Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Larry Alton, Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Astadia CloudGPS

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Machine Learning

Agile Computing: Article

Secret Sauce for Successful Web Sites

Web performance optimization (WPO)

There are two secret sauces for making a web site successful: SEO and WPO. Ok, I guess everyone knows about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) now. SEO was a secret sauce 5-10 years ago. At that time, not everyone was aware of SEO. These who did SEO ended up being very successful. But have you heard of WPO? Are you doing WPO to your web site? Most people would answer "no". So WPO (Web Performance Optimization) remains as the one and only secret sauce.

What is Web Performance Optimization?

Do you hate slow web sites? Have you ever abandoned your online activity because the web site you were on was too slow? Is your web site slow or fast? Have many users abandoned your site because of slow experience?

This is where WPO comes in. WPO, short for Web Performance Optimization, is about delivering an instantaneous experience to your web visitors. In other words, WPO is about making your web site faster. In order to deliver a fast experience, you need means to measure and analyze your current experience. Beyond the technique means, you also need to have the process and methodology. In summary, WPO refers to the process, methodology and techniques to measure, benchmark and improve web performance.

Why Web Performance Optimization?

There are three key value propositions of WPO:

  1. WPO drives more traffic to your web site: If everything else is the same, a faster web site will definitely get better user acceptance and is far more likely to generate more inbound links. Users are more likely to come back. Very importantly, Google recently announced to factor in the site speed as a parameter in web search ranking. So improving web performance will result in improved search engine ranking.
  2. WPO increases your revenue by keeping users stay longer on your site or doing more with your site: Slow loading pages tend to have a high bounce rate because users lose patience waiting. Nowadays the average expected page load time for e-commerce web sites is about 2 to 3 seconds. Anything beyond that will be considered "slow" and lose users. Improved web site performance makes the user more productive, which means the user would be able to conduct more transactions on a faster site than slower ones. Further, a faster site creates a more pleasant user experience, which causes the user to enjoy a longer stay.
  3. WPO reduces operation costs: WPO employs techniques to reduce the number of requests hitting on a web site and the amount of bandwidth consumed as means to improve the performance of a web site. Reducing the number of hits on a web site can lower the server side CPU usage and improve site scalability. Reducing bandwidth consumption improves site scalability as well as reduces bandwidth costs. The typical operation savings from WPO range from 10% to 60%, a significant number for a wide range of web sites.

The growing importance of web performance has been well noticed. Open standards have been proposed to facilitate WPO, such as Web Timing Measurements and SPDY. Leading browsers have started to incorporate these standards. Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is the first browser to implement the W3C Web Timing API. Part of the reason for Google to implement Google Chrome is to provide a fast browser for a faster web. Going forward, we expect WPO grow into its own industry similar to what SEO is today.

Real World Cases for WPO

The impact of web performance on business success has been demonstrated many times in the real world.

One of the best examples is Google. When Google was started, the search engine market was owned by bigger players. However, Google understood WPO and has been obsessed with delivering the fastest performance. This secret sauce played its magic. In a few years, Google became the search engine that everyone goes to. Today, Google continues to push for faster web performance. With the recent release of Google Instant, the bar has been raised again: The Internet shouldn't be just fast, it needs to be instantaneous.

Beyond Google, there are lots of additional cases showing the effect of web performance. The following is a list of examples published by Steve Souders, a web performance expert at Google:

  • Amazon: 100 ms delay caused a 1% drop in revenue.
  • Google: 400 ms delay caused a 0.59% decrease in search requests per user (earlier tests list larger numbers).
  • Yahoo!: 400 ms delay caused a 5-9% decrease in traffic.
  • Bing: 2 seconds delay caused a 4.3% drop in revenue per user.
  • Mozilla made their download page 2.2 seconds faster and was rewarded with an increase of 15.4% in downloads.
  • Google Maps reduced the file volume by 30% and observed a 30% increase in map requests.
  • Netflix enabled gzip on the server; simply by this single action pages became 13-25% faster and saved 50% of traffic volume!
  • Shopzilla succeeded in reducing the loading time from 7 down to 2 seconds, whereby the conversion rate increased by 7-12%, they observed a 25% increase in page requests, they were able to retire 50% of their servers, thus saving energy costs.
  • AOL observed the number of page views on several websites. While the fastest users requested 7-8 pages, the slowest only viewed 3-4.

