Say you have a website that is loading slowly, regardless of what browser you are using.  Step one is review the website’s waterfall diagram.

Steve Sounders has written a number of articles and a book on performance tuning websites.  He analyzed the top 10 U.S. websites, in terms of traffic, and found that 20% of response time is the server sending the data to the client.   The remaining 80% is spent dealing with the front-end, i.e. what was sent by the server.  So, start there.  There are big opportunities for improvement.

I recently worked with a marketing firm that used a parallax design for what should have been a small website.  But, they included a Google map with 34 markers.    The waterfall diagram shows a whopping 266 http request for loading the website, most are for googleapis.com.  The map has no zoom or street view capabilities.  A static map would have sufficed.

The waterfall diagram is crucial in figuring out where your website can be streamlined for speed.  A couple of things to consider:

  1. Reduce the number of http requests.
  2. Use asynchronous scripts.
  3. Optimize your htaccess file to reduce disk reads.
  4. Use a CDN, content delivery network.
  5. Minify and gzip JavaScript.
  6. Put style sheets at the top and scripts at the bottom.
  7. Optimize images and sprite images wherever feasible.

Simple changes can give big results.

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