Performance is everything. Load time is one of the most crucial aspects in getting users or prospective clients to use your website. If your site takes minutes to load then no matter how useful your site may be no one will use it. The impatience of users has only shortened in recent years as the web has become a platform to share and use content.

Check Your Site

A few great places to check your page speed and site load performance is Pingdom Tools. Simply plug in the URL you want to test and the service does the rest. Based on the waterfall chart that it shows you can see where bottlenecks are being found in your service. It offers tips and areas for improvement, such as, leverage browser caching and minify CSS or JavaScript. A good tool if you need a quick way to see why your site might be loading slowly for your users.

If you're a fan of Google and use their services you can use their PageSpeed Tools. PageSpeed provides somewhat similar results, but then again who doesn't like getting a second opinion. The issues with you site are rated based on severity and you are given a score. Most of the issues you may notice with your site while testing on PageSpeed is that the structure of your site might be causing load time issues. They will even give you tips on how to compress images, CSS, or JavaScript to get the most efficiency out of your site. PageSpeed is a great way to understand certain elements on load are working and should help you do a little speed testing based on the changes you may take below.

Loading Your Site More Efficiently

Drupal comes with built-in performance tuning that allows you to cache pages, blocks, compress cached pages, aggregate and compress CSS, and aggregate JavaScript. Check it out by going to Configuration > Development > Performance from the admin menu. (http://your-site.com/admin/config/development/performance) Though there are times when you need to pull out the big guns in order to make your site run at peak efficiency. For those moments here are a list of modules to check out.

Boost

Boost is a great tool for speeding up Drupal performance, especially in shared hosting environments. However, you should be relatively familiar with Drupal in order to use it since it can be a chore to set it up properly. If you are using Drupal 7 you will need to have clean urls on, as well as, access to your .htaccess and robots.txt file ino refer to get Boost to work. Boost works by skipping the Drupal/PHP/MySQL process and serving HTML or HTML.gz files. The one drawback is that Boost works for anonymous users and there are other modules that can be used, but only if you have access to do some server-side changes.

CDN

Another option is to serve the bulk of your images and scripting from another server. The CDN module is a way to give Drupal 7 the ability to serve content from a CDN server. though like with most modules you will need a bit of experience with CDNs in order to set this up.

More Choices

Each of the ones below require that you have access to modify files on your server. If you are using a shared hosting environment then you will be out of luck.

  • Memcached
  • VarnishCache
  • MongoDB

    The one issue with most modules that will increase server load times for your Drupal site is that you'll need access to your server in order to set up most of these options. Though the Boost is the best option is the best for speeding up Drupal if the built-in caching is not doing the trick.