Customizing Themes

Mephistos Customer ThemeI admit it, that sometimes I am little slow. In this particular case, my slowness is causing some of my blogs using WordPress to be slow when loading up and it took me until the other day to realize it. What is the slowness and why? Well, frankly it is the customization that is available with certain themes these days. Granted, I have not taken the customizing as far you could run with it, but there are more than a few themes out now (of which, at least two of them I have used either now or in the not so far off past) that you could run on two sites and not have anything similar on them.

By customizing, I am not talking about necessarily the various options which set menus and widget locations, and really not referring two the selection between a couple of different color palettes. Those are small slow downs at best and in least some cases, it appears it is just separate code that used to achieve those various effects – clearly those custom menus are now a standard part of the core WordPress. No, I am talking about those things where you can change hundreds of colors and format settings, so that you can end up with a completely different look and still use the same theme.

The fact that you can do that is pretty darn cool and I have been all into it. Of course the first such one that I was using had some upgrade issues where my settings were not always saved, so I backed of that one and found a different one. With customization, I found myself using it on five different blogs and while there were similar styles (I got into a rut) they were vastly different for the most part from blog to blog, especially in color and to a lesser extent layouts.

Thus I began to notice a significant slowness on a couple of the blogs. And of course those are the blogs with the most customization as well the large overall database size. Granted, the hosting platform I am using has been getting a bit slower (due I think to allowing to many accounts on a shared server), but it was really started to be a hit on the Google charts – which is taken into account with some of their search engine ranking mechanism.

After close inspection and follow things as they loaded more than a few times, it finally occurred to me the extra calls to database before the layout of the CSS and such could be full populated to actually then give the data over and present it on the user’s screen was a big hit on the time going into the loading of a page. And of course the more options that were custom above and beyond the basic settings – the more data that had to be pulled out via variable into the PHP and CSS for setting up and executing what the page was going to look like for the users.

Some testing with some of the newer themes that are all hard-coded for the most part in the theme, with very minimal if any customizing capability on my test side shows a vast improvement. Additionally, some functions, like sliding ‘tabs’ are already included and ready implement by simply pushing data into them. So, from a speed standpoint alone I will be slowly converting over to more of a statically coded theme for all my blogs, as I find the right one to give the right feel that I want for each of them. This should improve performance, give a few newer options, and will go a step further to differentiate my different blogs.