One of the bigger problems I see in the performance space is that a lot of the value of current content management systems and blogging tools is the ability to add widgets or plugins from a lot of different places. These plugins often do not provide compressed and cacheable versions of their content.
In order to get more people to adopt the methods of creating faster web pages, we need to make it easier for them to do so while still a making it easy for them to adhere to performance guidelines. Basically, make it possible for them to eat cat and lose weight at the same time.
One solution that comes close to being my dream is a piece of software called Smart Optimizer. Smart Optimizer used to be called JSmart. It was a project that hadn’t had any updates since July 7, 2006 until two weeks ago when the project was revitalized and the name changed.
Smart Optimizer will:
- Set up rewrite rules to intercept any calls to css or js files
- Minify, gzip any css or js files
- Creates static files on the server for css and js that are gzipped and set for caching
- Concatenate css or js files into a single file
It’s an interesting tool that I don’t think a lot of people know of. Take a look.
“A new release of jQuery is out — 1.2.6, skipping directly from 1.2.3. Most noteworthy are the performance improvements.” via Ajaxian. Further details in the release notes.
Andrew King has a new post up highlighting recent research on how long people will wait for a page to load. Previously, the magic number was 10 seconds, but broadband has decreased our patience for slow sites.
A JupiterResearch survey found that 33% of broadband shoppers are unwilling to wait more than four seconds for a web page to load, whereas 43% of narrowband users will not wait more than six seconds (Akamai 2006).
Google found that moving from a 10-result page loading in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20% (Linden 2006).
Plus a very real impact on sales:
Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007).
WordPress 2.5 no longer provides an option to turn on gzip compression. According to Matt Freedman, the “option was axed for the reason that it’s better to enable compression on the server, rather than through WordPress.”
This is probably true because the option was turning on php compression instead of setting it in apache. However, it was still a surprise to realize my site was no longer being compressed.
To remedy the problem, I added the following to my .htaccess file in the root directory:
Header append Vary Accept-Encoding
This is the code for Apache 2.0 as suggested by Ryan Williams. Similar code for Apache 1.3 can be found.
The main point is the if you used to rely on WordPress 2.5’s gzip option, you’re going to need to find an alternate solution.
We need your help for a research project we’re conducting at Cloud Four. Read more about the research and how you can help by simply viewing a web page on your mobile phone.
One of the reasons for my interest in site performance is because these techniques become even more important when developing for mobile. Google published some recent evidence supporting this belief.
“We saw something similar after we launched an updated interface for Gmail on the iPhone during MacWorld earlier this year. Lots of iPhone users tried the new interface (hence the bump in Gmail pageviews between January and February), but they didn’t stick around like we hoped they would. Over the course of the next few weeks, we made some tweaks to drastically improve the speed of the product, and Gmail pageviews on the iPhone not only stabilized, but began to rise, as the graph below shows:”
Read more at Google’s blog.
One of the arguments I made in my presentation on site performance last year was that making small changes to your site to speed it up can make a big difference in your revenue. This was based on bandwidth savings.
However, now marketers using Google Adwords have an additional incentive to make their pages load quickly. Google is incorporating landing page load time as one of the factors for evaluating the quality ranking of an ad:
“Users value ads that bring them to the information they want as efficiently as possible. A high-quality landing page should load quickly as well as feature unique, relevant content. Fast load times benefit advertisers as well, since users are less likely to abandon a site that loads quickly.”
For companies that are spending thousands of dollars on text ads, ignoring their landing page load time could be spendy.
In case you missed, tests show that Safari on the iPhone will only cache objects that are under 25k. Something to keep in mind as you build your iPhone web apps.