infuriated24 June 2106 –

Since joining the personal finance/FIRE online community, I’ve subscribed to quite a few blogs from other members (around 40 so far). I read pretty well all of their new posts which can be quite time consuming especially when some of them post new material several times a week. Quite honestly, I don’t know where they find the time to write that often.

And so, I am becoming quite aware of the shortcomings of many of the sites I’m seeing, which leads me to this post.

So fellow bloggers, listen up. This one’s for you (and for anyone else considering building a blog site).

Now don’t get me wrong and get your backs up about what I’m saying. It’s not personal but someone has to say it.

First, let me clarify what I am about to tell you. This is not about your content. In fact, I am constantly amazed by the quality of the articles published by you all. And remember, I do take the time to read quite a few each week.

No, this is about how your sites perform downloading themselves to my humble computer and mobile phone.

I have found that many sites take a significantly long time to load. Now, I’m no expert but it appears to be because of a combination of the ads you run, and the additional pop-up windows that are also competing with the stuff I want to see.

I do understand the reasons for monetising your site with affiliate links, Google AdSense, news feeds and various others, but it’s causing your site to have some serious performance issues reaching your audience.

And it’s not just blog sites that suffer from this slowness. These days, there are so many informational sites that are being handicapped by the addition of so many ads and pop-ups.

According to Google, the acceptable average page load speed should be under two seconds. I have been going to sites where the load time is in excess of 15 seconds!!

Not only is that giving your audience a poor experience but slow speeds can have a negative effect on how search engines rank your site.

“We do say we have a small factor in there for pages that are really slow to load where we take that into account.” John Mueller, Google

The other issue, from a user point of view, is that many of these pop-ups block the very stuff that I came here to see.

I get ‘Subscribe here’ pop-ups, ‘Get your free download pop-ups, and my all-time favourite (not) is the side bar with all of your social media icons on it. This one I have to hunt around to find the ‘close’ button so that I can finally read the content it was hiding.

Which leads to me to my next moan, errrr, point.

I tend to do most of my Twittering on my smart phone. It just works out the most convenient way to check out a few new stories when I have a few spare minutes and the phone is far more convenient than starting up the computer.

What I’m seeing though is quite a few bloggers have sites that don’t work well on my small screen.

Again, there are numerous pop-ups asking me to subscribe which not only block the real content, i.e. my reason for visiting, but when I try to close them, the whole page closes grrrrrrr. In these cases, I give up and move on. Sorry guys.

And so, to bring this to a close, can I ask one thing? Please go and check how your site looks and performs on other computers and smart phones.

You may be on a blisteringly fast, hyper, fibre-to-the-home network but some of us are still using steam-powered aDSL and we suffer from slow load times when your site is over-burdened with additional information, especially the sort we may not really want.

If you do have numerous pop-ups, consider reducing them to a minimum or removing all together. If I like your site and I can see a ‘Subscribe’ link, I will use it.

And maybe, consider reducing the number of paid ads and affiliate links you run on your site. Maybe pick just the ones that make you money and ditch the rest cos’ it’s killing your site.

And if you are finding ongoing performance issues with a site you regularly visit, send the owner a quiet note explaining what the problem is. They may have no idea and you’ll hopefully be doing them a favour by bringing it to their attention.

However, be it not for me to cast scorn over other sites when mine may not be perfect either. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please do let me know.

And now I’m going to load a few more blogs to read then go and make myself a cup of tea while I wait for them to arrive.

Have a great weekend everyone.

UPDATE: Following my own advice, I did a few performance tests on the Get FIRE’d asap site, including checking historic performance metrics in my host’s cPanel.

Lo and behold, It appears I’m getting several instances a week where my site crashes due to overloading.

Not a good look so I have now increased my hosting service level up one notch and hopefully that won’t happen again.

I’ll be checking that a bit more regularly from now on to ensure my site’s performance and uptime is maintained.

24 thoughts on “Optimise your site – An appeal to my fellow bloggers”

  1. As a site publisher, I definitely welcome feedback of this nature. It’s so hard to know how your site is perceived by others.

    Just yesterday, I received a message from a reader that the site wasn’t optimized for mobile. I thought that was odd because I have a separate mobile theme installed that should be running seamlessly. I’m still not sure why it wasn’t for this reader, but I got a follow up message later in the day telling me it was now working.

    One of my pet peeves is that I do quite a bit of browsing on a tablet. And for some reason, many sites have a share bar on the left that interferes with the text. It makes it difficult to read the post when the first word of every line is covered up.

    Thanks for bringing ths up. And if you do see something on someone’s site, I suggest sending them a quick message to let them know. I think most of us would be greatly appreciative.

    1. Hi there FS. That side bar you mention is exactly the one I talked about that hides the left hand side of the text especially on a small screen.

      Good point on letting site owners know about any issues they have. I’m adding a line to my post suggesting that.

  2. I had a mobile display issue for an unknown amount of time due to an add that I uncovered yesterday.

    I think all of your points are fair, there is a fine line between promotion and burden.

    As someone that has ads/affiliate links I definitely need to be mindful of this and pull back if it blocks/interferes with content

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting AE. It’s been a source of frustration for me reading so many blogs. I know it’s just a few extra seconds of my day, in most cases, but we have become use to near instant page loads now haven’t we.

