One of the problems that you may encounter when you add new features to your site is that you run the risk of slowing down the page load time. Before adding anything to your site, there are a couple of things you should check out. Even if you aren’t considering adding anything, you may want to take a look, just to see what’s what.
First, take a look at Web Site Optimization. In the interest of disclosure, this is a client of mine for Movable Type Consulting, so I’m not a completely unbiased observer. But the site is a good one. You can use their free web site analysis tool to see how long it takes your page to load. A quick look tells you how long it takes the items on your page to load – HTML, images, scripts, styles and the like. What’s even better is that you get a good look at how long it will take not just on your high-speed connection, but how long it might take on a slower connection as well, and some basic tips to speed things up. I’ll talk about that more in a minute.
Anyway, you get the idea. The point is that the more files you load, the longer it takes. Naturally, the larger the file, the longer it takes to load – but people tend to forget that the more files you open, the longer that can take too. For instance, the three Google AdSense files only take up about 14K, but they take about 155ms to load (on average – these can be cached as well, so load times can vary). Meanwhile, you might think that the 54K Kontera file would take longer than the much smaller Google files, but in reality, it only takes about 78ms – much, much faster (unfortunately, the other five Kontera files eat up the difference – they take about the same amount of time as the three Google files).
What I’m getting at is that your browser has to make a connection for each of these files, and the overhead for that connection is often what takes the time. The content that is being loaded may not be too large – the script files on the home page here only account for about 91K (which admittedly is probably too high), but it shouldn’t take long for that to load if it was in one file. Because it takes 10 individual requests, it took 624ms the last time I checked. That’s just insane, and it seems like people don’t pay it much attention every time they add another widget to their blog.