July 2019 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

Are You Already Behind?

Envision walking up to the starting line of a 100 yard race

Starting Line

and your starting blocks are five feet behind the rest. Would you demand your blocks be moved up even with the rest?

If your web page takes more than the minimum time to respond and serve the first byte, you are already behind. Here is the webpagetest.org results for a 4specs page with 19 advertisers and related images:

4specs First Byte

The first byte is served in 0.141 seconds. 0.300 seconds first byte is considered excellent. A total load time under 2 seconds is considered excellent by Google.

Here is a company listed in 4specs with 20x slower first byte and total load time. Envision starting 30 yards behind on a 100 yard race:

First Byte

And another company's results:

First Byte

The first byte time is primarily influenced by 3 factors other than general network response times:

1. Load on the server - can be difficult to determine at most hosts before setting up the account. The first byte time on a simple page is a good gauge once you have the account set up and before moving your website to a new host.

2. Type of "hard disk" - solid state hard disks are fast and rotating hard disks can be the cause of slow response, especially if there is a lot of disk activity on the server.

3. Use of a content management system - that requires accessing a database to serve the page. There are caching systems for Wordpress and other CMS systems, To improve performance check out WP Super Cache or other systems. As few manufacturer websites are updated even monthly, set the cache time as long as possible - perhaps a week or more.

4specs is managed using Dreamweaver in flat html - i.e. no content management system with related php look ups. 4specs is hosted on a shared server at a cost of $30 per month with a very low server load and an ssd hard disk. 4specs uses less than 1% of the allocated monthly bandwidth and disk space on the account. Wordpress servers at the same host are $50 per month and are optimized for serving Wordpress sites and have an ssd. This account should be sufficient for all but the most complex manufacturer websites.

First byte time is easy to measure for your website. Here is the primary tool I use to understand how a website responds. The first byte time is near the top of the webpagetest.org results.


Here are some recommendations to improve your server response:

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Questions and suggestions are always appreciated.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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