Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Slowing down

Thanks to Ghostery, you can see a list of the top ten culprits for website loading lag time and slow Internet browsing. These "lagtags" include widgets and analytics programs, typically add-ons webmasters are paying to have run on their sites.

Here's the list with the average number of milliseconds these products will add to your website.
Avalanchers: 3912.721751 ms
Adfunky: 2600.142857 ms
2leep: 2305.563533 ms
ShareASale: 2090.703573 ms
Brand Affinity: 1917.470961 ms
Adfusion: 1908.145773 ms
Wahoha: 1853.056856 ms
GoDaddy Site Analytics: 1793.0625 ms
Redux Media: 1663.106572 ms
Kitara Media: 1578.838889 ms

And apparently if you included all these on one webpage, it would take an extra 22 seconds just to load. (An eternity to the average user.) The coolest website in the world isn't going to get any traffic if it takes 22 seconds to load; a slow load time also adversely affects Google rankings, so a regardless of its interesting content, a slow site may be so far down the results list that no one even knows it exists.

Here's an interesting article about user perceptions and the way people form impressions of the websites they visit. Jakob Neilson says that "that new pages must display within 1 second for users to feel like they're navigating freely; any slower and they feel held back by the computer and don't click as readily... After 1 second, users get impatient and notice that they're waiting for a slow computer to respond. The longer the wait, the more this impatience grows; after about 10 seconds, the average attention span is maxed out." Honestly, I think that's being pretty generous (the article was written in 2009). I rarely stay on a webpage for ten seconds waiting for it to load. If it's been even half that time I have probably already given up and either tried to refresh the page or abandoned it entirely. It's definitely a reminder to me to be mindful of the "extras" I put into my webpages--images and videos are probably culprits just as often as adsense and analytics--and to be wary of soul-crushingly slow load times.

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