In this week's Web Performance Today podcast, Strangeloop president Joshua Bixby talks with one of the smartest people in the performance industry -- Ilya Grigorik.
What Ilya doesn't know about web performance probably isn't worth knowing. As Developer Advocate and cornerstone of the Make the Web Fast team at Google, Ilya offers great insight into current and future industry trends. He and Joshua talk about why big CDNs need to adopt SPDY, how mobile is the next frontier for Google, and what it's like sharing an office with Steve Souders.
Making pages faster is a constantly moving target. With web pages growing larger and increasingly more complex, performance optimization can seem like a daunting task. To help you, we've gone through our Web Performance Hub archives to point you toward some amazing tips, tricks and how-tos from industry experts.
Here's a quick sampling of posts to help you with everything from improving page speed to measuring performance to creating faster buttons for mobile.
Ten Web Performance Tuning Tricks in 60 Minutes
Performance evangelist Richard Campbell opens up his web performance tuning toolkit and walks you through ten different techniques for improving web performance, including reducing payload size, latency, server and client compute times.
How We Improved Page Speed by Cleaning CSS, HTML and Images
Front-end developer Lara Swanson explains how to keep your page load time fast by using best practices and routinely cleaning up your CSS, HTML, and images in this detailed performance optimization case study for Dyn.
Optimize the Performance of Widgets, Buttons and More
Practical tips for fixing performance of common widgets and buttons from Digg, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google, and more.
How case-sensitivity for ID and ClassName can kill your page load time
Interesting findings from Andreas Grabner, showing how case-sensitivity causes a huge execution time difference in Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Firefox 6.
Speeding Up Your Website’s Database
Good how-to piece that explains how a database can slow down your site and how to speed it back up.
#114: Let's Do Simple Stuff to Make Our Websites Faster
Four easy things you can do to make your website faster.
Using Jdrop to measure mobile performance
A comparison of 11 mobile sites that shows how to use Jdrop to gather, analyze, and share mobile performance data.
Creating Fast Buttons for Mobile Web Applications
Google offers some tips and code for making your mobile buttons faster.
How to make a mobile site seem to load fast—even if it doesn’t
Speed is important in m-commerce. The illusion of speed is almost as good.
Measuring Mobile Performance
Front-end performance consultant Stephen Thair's presentation to the London Web Performance Meetup Group is packed with useful tips and how-tos.
These are just a few of the how-tos you'll find in the Web Performance Hub. See more!
We have the answers. Talk to a Strangeloop Performance Expert today.
Last week, in the first Web Performance Today podcast installment of 2013, Joshua spoke with the Geoffrey Smalling, CTO of Wine.com. This week, Joshua interviews one of the unsung heroes in the web performance community, Eric Goldsmith.
Eric is a performance evangelist and operations architect at AOL, as well as being a pioneer in the field of data mining. He's also in the enviable position of being able to leverage large-scale analytics technologies to collect and analyze data from AOL's web properties. With his extensive experience in big data and performance, Eric is an influential figure in the performance industry.
In this interview, Eric talks about the early days of WebPagetest, why we have to think like data scientists, and how the RUM world has changed in the past seven years.
Latency isn't the only obstacle to delivering faster web pages, but it's definitely one of the major challenges. Yet, if asked, many site owners would be hard-pressed to properly define what latency is, why it's a serious performance issue, and how it can be mitigated.
In the world of web performance, "latency" is the amount of time it takes for the host server to receive and process a request for a page object. The amount of latency is largely dependent on the distance between the user and the server.
To put this in context, if you visit a web page that has 100 objects (CSS files, images, etc), the browser has to make 100 individal requests to the site's host server in order to retrieve those objects. While some of these requests can happen concurrently, depending on the browser being used, the latency penalty can quickly add up.
Even for those sites using a content delivery network (CDN) to cache page objects closer to end users, latency is typically in the 75-140 ms range, equalling up to 2 or 3 seconds (or more) of additional load time. Although this number may seem low, it is significant when you consider that this is just one factor that can slow down your pages.
Latency can become a major problem when site owners try to serve extremely large pages to mobile users. For some mobile users, latency can reach a full second per page object. Multiply that by 300 objects and add a slow 3G network, and it's easy to understand why some pages hang endlessly when you try to view them on your smartphone.
Tackling latency is a high priority in the web performance industry. There are several ways to do this:
Newer browsers use multiple connections, which allows the browser to make simultaneous requests to the host server. Since 2008, many browsers have moved from 2 connections per domain to 6.