  3. I agree Martin, there are some sites that have way too much stuff – particularly ones with 2 email signups that show up every time you open it – kinda turns me off that site. We will always try to keep the amount of things that are ‘in your face’ to a minimum.


    1. Hi Tristan. Absolutely, those are the sites I’m talking about. Overburdened with extra pop-ups as well as advertising links. I think that many of these are features that can be enabled in various themes and free blog hosting sites and their owners don’t know how much it detracts from their audiences’ experience. Hence, my call to go and check out their sites on other computers.

  4. I have experienced some sites where have gotten multiple pop-ups on the mobile site, making it almost possible to read the content. Now I am not perfect, I do have a pop-up but I set it up to one show up for users every 1-2 weeks to try and cut back on the annoying factor. Unfortunately, when it comes to pop-ups, they work well for collecting emails so they probably won’t disappear anytime soon.

    I do agree though, it is all about the the user experience so as a blogger, I do need to take the user experience win account when putting together my site. Nice insights! I may need to tweak a few things.

    1. Hi there Thias, I do understand the reason for the pop-ups and the advertising links but too many can make the user experience pretty hard work.

      Optimising them so that the site owner still gets the click-thru’s etc but not too many that it slows loading speed or obscures part of the content, especially on smaller screens.

    1. Hopefully it will prompt everyone to go and check out how their sites are performing and how they look to their audience. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Francesca.

  5. Thanks for these great reminders. I hate, hate, hate popups too… yet they work. So I made mine small and it only covers the bottom corner of the sidebar and only shows up every few weeks. So am I only partly evil?

    If people are having trouble with mobile devices, the X Theme is fantastic and converts it all automatically and beautifully. If you decide to use it, feel free to message me and I’ll do what I can to help you through the transition. There’s no sense reinventing the wheel, right?

    I also agree with everyone else who said we really appreciate any comments to give us a heads up when our sites could be better.

    1. Thanks for the comment Julie (and shameless plug for Theme X). I am not certain but I think that the worst offenders (site theme-wise) are the free hosting sites. They seem to have way more advertising than others which is how they get their income I guess. And it’s one of the reasons I stayed away from ‘free’ which is most unlike me. Usually I put up with a little interference for a free ride. But in some cases, paid is better.

  6. All very good points, particularly the social media bar. Another one for me, which I do experience with your site, is not being able to zoom in and make the text larger on my iPad. Maybe something you could look into? I can use the Reader setting, but sometimes zooming is better.

    1. Hi there Mrs TT and thanks for dropping in and commenting. I will have a look into why you can’t zoom in. I’m assuming that you mean by using your fingers to ‘squeeze’ the screen. I have no idea what the technical term for that is.

    2. Hey hey hey Mrs TT. I’ve fixed the problem. Seems that in some themes the mobile size is set by the developer. I installed a nifty little plugin called “Definitely allow mobile zooming” that undoes all of their hard work.

      Please feel free to zoom away 🙂

    1. It’s well worth doing as part of your ongoing site maintenance. Like i mentioned in a previous comment, I picked up some improvements for my site to make it a better experience. Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment.

  7. I hate pop ups as well and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any on my site. The thing is they’ve been proven to increase conversions so website owners would often rather piss a few people off to increase their user database.

    As I run the blog just for fun I don’t really care too much about that so try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum.

    Saying that if there is anything that you find annoying about my blog please let me know, I won’t be offended!

    I know it can be slow to load but as I said I only do it for fun so not going to pay extra for faster hosting I’m afraid. Also I know I don’t have a mobile theme but I picked a theme that works on both Mobile and desktop well I think with the main content in a nicely shaped strip in the middle. But again if you have other views on that let me know!

    Oh yea and I detest those social media sidebars ! Get rid of them!


    1. Hi there FIREstarter, I went and had a ‘critical’ look at your site and am pleased to confirm no pop-ups and none of those bloody social media side-bars. You score an honest 10 out of 10 for user friendliness.

      I haven’t tried your site on mobile but I’ll tell you what I do like. Your site has it’s own design rather than one of the cookie-cutter themes that most of us use. Therefore, it scores points with me for uniqueness. A little extension of your own personality perhaps??

      1. Thanks for the feedback Martin.

        With regards to the theme, I just went through the ridiculously long list of free themes you can get when you sign up to wordress and picked one I liked the look of, but I did deliberately pick a darker theme as that seems more rate nowadays. Some people have commented that they think it looks cluttered etc before but I like it, so it stays (for now, till I get bored with it)

  8. I try to be patient with blogs that are less than perfect, as the technical stuff is still a bit (of a massive) challenge. A hugely annoying feature is pop up subscription boxes, especially on mobile. I think it’s because I opted for a cheapish phone, but clicking on the cross doesn’t always get rid of the pop up, so I can’t even read the article to know if it’s a site I’d wanna sign up to!

    1. The technical challenge has certainly lessened with the arrival of WordPress but yeah, there are definitely some tricks to tweaking it in shape. I def agree with the pop-out subscription box and it does the same on my phone too. The other pet hate is the social media sidebar that I can’t get rid of on my phone and blocks the left side of text. Grrrrrrrr…..

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