Last week I read Steve Souders’ High Performance Web Sites. While I already have a fairly good understanding of site performance, having completed a fairly extensive performance analysis of tvnz.co.nz a few years ago and being familiar with Yahoo!’s YSlow plug-in for Joe Hewitt’s Firebug plug-in for Firefox, it was good to get into a bit more detail.
But lately, I’ve come across a few sites that have made me cringe; a colleague pointed out a couple of Swiss ones: migros.ch, and gate24.ch, and I came across the new upandgo.co.nz site on newsites.co.nz.
Let’s look at some stats, with vodafone.co.nz (my old gig) thrown into the mix:
|Site||YSlow score||HTTP requests
(kB, unprimed cache)
(kB, primed cache)
The first three sites are ASPX sites, with bloated, invalid, (W3C) table-based markup, and what appears to be no performance tuning whatsoever. Sure, they are visually heavier than vodafone.co.nz, but being visually heavier doesn’t necessarily equate to looking better, and more often the end-user benefits of the visual components are offset by the performance overhead they introduce.
So, if you’re a web developer and you don’t use, or know of, Firebug and YSlow, stop what you’re doing right now and get familiar with them. Chris Pederick’s Web Developer toolbar for Firefox is also invaluable.
Learn about ETags, far future Expires headers, gzip, script placement, semantic markup, reducing the number of HTTP requests.
These are all vital factors in presenting a great website.
Figure out what you can do to make your site lighter, faster, and more search engine-friendly.