Calling in the big guns
As far as running a really professional looking, and performing site goes, I have several factors running against me at present. On a physical level the fact I host my site from home over a slim (by todays standards) 512/512 kilobit SDSL connection, and have a fairly slow (again, by todays standards) 1.2Ghz Athlon with 1GB or RAM as my webserver will limit growth potential of the site. I do plan to upgrade my server with the old parts from one of my PC's which will include an AMD XP2400+ CPU, Epox 8RDA+ motherboard with Dual channel DDR, and 768MB of PC-2700 Kingston DDR. This uprade will also alow me to configure my servers so that my webserver does nothing else apart from webserving, and leave all my current services such as Exchange and Active Directory on my current server. This will remove any server related bottleneck, but still leaves my current bandwidth as a limiting factor. Unfortunately there is not a great deal I can do about this while hosting my site from home as the 512/512 kilobit connection I am on is the fastest upstream bandwidth I am able to get in Australia as Telstra (major Australian telco) have imposed this limit in their DSLAM's. Unless Telstra decide to change this limit (unlikely), or other ISP's roll out their own DSLAMS (happening slowly), then my only real choice should my site outgrow this connection is to have the site professionally hosted.
With the above in mind I am looking to really optimise my site to reduce the HTTP requests and total site size to as little as possible. I have been able to get my site down to about 20 HTTP requests, but the site still weighs in at over 100K which is too much going on the 8 second rule (keep loading site times under 8 seconds). To really get the HTTP requests and total site size down to at least half of what they are now, I need to have a really clean Xoops theme and template system, and this is something that is beyond my skill level. I am currently in negotiations with one of the top Xoops theme and template developers, and hopefully we should see something that will knock the socks of the current site both in visual appeal, and performance by the end of the month.