDN via our Enterprise Plans; contact us for more information.

Going Forward

Unfortunately, there are always gonna be things in relation to performance that are well out of your control. I could upgrade my hosting plan, but that would also drive up the hosting cost and I’m not about to do that and the same goes for my font service. Hopefully the other well executed performance enhancements done on my part help to alleviate the losses in other areas outside of my control. Of course I could Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content, but our current methods still feel pretty hack-y.

Should I switch to a new hosting provider? Do I need to find another way to get my fonts self hosted? Should I just accept things for what they are? Let me know in the comments below or give me a holler on Twitter.

Dennis Gaebel

Design Technologist passionate for Open Source, SVG, Typography, Web Animation, Interaction Development & Pattern Based Design. http://droidpinkman.io.
  1. I just switched to WP Engine from a dedicated Media Temple server and have found things to be rocking out of the box 🙂

    Still some work to do on my end but have been super impressed so far.

    1. I’ve been impressed with WP Engine too. I wish I could justify the cost for them right now ($99.00/mo).
      In regards to Media Temple, their Dedicated server ($2500.00/mo) is definitely too steep for me as an option (a blog about development vs. an e-commerce site selling goods).

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