Web Performance Optimization (WPO)

Yesterday I held a talk at the Webmontag in Frankfurt about web performance optimization. According to the prophecy WPO will become an industry like SEO in the near future. Tenni Theurer and Steve Souders began to examine the performance of websites at Yahoo! in 2003, I learned about it in 2006 from Nate Koechley and subsequently blogged about it. In the meantime Souders published two books about the topic and works today at Google.

The goal of web performance optimization is to become faster and smaller: research at Yahoo! and Google found that just 10-20% of the perceived loading time is caused by the server. A few years ago we thought performance was exclusively connected to the server. However, 80-90% of the loading time incurs in the frontend. Thus WPO is more efficient targeting the frontend.

Two important weak points are JavaScript files and the sheer number of files: JavaScript loads sequentially and blocks subsequent code until each file is loaded. Hence it shouldn’t be located in the head, but in the foot of a page. Secondly older browsers, in particular Internet Explorer, will only load 2-4 files in parallel. Files queue up and get processed when it’s their turn. Therefore aggregation of files is used for reducing the number of HTTP requests.

Several international companies have conducted research or just tracked the effects of optimization.

Effects of slowness

Effects of speed

As a cream topping Google recently announced to factor in the site speed as a parameter in web search ranking.

Eventually pages become faster, clients are happy, generate more revenue and page views, while power consumption and CO2 emissions decrease. Saved the world, again! And if you’d like to contribute, start by checking the rules at Yahoo! A few tricks beyond that can be found in the presentation which will be translated soon.

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