I recently gave a talk at SMX Advanced in Seattle about how to make websites run faster. Various statistics cited by the presenters indicated just how important site speed is. Every second of latency cuts conversion (or sales) by 10 – 17 percent. Users typically head for the back button if a page doesn’t appear within 3 seconds. Fast sites give the user a feeling that they are in control, improving trust.
Most people think a bigger server, shorter HTML code, or smaller images is the secret to speed. That’s usually not the case, according to my experiments. The main cause of latency is distance between the server and the user, and the number of http requests required to assemble the page. Server and software configurations may also be important.
One secret to speed is using a smart content delivery network, such as Cloudflare, to reduce the distance information needs to travel, minimize requests, and optimize files sizes. Cloudflare caches static resources a numerouse locations around the world to serve users from a nearby data center. Another tactic is to simplify web page design to minimize the number of files called per page. CSS sprites can be a big help, as well as eliminating unnecessary objects. Careful design focuses attention on a few things that matter, and leaves out the cruft that is just a distraction and source of slowness.
My presentation below containes a bunch of case studies and identifies tools you can use to analyze and improve your site speed. Feel free to contact me with any questions. I’m @jehochman on Twitter.
Guest Post by Jonathan Hochman, CodeGuard co-founder and CEO of Hochman Consultants
Recently I found myself on a transcontinental flight with WiFi, and downloaded an email from a client stating that I had botched an edit to their website. Usually I can tell people to wait until I get back to the office if they need website edits, but this time I was anxious to make a quick repair. Unfortunately, I have been packing light, with just a backpack and iPad and no laptop.
My solution – I went to the App Store and found Gusto. It took about 10 minutes to download via Gogo Inflight Internet while cruising at 36,000 feet, however, if downloaded before they close the jet door, it’s much quicker. Gusto has a sleek HTML editor, and a Solid FTP/SFTP client. I connected to the server, downloaded the broken files, fixed them, uploaded, and was done with my simple edits in about three minutes.
Gusto’s features include code highlighting, preview, and preview in Safari. The user interface is also intuitive. The only drawback I found is that when renaming a file, I had to jump to a different directory and then back to get the new file name to display.
Gusto costs 9.95 and is well worth it. Lugging around a laptop is a drag. With Gusto, the iPad is a pretty good replacement device, and costs a lot less than a Mac Air. I love being able to edit web site code on airplanes, during meetings or at lunch.
By Steve Gibson on June 9th, 2011
“In this world of builders there are some that aspire to build a legacy of destruction. Their goal is to tear down the works of others. In an unfortunate anomaly of human nature it’s sometimes fun to take what someone else has built and smash it to pieces. I remember one teacher of mine who knew of a web server hole with a popular site. Right there in class he attempted to exploit it to demonstrate how easy it is to crash a website. Unfortunately for him the vulnerability was fixed by that point and he wasn’t able to instill the value of hacking to another generation of software developers.
But this isn’t always the case. Many are able to discover the arts of placing malware, viruses, Trojans, keyloggers, and any number of other nefarious pieces of code on computers around the world. On our local computers we’re great about scanning for viruses and running frequent backups. On our web servers, many of us are not. It’s for this reason that CodeGuard was built. It’s a total backup solution for websites.”
Read more: http://slapstart.com/2011/06/codeguard/