Setting up and maintaining a fast web site can be a hotly debated issue: should preference be given to in-house development, and where will it fit in an already busy development schedule?
The four web performance pitfalls you should avoid
1. Treating web performance as a “one-off” task
“In my previous role as CTO for RueDuCommerce.com, we worked continuously on making the site as fast as possible. But more often than not, we would be putting the finishing touches on “operation commando” only to find that 6 months later, we’d have to start all over again.”, Stéphane RIOS, Fasterize founder. Your web site is rapidly evolving and each time a new service (or set of services) is incorporated into it, this is liable to have an impact on performance.
2. Making do with HTTP/2
If header compression is a good practice for webperf, Webperf experts are more skeptical about other features. The server push feature is probably the most disappointing optimization. In fact, it's hard to implement, and the good manners of using it remain under discussion. In addition, server push is not yet supported by technologies widely used by websites, such as Nginx.
3. Thinking that slowdowns aren’t such an issueGoogle’s latest survey is conclusive: 75% of those surveyed said that loading speed was their most important criterion.
4. Failing to automate
- Concatenating and deploying a small number of files by hand is easy to do. Setting up a system to concatenate the CSS definitions for all of your custom CMS templates as required by a particular page is not so straightforward.
- Minifying a file can be performed easily via the command line. Doing so manually every time a new file is released is something of a chore.
- Asking your web designer or front-end developer to improve the compression of a single image is no big deal. Setting up the system needed to compress images automatically prior to deployment is less straightforward.
So in the end, what is the most efficient way to deal with web performance?Web performance requires a dedicated team of experts to manage it efficiently as an end-to-end process. Indeed, companies such as Cdiscount, Leroy Merlin and La Redoute have already recruited such a team.
Not everybody is in a position to recruit an entire web performance team. But that is no reason to have to make do with a low-performance web site.
In such cases, it is possible to combine your in-house teams’ own development work with the work of performance automation tools (cloud-hosted or otherwise). Developers are then free to focus on those tasks for which they can add most value, while letting the webperf automation tool handle the rest.
Your in-house development should in no way compete with the use of a third-party solution. Instead, the two should work hand in hand.
Well-defined rolesYour in-house teams are able to view things from a high-level perspective, allowing them to focus on activities such as:
- … Setting a prioritised load order for the different elements on your web page.
For example, the Guardian web site displays articles first, followed by comments, advertisements and related articles:
- … developing cacheable web pages
Development teams can focus on identifying the dynamic parts of your web pages and refactoring these with AJAX calls. Pages will then be cacheable within a CDN.
- … putting appropriate monitoring tools in place
Choosing the right tools is key: such tools must not be limited to measuring server-side performance but must be capable of evaluating performance from a “user experience” perspective.
This gives CTOs faster, easier access to the latest advances in web performance technology, providing a real competitive edge for your business.
For CTOs, the benefits of having an automated tool handle this part of the work include:
- … guaranteed cutting edge performance for the web site in question
… ongoing support from a team of experts in the field
… valuable time savings with rapid deployment and automatic optimisations
… costs kept under control with a choice of fixed-price options
… no work required to maintain and implement optimisations
… in-house developers freed up to focus on other projects.
The combined expertise of your in-house developers and that of our web performance solution architects gives you the best of both worlds, bringing cutting edge performance to your users.
In no way—and contrary to popular belief—are these solutions designed to compete with in-house development teams. They are there simply to support your teams and provide them with the tools they need to achieve maximum performance.
What Célio have to say about our solutionJulien Debray
« During the setup phase, we truly worked in full collaboration with Fasterize, and David (Fasterize CTO) produced a custom configuration for our web site. »
« To give just one example, Fasterize was planning to implement a cookie-based context-sensitive cache. To help us build some advanced functionality into the web site, Fasterize moved this feature up the roadmap and we worked closely with Fasterize R&D teams to get it deployed on schedule. Elsewhere we use some of the extra-advanced features of our CDN to meet specific needs. We received across-the-board support from Fasterize on these projects. And so there was a real sense of team spirit. »