Google's SPDY protocol extends what the browser can do by adding a session layer atop of SSL. This allows for multiple concurrent streams over a single connection.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) cache content in distributed servers across a region or worldwide, bringing content closer to users and therefore reducing the round trip time.
Browser vendors are also working to improve the browser cache, so that it can (1) store files and serve them where relevant on subsequent pages in a visit, and (2) store and serve files for a repeat visit.
Front-end optimization (either automated or manual) addresses latency by consolidating page objects into bundles. Because fewer bundles means fewer trips to the server, the total latency hit is reduced. For example, a page with 63 objects could see those objects consolidated into 9 resource requests. FEO also leverages the browser cache and allows it to do a better job of storing files and serving them again where relevant. This prevents the browser from making repeat calls to the server.
Solving latency is an ongoing issue. To put it into context, last March, it was announced that a $1.5 billion fiber-optic cable project would connect the UK and Japan to reduce latency by 60 milliseconds. The reason:
The massive drop in latency is expected to supercharge algorithmic stock market trading, where a difference of a few milliseconds can gain (or lose) millions of d0llars.
We have the answers. Take a moment to book your phone meeting with one of our Performance Experts.
Until now, Joshua has spoken with key players in the web performance solution space. For the first podcast installment of 2013, he flips things around and talks with someone who buys the solutions -- Geoffrey Smalling, CTO at Wine.com.
With more than a million registered users, Wine.com has been ranked the #1 online wine retailer in the world by Internet Retailer magazine. Geoffrey describes the site as "the intersection between technology and wine".
In this interview, Geoffrey offers insight into how an ecommerce executive thinks about the web -- from cloud technology to performance measurement to mobile development -- and what kinds of worries keep a CTO up at night.
What better way to kickstart the new year than to make a list of predictions for the year to come? Strangeloop president Joshua Bixby offers his annual predictions for what 2013 will hold for site owners, mobile users, RUM vendors, and browser developers.
In May 2012, the average web page was 1 MB in size. Today, this number has grown to 1280 KB. At this rate of growth, Joshua predicts that a typical page could hit 2 MB by the end of this year -- a fact that would have shocked most people just one year ago. This page growth has serious implications for site owners in terms of bandwidth, and it could seriously hurt the mobile user experience.
As of December 2012, 29% of North Americans owned a tablet. With so many tablet options currently on the market, particularly the proliferation of inexpensive new tablets, that number will it 50% by the end of the year.
Today, mobile traffic accounts for 13% of total internet traffic. With numbers surging in China and India, that number will rise to 25% or more.
With the unprecedented adoption of tablets, there will be a huge increase in mobile shopping. On Black Friday, mobile phone and tablet shopping increased 6%, representing 24% of Black Friday online shopping. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2013, and 25% will become the norm for everyday mobile shopping.
It has happen eventually. Either you or someone you know will encounter this problem.
This will be the year that Android pulls ahead of iOS and stays ahead. Using our own team here at Strangeloop as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, our people have been moving to Android in incredible numbers. This is the most noticeable shift since 2009, when the mass exodus from Blackberry began.
Mobile sites will still be slow in 2013. Many people still believe that a simplified mobile site is the answer, while others are relying on responsive web design (RWD) for their mobile salvation. The reality is that there's no single magic bullet to improve mobile performance. Companies are going to have to dig deep and apply themselves to finding a combination of solutions that work for their environment and users.
By the end of 2013, Chrome will gain 45% of the worldwide browser market share -- most of which will be at the expense of Firefox. Internet Explorer will hold on to its marketshare, but not grow.
There will be big changes in the CDN market this year.
Amazon has the means to outspend almost everyone for content -- which is exactly what consumers will be looking for.
By the end of 2013, 65% of the top ecommerce sites will have a mitigation strategy in place.
This will be the year real user monitoring moves to the main stage for analytics vendors. By the end of the year, RUM will be found on 35% of ecommerce sites.
Last week, the Web Performance Today podcast series brought interviews with Buddy Brewer and Cliff Crocker. This week, we have the last installment of 2012 -- a great interview with Theo Schlossnagle.
As CEO of OmniTI, Theo has been in the performance industry since 1997. As a leading expert on scalability, he is a sought-after speaker at tech conferences around the world. Theo sat down with Strangeloop President Joshua Bixby to discuss his tech predictions for 2013, the challenges of running Velocity Beijing, and an interesting beer data project he has been working on.
If you have feedback or suggestions for a future topic or interview subject, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're honoured to have such incredible guests on our Web Performance Podcast series. Last week, we launched the series with Patrick Meenan and Stephen Thair. This week, we have great interviews with Buddy Brewer and Cliff Crocker.
