Guilty as charged on both accounts. I just turned on caching on the homepage, so hopefully that'll be a little snappier. Caching for the rest will need to wait until tomorrow. I'm not a designer, and I didn't want to wait until the design was perfect before launching. Hence, it looks like does :) I have some plans for the design, but it didn't seem likely to be a show-stopper at this point.
Agreed on the "empty pages" problem. I want the browse categories page to be a lot more informative, and show number of open requests in each category + 1-2 recent requests for that category.
Isn't getting people to respect any new web app a challenge? :) Thanks for the feedback!
Holy Yikes! Are you saying that this little web app, seeing maybe 2k visitors from a Wednesday-evening hackernewsing, with nothing but a few test entries in the database is actually slowing down to the point that you need to implement CACHING for the homepage?
What technology in combination with what $5/month hosting company could you possibly have used to achieve such terrible results?
I do have this on a pretty crappy host at the moment, as I didn't expect to get much traffic (it also got picked up ReadWriteWeb today). I'm using CakePHP, which is great for rapid development but does unfortunately have some overhead, so I turned on caching, which entails changing one setting, and the homepage is then served almost as a static html file (there's still a few lines of PHP in there). It helps a little, and I didn't see any reason not to do it. Really appreciate your supportive attitude, though :)
Most of the CakePHP are slow complaints are more issues of not knowing how to use it. Suggest if you really think CakePHP is being slow set $recursive = -1; in all of your models and use Containable to only fetch related model data when needed. You should be able to hit tens of thousands of unique visitors per day without caching no problem.
Remember that you will need to add indexes to the database manually. Cake won't screw with your database by adding them itself.
I've done xdebug profiling and cake does add some non-negligiable overhead. However, 90% of the issue here is that the host is really crappy, and the latency on the db is bad, so view caching is helping. It'll be moved to a new host in 48-72 hours.