A few days ago foursquare experienced their first major downtime. Over October 5th and 6th they were down for a total of almost 17 hours. They also had some partial downtime when some services were up and others were down. They’ve been very open about the problems they experienced and the steps they’re going to take to prevent it from happening again. The cause of the downtime was one of their MongoDB servers running out of RAM. While foursquare’s blog post linked above covers the issue at a higher level, Eliot Horowitz of 10gen (MongoDB’s company) took the time to write a great, in-depth post about the technical issues at hand. Some of these problems were preventable and highlight some best practices everyone should implement.
Google’s recent announcement of Instant brought the first major innovation to their search offering in years. Besides minor design and layout tweaks, Google rarely makes major changes to the search UI. Google highlighted the advantages for consumers but didn’t discuss much about the impact on content creators. I see Instant having a major impact on the importance of SEO and an inverse impact on SEM.
This is part one in a series on boomerang. This article is an introduction to boomerang and covers the basics. Future articles will cover writing modules and analyzing the results.
Website monitoring tools have historically focused on uptime. The service provider’s server checks your website periodically to make sure it still works. If not, it sends an alert to let you know something is wrong. Most monitoring services also record your server’s response time which can be useful in watching for traffic surges and DDoS attacks. With client-side performance often being the biggest bottleneck on modern websites, you need additional tools to monitor from your user’s perspective. In steps boomerang, an open source client-side performance monitoring tool from Yahoo.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of attending Barcamp Rochester. Like most attendees I did a presentation, which as you may have guessed, focused on performance. The presentation, titled the same as this post, discussed quick and reasonably easy things everyone can do to improve their site’s speed performance.
Most of the items covered require minimal web development experience and can be done without touching server settings.
I realize the slides don’t provide much detail. This was a 10 minute presentation and I prefer to talk about details rather than put them on slides. I’m working on a series of extensive posts covering everything in these slides, and more, in detail.
Leave comments if there is there anything specific you’d like me to cover.
This is the first in an ongoing series of website performance reviews. I take a popular site, give it a performance shakedown, then report on what they’re doing well and what needs improvement.
The first site in this series is Smart Passive Income. This is Pat Flynn’s blog about running a web-based business focusing on passive income. He’s extremely transparent, posting exactly how and what he does along with monthly income reports. In his July report, Pat touched on how slow the site had gotten and how he’d started improving its performance. I’m keenly aware of how slow his site has been. I often read his articles at the gym using my iPhone 3G. While I’m used to the underwhelming browser speed on the 3G, SPI had gotten painfully slow. Some pages would take 15+ sec to load anything and would continue loading for minutes if I didn’t hit the stop button. His recent changes have improved this significantly but there’s still a lot that can be done. Let’s dig into it.
Everyone hates slow websites. With over 200 million websites just a few keystrokes away competition is extremely fierce. If your site is slow it’s very easy for your users to find another place to go. Often website owners don’t realize the impact this can have on their traffic or bottom line. They may not even realize the site is slow. If you don’t know where to start, performance optimization can seem intimidating. There’s a lot to learn, especially if you’re not a web developer.
This is where Razor Fast comes in. I’ll be publishing regular performance reports of popular websites. I’ll cover what their doing right and what needs improving. The reports will contain a detailed analysis of client-side performance with waterfall charts, header information, file compression details, and much more.
Does your site need a review? Do you know a popular site that is super fast or super slow? Leave a comment with URLs and ideas.
Much has been written about the basics of client-side (or browser) performance. Here are some resources from Google and Yahoo to get you started building faster websites and to improve your website’s speed.
Introduction and Basics
Google has been working on web performance for many years. This is their web speed hub, a collection of articles, tutorials, tools, and community discussion about web performance.
Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site
Yahoo’s extensive list of 35 best practices for making web pages fast.
Page Speed – Web Performance Best Practices
Google’s list of best practices broken down into types of optimization.