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Speed up your Joomla website

Joomla

large_high-speed-trainA while back I spoke about load testing a website. I spoke mostly about how one can load test but what if you find that the site does not perform well under pressure? If you are running Joomla for your content management system (cms) there are some things you can do to improve your load time for your website.

Recently one of our clients actually did a load test. They used "Load Storm" to do their testing. The testing did reveal that above 500 simultaneous users, the site did start to load slowly. Now part of the solution for that may be improving the hosting specs, however we did take a look at the website itself using a special tool that shows tips for improving speed. The tool is called "YSlow" by Yahoo, it is a Firefox extension. Basically you load the website and it grades the site on many aspects that could be speeding it up.

Here's a screenshot:

gradeview

Some of the things that we found that we could do to speed up the site were:

  • Turn on cacheing
  • Consolidate CSS
  • Consolidate JavaScript files
  • Minify and Gzip page components
  • Ensure all images are compressed 
  • Load Javascript at the bottom of the HTML file

Turning in cacheing is easy in Joomla. You just go into Global Configuration and turn it on. For an explanation of cacheing, read yesterday's blog post.

Luckily, since Joomla is a very versitile CMS, many of the consolidation and compression functions can be performed by a plugin. A plugin is a Joomla extension that changes the way Joomla outputs a web page. To do all of the consolidating and compressing functions, we tested three plugins:

  • Rollspeed
  • jFinalizer
  • JCH Optimize
All three of these extensions worked, however in the end, we found that JCH Optimize completed more of the above functions with no errors. After installing the JCH plugin, all we had to do was configure it. It consolidated all of our CSS and JavaScript files. We had to exclude a couple of files from that to avoid any conflicts. Implementing this improved the site's grade a whole to grade levels and yielded noticable speed enhancements for the site.
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