If you need some resources to start to understand why web page and request optimization is essential for web developers then you’ll do far worse than starting with the following:
- Install and run YUI (for Firebug)
- Read the Yahoo best practices for page speed
- Read the Google version of events
You’ll then need to see, based on running tools like YUI, where the best gains can be made on your side. Chances are you’ll get best results from:
- Use of CSS Sprites
- Positioning of page content and resources (top or bottom etc.)
We have a pre-deployment process that combines and minifies CSS and JS files prior to upload. The live servers know to include these smaller resources in the web pages, the test and development servers know to include the raw files.
How you proceed really depends a lot on your setup, but some steps (such as use of a Content Delivery Network) are really for the big boys in my experience. Have fun!