Cliff Crocker met with Strangeloop President Joshua Bixby at Velocity EU and discussed Cliff's unique performance background. As a former solution vendor at Keynote, a senior engineering manager at Walmart, and now a solution vendor at SOASTA, Cliff is able to give perspective from both sides of the solution fence. Josh and Cliff also discuss the emergence of real-user monitoring (RUM) and Big Data.
At Velocity EU, Joshua also had a chance to sit down with Buddy Brewer, co-founder and CEO of LogNormal. LogNormal was recently acquired by SOASTA and is considered one of the most innovative RUM tools on the market. Josh and Buddy talked about where RUM is going, how to teach site owners to love it, and how Buddy and co-founder Phil Tellis were able to take their startup from bootstrap to acquisition in just over a year.
If you have feedback or suggestions for a future topic or interview subject, email email@example.com.
In this month's Web Performance Digest, learn how web performance played a central role in President Obama's re-election fundraising efforts, get a full rundown of performance numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012, and find out why Facebook is about to slow down (and why that's probably a good thing).
Responsive Responsive Design
24 Ways - December 5, 2012
Summary: Too often, responsive design means poor performance. Tim Kadlec discusses why this doesn't need to be true.
Using RUM to Calibrate your Synthetic Testing
Performance Calendar - December 2, 2012
Summary: Patrick Meenan discusses how to use real user measurement data to improve synthetic monitoring.
Meet the Obama campaign's $250 million fundraising platform
Kyle Rush - November 28, 2012
Summary: For the digital team tasked with online fundraising for Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, the stakes were high and the competition was tough. In the end, the campaign generated a record $1.1 billion, with over 60% coming via the web. This post breaks down the technical details of how the digital team made it happen.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday, 2012 - the results are in!
Catchpoint - November 28, 2012
Summary: During Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012, Catchpoint monitored the web performance of 70 websites. The goal was to compare performance of each site to see how well they handled traffic during the event. The results are in, and they show that online shopping has increased across the board. Check out this post for a rundown of key performance indicators (KPIs) from the day.
Mobile commerce's dirty little secret: it's slow as Minnesota molasses (in the winter)
VentureBeat - November 27, 2012
Summary: "Keynote tracked the speed and reliability of top U.S. e-commerce sites and found that they slowed down dramatically between Black Friday and Cyber Monday."
Web performance, at what cost? Trends for 2013
Newest Industry - November 27, 2012
Summary: While online revenue increased for retailers this holiday season - and few slowdowns or performance hiccups were reported - it's still important for site owners to continuously seek improvements. This article predicts that, in 2013, companies will be more mindful of how their sites perform.
5 reasons your website might slow down this holiday season (or anytime)
Apica - November 21, 2012
Summary: The holidays are always rife with the unforseen online. This holiday season, online revenues will reach record highs, but most of the rewards will go to companies with fast, responsive websites. Here are 5 things that could throw your web performance off course during the holidays.
Every day, Gmail users watch the loading bar for 61 years
Pingdom - November 21, 2012
Summary: The W3C web performance workshop brings together representatives from across the web performance community. Plenty of topics were addressed at this year's workshop, including Beacon API and real user monitoring (RUM) tools. Among the more interesting revelations: Gmail users spend a heck of a long time watching that progress bar.
Why Facebook's about to slow down (and that's probably good)
CNN.com - November 20, 2012
Summary: Facebook is in the process of moving all its North American users (and soon the rest of the world) to HTTPS, the type of secure connection often reserved for online banking or ecommerce transactions. As a result, your Facebook page will likely slow down, but you can opt-out if needed.
The Vanilla Web Diet
Smashing Magazine - November 19, 2012
Summary: Does the web need a diet? Despite years of development and performance advocacy, the internet has a serious obesity problem that's hurting application and page speed. This in-depth article discusses the numerous reasons behind the trend, and finishes with one bold recommendation.
Why Averages Suck and Percentiles are Great
Dynatrace.com – November 16, 2012
Summary: Averages are simple to understand and calculate, but are they effective? This article makes the case that the easy digestibility of averages makes us ignore the real performance characteristics of applications, and that percentiles paint a much more accurate picture.
Average Number of Web Page Objects Breaks 100
WebsiteOptimization.com – November 15, 2012
Summary: In just under 4 years, the average number of objects for a top 1000 web page has doubled from 49.9 to just over 100. Like the data size of a web page, the number of objects has a strong impact on performance, as it increases the number of HTTP requests.
