Page Size and Number of Requests

Three primary factors are going to affect the speed of your site: hosting, requests, and page size.

1. Hosting – Your site is never going to be faster than the server that it’s running on allows it to be. That is why at Orange Geek we have taken careful consideration into how much power you need in relation to how many people are viewing your site. We will work with you to ensure that the hardware your site is running on is never the bottleneck holding you back from a faster loading site. All plans at Orange Geek are on their own VPS (Virtual Private Server). This means that your site has its own dedicated resources and computing power. As long as your site is in our range of recommended monthly page views for your current plan, you are good to go in this category. Upgrading a plan unnecessarily will likely not improve the performance of your site, you should look at optimizing the below factors first. If you have any questions about hosting, we’d be happy to answer them for you!

2. Requests – Every resource loaded by your site including: HTML, CSS, Javascript, images, etc. must make a request to a webserver for that resource. Your pages’ speed will be affected by the source, number, and size of the resources you send requests for.

Source – Your site will load internal and external resources. An internal resource is one that is being loaded from the same server as your site, most of your resources should fall under this category.

i.e. your site at https://mysite.com is loading the resource https://mysite.com/wp-content/uploads/themes/mytheme/mycss.css

An external resource is a resource that is loaded from any other server. You want to avoid external resources whenever possible. This is because you have no control over the server that is loading that external resource or how responsive it is. In general, only use external resources for trusted sites or when necessary.

i.e. your site at https://mysite.com is loading the resource http://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js This is fine as google is a trusted source and you don’t want to host analytics.js locally in case google makes any changes to it.

Number – The number of resources you send requests for can depend on several things: plugins, number of posts, number of images, ads, social icons, etc. Intuitively, the less stuff you have loading on a page, the faster that page will load. Some WordPress plugins can lessen the amount of resources that need to be loaded by combining them into a single .js or .css file.

Size – The size of a resource depends mainly on the type of that resource. Text resources such as css and js are usually small. They can be made even smaller by compressing the files. Images have a larger size than text but can be compressed by lowering the quality and size of the images. Size can also be reduced by using the proper image format for the type of image you are loading (.jpg, .png). Videos are often very large in size, most times it is preferable to load them as external resources from a server that specializes in video hosting such as youtube or vimeo.

3. Page Size – This is the final factor affecting how fast your page is going to load. Really it is just a direct result of the requests your site sends. It is the total size of all loaded resources. The less a user has to download on your site, the faster it will be loaded. Optimizing images, using less plugins, compressing files, and loading less content are all effective ways to decrease your page size.

To view information on the number of requests and the size of a web page, we recommend you use a tool such as Chrome Development Console. There are similar tools in all modern web browsers; however, when using Google Chrome you can simply press the F12 button, click the network tab, and then refresh your page. The following information will be similarly displayed:

1. An individual request
2. The status of this request, 200 means the resource was successfully loaded
3. The file type of the requested resource
4. The total time it took to load this individual resource
5. The size of this individual resource (not given if it was already in your cache)
6. Total number of requests sent by this page
7. The total size of all loaded resources
8. The time it took to fully load all resources, doesn’t appear until page has no resources left to load. You may want to enable a browser extension such as adblocker to get a more accurate reading here.

All the suggestions offered by Google’s PageSpeed test are due to one of the 3 factors being sub optimal. In the next posts we will start looking into individual suggestions, how they have an effect on these factors, and specifics on how to follow the suggestion.


Read the rest of the posts in this series:

PageSpeed or page speed, Which is more Important?
PageSpeed Part I – Image Optimization
PageSpeed Part II – JavaScript/CSS
PageSpeed III – Optimize the Mobile Experience, Browser Caching, & Redirects