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High Performance for Contra Costa County

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Traffic is seasonal based on local election cycles and holidays, but we can document a 20 per cent increase in visits since implementing WEBO Site SpeedUp.

Launched in early 2004, Halfway to Concord (www.halfwaytoconcord.com) is a blog covering news, politics, culture, business and various events for Contra Costa County. The site’s hyper local focus has helped it become a leading independent online news source for East Bay of Northern California, USA.

Halfway to Concord has more than 12k unique visitors monthly, most of them return to the website at least once a week. The website core is a WordPress installation on a Bluehost dedicated server. But even this didn’t provide sufficient page load time which was more than 5 seconds for every page. And Bill Gram-Reefer, Halfway to Concord founder and editor, decided to improve user experience with speedier loading site to increase readership.

Because of its hyper local focus and audience, Halfway to Concord cannot currently accelerate with CDN usage or any number of particular WordPress hacks. There must be a solution to provide maximum website performance. “We had slow loading pages”, says Gram-Reefer. “Many visitors chose to move on before page load.”

CDN or other network distribution solutions didn’t fit because the website is located very closely to the vast majority of its visitors and server response time is not crucial. But a complete set of performance optimization practices – including file compression to multiple host usage and unobtrusive logic implementation – provided by WEBO Site SpeedUp resolved all issues.

“While experiencing some expected bumps in the road during implementation, WEBO Software tech support was helpful and gracious, eager to help customers instead of berate them for asking questions”, Gram-Reefer adds. Through close collaboration, Halfway to Concord was accelerated approximately 2.8 times, especially for return visitors. And they were grateful!

Finally YSlow was improved from 56 to 90. This brought about 20 per cent increase in visits. With a few simple actions automatically handled with WEBO Site SpeedUp, the website became faster and could handle more advertisement and visitors.

Only a full range of website load speed optimization methods can help such local websites or small blogs to provide new levels of user experience for their readers. And this can be easily achieved with very little effort.

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