How We Teens Scale TechXav, A Blog That Started Off Without Any Money

Having a passion in social media and technology, Xavier started in June 2008 without any capital or experience. As the number of users began to grow at an exponential rate, he decided to make the switch to a self-hosted blog in February 2009. Today TechXav is one of the world’s most popular technology blogs ever contributed by a group of zealous teenagers. Based in Singapore and the United States, TechXav now has about ten writers and the number is growing. We wouldn’t be able to achieve our amazing feat without the support of our avid readers, followers on Twitter, and of course our sponsors — SmartBloggerz, Web Hosting Secret Revealed, TweetsBot, etc.

We write the articles all by ourselves, including the coding the web design, setting up our web host, developing (TechXav’s URL shortener), and even marketing our brand. As our pockets are rather shallow, we have to think twice before making a decision, especially when it comes to premium web hosting, subscriptions and services. Meanwhile, we also have to maintain a good scalability to provide an excellent user experience for our readers. Here are some of the methods we have embraced to make TechXav load faster, and we are still trying our best to improve it further.

1. The Choice of Web Hosting

As I’ve stated above, we don’t have much money to select a good web hosting like Media Temple or RackSpace. We used to host TechXav on Powweb (I’m not sure whether you’ve heard of that before), but we aren’t really satisfied with their the features they offer (no offense). One of them is reverse proxy, which is required for counts like the ones you see on the sidebar (Twitter follower count and RSS feed subscriber count).

We were thinking about switching to a web hosting service with the concept of “Cloud Computing” instead. To our dismay, GoDaddy Grid Hosting is indeed a perfect choice as it provides unlimited compute cycles with an affordable price of just $4.99 a month. GoDaddy Grid Hosting soon became our primary web host by the end of 2009. In terms of memory consumption, a total amount of 200 MB RAM for web and database is needed for TechXav, and GoDaddy Grid Hosting is probably the only web host out there that provides such features at a reasonable price. (For instance, Bluehost has a memory limitation capped at just 32MB, which may affect the maximum concurrent connections of a website.)

2. The New Design

During the November school holidays last year I spent two weeks re-designing a new theme for TechXav. The reasons why we decided to work on the design by ourselves are to reduce bandwidth and to include what we really need (premium templates lack some features that we require) . The theme is developed using the Buffet Framework, an extremely light-weight framework created by a fellow Singaporean.

There were mixed responses when we rolled out the new design. But overall, it has help us garnered many RSS feed subscribers since the launch. We will soon release an update to our design after the Lunar New Year in mid-February. For example, we will redesign the header and navigation bar as it looks a little messy whenever a visitor refresh the page.

3. Offload Javascript Library, bottom Javascript loading & compressed CSS

Here are some of the tools that we used for Javascript and jQuery. YSlow by Yahoo! tells us how we can speed up our website, and for the Offload Javascript Library, we are currently using Google Code for jQuery and jQuery UI. We have also installed a plugin to put the Javascript at the bottom of the page to improve the response time. We even compressed the blueprint CSS framework to reduce the size of CSS stylesheets.

These methods/tools not only helps us reduce our cost, but more importantly, it gives our readers a better and intuitive user experience. What’s more is that through the design of TechXav, we have learned quite a lot about Web Design and Web Development. In the future, we need not to either purchase premium templates or hire an external web designer to help us do the job.

4. Cookie-free Domain for Attachments, Images and Stylesheets

It’s always recommended to use a cookie-free domain to reduce possible uploading of meaningless cookies to static assets. It’s the key to faster pages and it looks more professional than our original… Like any other top blogs or websites, we used an external domain called “” to push the static assets. Currently “” is used to push the attachments and “” is used to push the theme files.

Web browsers will not send any cookies to the server at, so that no excess traffic is generated. Besides embracing such a method to minimize traffic, it’s to prepare for Global CDN Cache in our future plans.

Here are four methods that we are using to improve page responsiveness and reduce traffic and loading time. Actually we have more ambitious plans which will be launched in the future, these plans will help us to handle a higher level of popularity of TechXav:

  • Global CDN: Our readers outside the United States aren’t able to view our articles fast enough, and we apologized for that. We plan to use Global CDN to push our static assets, within the origin of “”. This will eventually improve page responsiveness further.
  • Singapore Mirror: It’s ironic that a Singapore-based website doesn’t have a Singapore Mirror! The average tendency from Singapore to the United States is about 180 milliseconds to 240 milliseconds, which is WAY TOO LONG! We will soon build a local mirror to serve most Asian countries as well as OURSELVES! (We have concerned too much about our US readers, 🙂 )
  • Rackspace Cloud Sites: It costs $100 a month, and we don’t have that sort of money. It would be great if some of the you guys could support us financially. This will bring TechXav to the next level. Currently, we can only dream about it.

You can support us and help us scale TechXav further and bring us more traffic via the following ways: