June 2010 Newsletter

Speed, Speed, Speed and more Speed

**** The 4specs Perspective

Website speed is vitally important. Website performance may be critical to encouraging a user to visit an additional page on your website. Google is now using website speed as one criteria in your ranking.

You may remember this graph used in the March newsletter about 4specs' performance.:


In November 2009 the 4specs page load times were in the 4 second range. By February, I had made changes to get the page load times down around 1.8 seconds. Continuing my research, I was able to cut the page load times to 1.2 seconds. Remember, these times include many pages with 20-30 or more advertisers and their images plus our own 4specs images and icons.


Over the next few months I will explore what I learned and how you can apply this to your website. Some of my future recommendations will be simple, some more difficult, some may require a change in your hosting program or company. This month's suggestions are all relatively simple. It is vital to document your current website status to see where you started so you know what you have achieved with the changes.

The first step, if you have not already done it, it to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools to start to collect data.

[2/2013 - Speed is now part of the Google Analytics reports]

The next step is to measure current information for your home page and a typical internal page using WebPageTest

After entering your url into the WebPageTest site and letting the page process, click on the Waterfall image and then the Optimization Checklist link and print out the first 2 or 3 pages from each. These pages will give you a performance base before you start and indicate some of the tasks you will want to explore more.

Here is a sample results from a 4specs page with 27 advertiser images.
PDF - opens in new window

Here are results from two website showing problems you may encounter with your site. These pdf's show problems on websites that may be similar to your problems:

Sample Page showing problems - PDF, opens in new window, this is 3 pdf is pages long so scroll down to see the information. The major problems here are the large number of images to download, 2 at a time, and the long time it takes to download the flash image.

Sample Page - Optimization Checklist - PDF, opens in new window. The major problems here are the large number of images to be downloaded and the images that could be compressed further. The recommendation to use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) has a better solution than recommended here. This is the solution I found in March that significantly decreased the load times on the 4specs pages.

Questions and comments are always appreciated.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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