E-Marketing in Minneapolis David Vinge, eMarketing Dashboard : Best Practices For Faster Web Sites

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best Practices For Faster Web Sites

Before the Web I produced TV commercials. We would sometimes spend all night in the edit suite perfecting the sound mix. But we were not done until we tested the sound on a old TV set speaker. If it wasn't acceptable we would start over. We recognized that not all of our customers had the latest TV gear. We followed the principals of "user-centered-design."

I've produced Web sites for 15 years. In the "old days" it was routine to test new Web pages on a dial-up connection. Today few developers have access to dial-up for testing. Yes you can load test and calculate the time to render a page on different connections but you'll miss the look in the developers eyes while he stares at the screen waiting for a page to render. It's a good way to ensure that developers experience their work from the customers point-of-view, all customers.

So the next time you're told by a developer, "oh it doesn't matter, everyone has broadband" take away their broadband for a week and make then read this book while waiting for their pages to load.

Steve Souders, Web performance evangelist at Google and former Chief Performance Yahoo!, has just published a followup to his bestselling book, High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers.

In Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers, Souders and eight expert contributors provide "best practices and pragmatic advice for improving your site's performance in three critical categories: JavaScript-Get advice for understanding Ajax performance, writing efficient JavaScript, creating responsive applications, loading scripts without blocking other components, and more. Network-Learn to share resources across multiple domains, reduce image size without loss of quality, and use chunked encoding to render pages faster. Browser-Discover alternatives to iframes, how to simplify CSS selectors, and other techniques."

In addition, Google has started a "Let's make the Web faster" initiative. See their tutorials on the many ways to make Web sites run faster. They present performance best practices that the better Web professionals use routinely to improve the user experience for millions of users.

Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and experience at Google recently revealed that Google's research team, experimented by adding artificial delays to their search results to see their effect on users. "They found that even a 400-ms delay would make the users conduct fewer searches by 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent." This of course could cost Google hundreds of millions of dollars. So what would a three second improvement in your page load time achieve? 5% more page views - 5% more revenue?

Not sure if your Web site was built to be accessible by all your customers? Are you building a new Web site and want to be sure that the business requirements include best practices for the best user experience? Contact me, I can help.

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