The small excerpt from the blog post below emphasizes how important page load times are on the Internet.
At Google, we focus constantly on speed; we believe that making our websites load and display faster improves the user’s experience and helps them become more productive.
I cannot agree more. I always strive to decrease the load time on my website with the hope it will make my user’s experience a better and more productive one. Everyone loves instant gratification – no one likes to wait! If your site is slow, you’re in trouble. It is almost a guarantee you will lose a lot of traffic if your site is slow or just unavailable. Not to mention if your site is down a lot it could really hurt your Google rankings.
In recent efforts to decrease the load time on my site I have installed nginx (Pronounced Engine X) on my server to serve up all of the static files on the server. In conjunction with nginx I have Apache running to serve up all of the dynamic content. By doing this it takes a load off Apache and therefore increases performance and decreases load times.
If you are just starting a website you may want to consider using a sub domain such as static.domain.com for all of your images and other static files. That method alone will help speed things up, however, if you can use the setup I talked about above along with the sub domain it would be even better. I will most likely make a post at a later date which includes my configuration file for nginx and how it works with Apache.
It also helps to have decent server hardware. This site is currently running on a AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+, 2GB DDR2 RAM, 2x 400GB SATA II HDD, and 1GB NIC. I have just purchased a new server though which I will be moving everything to in the next week or so.
The new servers specs:
Intel® Core™ i7-920 Quadcore incl. Hyper-Threading Technology
RAM 8 GB DDR3 RAM
Hard discs 2 x 750 GB SATA-II HDD (Software-RAID 1)
NIC 1 GBit OnBoard
Hopefully between my new configuration and new server the page load times will decrease drastically. I have definitely noticed a difference already (especially on the forums).