New host for TheEquityKicker – pages should load faster now

By June 28, 2010Blogging

Some of you will have caught the Tweet I sent on Friday asking for suggestions of new hosting companies for TheEquityKicker.  Regular readers will know I think speed is important for websites and primarily for this reason I have been meaning to move away from Bluehost (my old hosting company) for a little while and was kicked into action last week after a couple of emails and comments talking about the slow load times everyone has been experiencing and then on Friday I experienced a 12s load time on a decent connection.  Bluehost were pretty fast when I started with them a couple of years ago but they have got much worse recently, a development that I suspect might be the result of their shift to an unlimited storage offer and the difficulties with planning server capacity that resulted.

A number of you were kind enough to offer suggestions on Twitter and I ended up going with TSOHost – a smallish UK host recommended to me by Paul Miller.  I chose them because:
  • The largest part of this community is based in the UK and a UK based host should give them slightly faster page load times
  • I liked the idea of local customer service
  • Their package seemed about right for a blog of this size (150-200k page views per month)
  • When I called them up to ask whether they would help me move to them from Bluehost they set out a very simple and easy process – download a full back up from Bluehost, upload it to the TSOHost servers, let them know and they would rebuild the blog out of the backup
I kicked off that process on Friday night but had a few problems uploading the 433MB file to their servers.  I finally got it uploaded on Saturday morning and sent a message to TSOHost support.  They were incredibly responsive and helpful, giving me some options for dealing with a couple of changes I wanted to make, fetching a new copy of the backup from Bluehost directly when it emerged the copy I uploaded was corrupted, and helping me view the site on a temporary URL before switching the nameserver over.
In summary, so far my experience with TSOHost has been second to none.  Hopefully their server performance going forward will hit the same high standards.
Next on my agenda is a new theme.  I am thinking that a three column layout with the posts on the left and two narrow columns of widgets on the right, and with an image across the top which suggests London (as the current picture of the London Eye is intended to do).  Let me know if you have any thoughts/suggestions/ideas.
  • Martin Stillman-Jones

    Nic, Brand Owners get to “branding wear out” a long time before their audience. I suspect this may be the case here 🙂
    The London Eye is great imagery and has for myself (and a number of others I know who follow you), become synonymous with your blog.
    To change it, essentially because you’re bored with it, weakens not strengthens your Brand – your blog is a major part of the Brand that is “Nic Brisbourne”.
    My advice? Leave well alone unless you are receiving specific (and material) feedback that your current blog isn’t delivering for your audience. For my part I find your blog easy to read, informative and simple to navigate around. If you want to re-invent it because you're bored with it, not because your audience is, ask yourself what you're seeking to gain? If you've other objective not articulated above, its a different story.

  • Thanks for the feedback Martin. I appreciate it.

    I'm thinking about a refresh for the theme because:
    – a couple of readers have said the theme looks tired now
    – in my perception website design has moved on a lot since I worked on the current layout and part of my brand (maybe self image??) is to be up to date with latest trends
    – the way the current London Eye image renders jars with the eye slightly, in my opinion at least, plus I've never really loved that image
    – I would like to have space on the right to experiment with a two column width display ad

    Maybe I should go for a different London Eye image. I quite like the idea of a hand drawn version.