Last week I blogged about the 6 Steps to identify the major web site performance problems on sites like masters.com. Unfortunately for me I did the analysis 3 days before they re-launched their website. The site looks really nice now – great job.
They fixed some of the problems I highlighted in the blog and also follow more of the best practices outlined by Google and Yahoo. In order to give them credit for the work they put in I ran another analysis on the new site. It should be interesting for everybody to see what they have changed, what they haven’t changed, what new problems they introduced and how this all impacts the web site performance to the end user.
Merging files to speed up resource loading?
First of all it is a bit hard to compare two individual pages because the web site changed in terms of its structure. The first page on the old site showed different content than on the new site. Overall there are however definitely fewer images. There are even more options to bring this number down by using CSS Sprites.
The big problem I see here – even though they managed to avoid many roundtrips – is that every user must download ~300kb of HTML for every page request. In times of high-speed internet this might not seem like a problem but a) not everybody has this kind of internet speed and b) their servers are pounded with additional load and network bandwidth to the servers might become a problem with increasing load.
Expensive and too many redirects
I often enter web site Url’s without the www in the beginning, e.g.: masters.com instead of www.masters.com. Websites usually redirect me to the correct page and I save 3 letters to type :-). Redirects like this are additional network roundtrips which we basically want to avoid in order to speed up the site. Looking at the network activity I can not only see that the initial redirect takes a very long time (4s in my case), it redirects me to another redirect adding another 570ms before I finally end up on the index.html page. The following image shows the 3 network requests when entering the URL without the www domain prefix:
What exactly does the network activity tell us in this case?
- Initial request takes 4.2 seconds (including DNS lookup, Connect- and Server-Time) and redirects me to www.masters.com. The fact that I am in Europe right now probably contributes a bit to the 4.2 seconds as I assume that the web-server sits somewhere in the US.
- The 2nd request to www.masters.com redirects me to www.masters.com/index.html and takes 570ms in total. This redirect could really be avoided by redirecting me to that page in the first place
For some further reading check out Step 3: Can we speed up downloading all these resources? in my first blog.
IE7 bug causes wrong browser detection and fallback to IE6
When I analyze a web site I always start by looking at the Summary View for my recorded session. I saw something that made me curious: