The need for speed

In a further attempt to make the site load faster, I’ve installed a plugin called W3 Total Cache which promises to optimise performance. It’s up and running now, but I can’t tell if it’s made any difference really – as this site is currently small it probably has little effect.

I’ve been testing the site using Pingdom Tools to see how long it takes to load, and currently it looks like the biggest slow-down is caused by the background image:

Speed test result for from Pingdom Tools

So to further improve things I’ll either have to reduce the size of the background image, or get to work on my own theme (ha!).

Having made a few posts recently, I’m quite impressed by the ease-of-use of WordPress, especially when it comes to maintenance, installing new plugins etc. I wish Drupal made it this simple.

Privacy settings – argh!

Yes, I’ve missed something really simple. For a while I’ve been wondering why this site doesn’t show up on Google. I’d assumed it was because the previous incarnation of the site was just a load of links and that this might breach their terms and conditions, so I submitted the site for reconsideration (via Webmaster Tools) to see if this was the problem. In the meantime, I tried fetching the site as the Googlebot (another feature of Webmaster Tools), only to find that this was ‘Denied by robots.txt’. That’s strange, I thought, I don’t recall creating a robots.txt for this site. I checked the root directory on the webserver and couldn’t see any sign of robots.txt.

I thought I must be going mad, so I viewed the source of the index page, only to see there was a meta tag saying ‘noindex’ and ‘nofollow’. So clearly this was something generated by WordPress, as I hadn’t explicitly put them there. On a whim I decided to try to see if I could view robots.txt via the browser, and what do you know, it displayed a robots.txt file disallowing everything!

I dug around in the admin settings, until finally I found the Privacy page – and lo and behold, it looked like this:

Privacy setting in WordPress admin

Aaaargh! So I changed to the other setting, and now robots.txt shows correctly, and the meta tag has gone from the source. So simple when you know how! I feel like such a fool. The Googlebot still won’t fetch the site, but I guess maybe they’re using a cache or something, so will check again in a few days…


I’ve enabled gZip compression on my webserver in an attempt to make the site load a bit more quickly. It seems to have worked a little bit, according to a compression checker page now uses 69% less data and is 3.1x faster than before. Not sure it’s that much quicker, but every little helps.

For future reference, I followed the instructions at BetterExplained to add a line to my .htaccess file to deflate text based files.

New theme and Twitter

I’ve installed a new theme – it’s now using Glowing Amber 1.4 by Pixel Theme Studio. Looks a lot better now, one day I will sit down and look into creating my own theme but for now I just don’t have the time.

I’ve also added My Twitter by Xhanch to show my 5 latest tweets on the right. Could maybe do with adding some bullet points or some other way of separating the tweets, but perhaps that’s something that needs to be changed in the theme rather than the widget.

CSS Editor

I’m impressed that you can edit the CSS for the theme directly from the Dashboard, although I’m struggling with making the text for this theme smaller, I may well go back to the standard theme and try to customise it myself…