Six Steps to Produce Faster Websites

August 13, 2014

If you believe the marketing hype surrounding website acceleration and performance, there is some seriously secret sauce involved in websites and the transmission of the pages from your origin servers to your users browser.

However, the rendering of a website in a users browser can be thought of as a relatively simple process;

First, transfer files over the internet:

Use a program (the website application) hosted on a computer server in a central location to produce the files needed for the webpage, and send them via the Internet to the user”s web browser. Call on other computer servers hosted in third-party locations (like Facebook and Google) to send any other required files to the user”s browser.

Then the website is built:

The web browser then consumes those files and constructs a webpage based on the instructions and content contained in the files.

The six steps to speed up a website

So if we are going to speed up webpage rendering, we should speed up the file transfer process and then how the webpage is built. What options do we have?

  1. Send less data

    • Reduce the size of the files sent
    • Reduce the number of files sent
  2. Send over a shorter distance

    • Reduce the distance the files must travel between the central servers and the user”s browser
  3. Send files earlier

    • Reduce the time the web browser has to wait to receive files it needs
  4. Send over faster routes

    • Reduce the time it takes for the files to traverse the internet
  5. Produce files faster

    • Reduce the time it takes for the web application to produce the files
  6. Improve “usability” at the browser

    • Reduce the time it takes the browser to read, interpret and use the files

There are some added complexities to consider in this process. For example, all the files needed to build the website will not always come from one location. Things like images, movies and other material will often come from a variety of third-party contributors like Google or Facebook, in addition to the original web servers. “However, even for these third party files, the options we have to improve the performance of a website are the same as described above, regardless of the source.

Cutting through the hype

Over the next few blog posts we will cut through the marketing hype and pull apart these methods to understand what they mean and discuss the best ways to implement them. I don”t for a minute claim that it is easy for any website owner to effectively tackle all of the above areas in the search for an improved customer experience, but I do think they can be tackled without covering them in layers of marketing speak.

If you know of any other areas which I have not touched on above, please let me know and I will build them into my discussions over the coming weeks.