Another interesting example is the story between Tumblr and Posterous. See Web Performance Impact: Tumblr Leaves Competition in Dust".

WPO How-to

In terms of how to optimize web performance, obviously the first thing comes to mind is optimization. There are hundreds of techniques one can employ to optimize a web site's performance. Below lists some commonly used techniques:

• data center techniques: load Balancing with multiple web servers, geographic load balancing with multiple Data Centers, DNS acceleration, ADC (application delivery controller, almost every networking company provides this or something similar), connection pooling,

• server side techniques: compression, content caching using Squid/Varnesh/hardware, configuring web server to use HTTP 1.1, optimizing database and business logic...

• Techniques related to network and protocols: CDN (content delivery network), pre- fetching, leveraging HTTP protocol features such as If_Modified_Since/Expires/etag, using alternative protocols such as RTMP/SPDY/UDP...

• Techniques related to the client side: image optimization, JavaScript concatenation and obfuscation, CSS optimization, spriting, page layout optimization, browser caching, browser connection pooling, domain sharding, leveraging user agent specific features such as dataURI,...

Given the vast array of techniques one can employ, the question becomes which knob a web site owner should turn? How does one know whether the knob got turned is working out? These questions bring out the three other components of WPO besides optimization:

  1. Assessment:
    First, you need ways to assess your current performance. Are you fast? Are you slow? Web performance is influenced by a few hundred factors, ranging from data center concerns, network issues, protocol issues, browser performance, page design and content, JavaScript files and CSS, etc. Which factors should you look into? Yottaa provides a free online service at Yottaa web site to help web site owners answer these questions.
  2. Benchmarking:
    Beyond analyzing your own site, you should also compare your site to other sites. The other sites could be your competitors' sites, sites in your vertical segment, or the entire Internet. Are you faster or slower than these sites? Where does your site stand in ranking? Further, you should also compare the different versions of your own site. Between releases, are you making your site faster or slower?
  3. Monitoring:
    An intrinsic attribute of performance is that it is dynamic. It changes over time and over geography. So it is important to track your web site performance over time and from different geographies. Monitoring enables a web site owner to know the trending, understand variations/changes and get notified for problems as they occur. WPO is an ongoing, continuous process. Monitoring is an essential step to make sure you are on top of things.

In summary, I recommend web development teams follow four steps for WPO: assess, benchmark, monitor and optimize. How do you figure all these out? At Yottaa, we built our product specifically for this purpose: to help web site owners assess, benchmark, monitor and optimize their web performance. Available at www.yottaa.com as free online services, I encourage readers give it a try and would love to hear your feedback.

Conclusion

I will leave the readers with two sentences as my closing remarks:

1. Speed is the differentiator;

2. Performance is an opportunity.

More Stories By Coach Wei

Coach Wei is founder and CEO of Yottaa, a web performance optimization company. He is also founder and Chairman of Nexaweb, an enterprise application modernization software company. Coding, running, magic, robot, big data, speed...are among his favorite list of things (not necessarily in that order. His coding capability is really at PowerPoint level right now). Caffeine, doing something entrepreneurial and getting out of sleeping are three reasons that he gets up in the morning and gets really excited.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Elon Musk is among the notable industry figures who worries about the power of AI to destroy rather than help society. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, embraces all that is going on. AI is most powerful when deployed across the vast networks being built for Internets of Things in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, healthcare, government and other sectors. Is AI transforming IoT for the good or the bad? Do we need to worry about its potential destructive power? Or will we...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...