Online viewers start leaving if video doesn’t play in 2 seconds, says study
GigaOm – November 14, 2012
Summary: As revenues decline for “traditional” web advertising mediums like banner ads, video is moving into the spotlight. But - to nobody’s surprise - video surfers are among the least patient web users. After 2 seconds, they start jumping ship. What percentage of viewers have abandoned after 5 seconds? Read on…
Failure to launch universal 4G will cost UK economy £120m this Christmas, warns eBay
Internet Retailing – November 14, 2012
Summary: Slow connection speeds are set to hit the UK economy right in the wallet this holiday season. As this eBay article outlines, the lack of universal 4G poses a major barrier for shoppers looking to complete purchases over their mobile devices.
SSL: The un-optimized frontier
Insouciant – November 13, 2012
Summary: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) optimization is extremely complicated, but as William Chan argues, “there’s low-hanging fruit everywhere” for site owners willing to try it. In this interesting article, he takes us through an in-depth case study of SSL optimization.
Only 1 out of 5 top ecommerce sites use RUM. Why?
Web Performance Today – November 13, 2012
Why everybody interested in performance should attend CMG ‘12
Alex Podelko – November 8, 2012
Summary: CMG is an annual conference organized by the volunteer Computer Management Group, a volunteer organization. Unlike most conferences, CMG covers almost all aspects of performance, and is filled with workshops and keynote sessions. Alex Podelko breaks down why this year’s conference is a can’t-miss.
Google Chrome: Always getting faster
Google – November 8, 2012
Summary: Google Chrome has seen a 26% speed improvement over the past year, and continues to get even faster. Check out this company release to learn how they do it.
Instagram CEO: The speed of the product dictates how often it’s used
GigaOm – November 7, 2012
Summary: Instagram’s increased speed not only improves the user experience, it makes people want to use the product more – according to CEO Kevin Systrom. This article outlines why application speed correlates to increased usage.
4 Big Data Insights from 42 Billion Page Views
Forbes – November 6, 2012
Summary: New Relic’s recent analysis of 42 billion page views has yielded a number of interesting insights on browser market shares, mobile market shares, mobile device usage, and browser performance. Read on…
Check out the rest of the Web Performance Hub for hundreds more links to the best selection of performance-related resources on the web.
In 2007, performance guru Steve Souders crystallized the mission of the web performance optimization industry with his groundbreaking book High Performance Websites. Among other things, Steve's book contained 14 core optimization rules that have stood as commandments for our industry.
But with 2007 now many "web years" behind us, we're often asked whether Steve's rules still apply. As one of our customers put it: "Aren't many of the web performance rules described by Steve Souders in 2007 already outdated or made obsolete by browser innovation?"
Strangeloop president Joshua Bixby has spent the past few months revisiting and re-testing Steve's rules. For a detailed breakdown of Joshua's methodology and findings, read Joshua's three-part series of posts (see parts one, two and three) on his blog.
For a shorter summary, read on to learn about Joshua's key findings and to find out which rules have stood the test of time and which are now obsolete.
Joshua had predicted that many of the rules would still be relevant, but we had also expected that browser evolution would have resulted in a greater gap between the results for older versus newer browsers.
It doesn't matter how much better modern browsers are at rendering page objects; fewer calls to the server still make a huge difference. For example, seeing that adding an Expires header leads to a 59% improvement in Chrome 19 tells us this technique is still incredibly relevant.
A content delivery network is a must-have for many sites, but it's not a standalone performance solution. Benefits will vary depending on which CDN you choose, as well as things like how your CDN stores content and how far their PoPs are from users.
Not only did Gzipping offer benefits in newer browsers, it offered even greater benefits than in older browsers. This is a really compelling finding. It shows that, despite the advances made in modern browsers, modern pages have also changed a lot — meaning that more than ever they can benefit from compression.
Start render really matters and the location of stylesheets is critical.
It was interesting to see how a rule — avoid CSS expressions — has become so entrenched over time that it is no longer an issue.
Newer browsers take care of the duplicate script problem — possibly due to the mitigating impact of doing better parallelism and/or more aggressive caching. But be sure to know whether or not a significant portion of your traffic uses IE6 or 7. If they do, then you still need to apply this rule. If you don’t apply it, you could be missing out on an opportunity to make a 15-20% performance gain.
Simply put, browser advancement has done little to negate the need for web performance optimization. For obvious reasons, we're relieved to confirm that our solutions are still necessary. :)
To learn how we apply core performance best practices -- along with dozens of our own patented rules -- in our web acceleration products, talk to a Strangeloop Performance Expert.