As many of you know, we migrated backpackinglight.com to a new server / hosting platform in early June. The sole purpose of the move was to create a server environment that could deliver content to you faster.
The migration went pretty much without a hitch, and we are enjoying much faster page loading speeds now! We still have some minor bugs to sort out, but they’re mostly related to our new caching / content delivery network, and not to the new server.
It’s important to note what we’re primarily looking at with respect to page load performance – ah yes, definitions are everything.
My very highest website performance priority is to make sure that backpackinglight.com content — article text, images, and forum posts — are delivered to your browser as fast as possible. We’ve reprogrammed the site to optimize this. There will be some “elements” that load “asynchronously” – after the important stuff – like some ad-network-served advertisements. That’s fine by me. The ad networks can sort that out, and frankly, that’s between me and them – not between you and me. You’re not here for the ads, you’re here for the content. I simply want to make sure you get what you are looking for — the good stuff! Forums and articles – as fast as possible!
That said, we are looking mostly at the page load time metric that defines when our content – the stuff we deliver from our server is loaded. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s simply call this the “page load time”. Check it out:
- Before the migration to the new server in early June, our users were experiencing average load times of home page content in excess of 7 seconds, average load times of the Recent Forum Posts page in excess of 10 seconds, and average page load times of a long, image-rich article page in excess of 14 seconds.
- After the migration to the new server, our users have been experiencing average load times of the home page in less than 2 seconds, average load times of the Recent Forum Posts page in less than 4 seconds, and average page load times of a long, image-rich article page in less than 3 seconds!
- Interestingly, our metrics before the migration were measured during non-peak (middle of the night) traffic loads, and the metrics after migration were measured during peak (Sunday evening) traffic loads!
- Even Better: This is with our CDN (content delivery network) / worldwide caching turned OFF (it’s off right now). With it turned on, we can improve page load times by another factor of 2! But we have some minor but irritating bugs right now, and we’re in the process of sorting those out, so it’s off for now.
A lot of software engineering went into this upgrade, mainly related to how database requests are processed, and how concurrent connections are managed by the server.
This sets us up for a really exciting future, and we can now start working on creating new features for backpackinglight.com.
Thanks for your patience, we are pretty jazzed about the next several months!