Performance-101: www.liveads.co.za

At bidorbuy we have worked very hard to optimise website-performance to achieve a relatively good user-experience. We believe that with good performance comes lots of link-love from Google and sofar we have seen this pay off.

I am always interested in looking out for possible competition, and just noticed today, that Vodacom launched a half-baked classifieds website over at Liveads.co.za. I used to consult for Vodacom in the past and found it rather embarrassing as the website looks like the Wayback Machine came and visited.

It does take a lot to put a website together and score an “F” like Juju:

More so, it takes a lot of disregard and effort to make it to all “F”s, but it is not just the look and feel, but also the performance characteristics of the site:

  • It takes 18 seconds to download the homepage which only starts rendering after 11 seconds. On a primed cache it still takes 14 seconds for the page to load which only starts rendering after 8 seconds. This is already bad as Google deems any site rendering above 3,5 seconds as slow.
  • Your momma is so fat: I hope not, but the home-page is. Weighing in at a proud 604KB. Even with a primed cache all 30 images displayed are uncached and result in 159KB of data every time. (Perhaps a clever ploy to get extra money from 3G subscribers?)
  • Not sure how LiveAds managed to do it, but even a primed cache results in a dreadful long load time — not to worry, overpaid consultants at Vodies, I provide you a solution for free in the bullets below.
  • Turn on compression: This is in the webmasters for dummy, takes about 2 minutes to configure and provides sensational results.
  • Cache control: How on earth did you manage to de-configure your server that none of your 63 resources referenced on your homepage has any expiry, last-modified or cache-control settings?
  • Javascript kiddies at work: 14 Javascript files referenced, inline jQuery code and some weird Google-tracking code. Minify your JS, include only what is necessary and Google Async Tracking is your friend.
  • Deferred loading: All those pretty 14 Javscript files also block all other resources from loading. This costs you over 8-10 seconds as the browser is not able to render the remainder of the page. Combine those 14 JS into one file and place it at the bottom of the body or defer loading altogether.
  • ETags: Don’t use ETags with a default install of your webserver. ETags consist of the inode which is a unique file-descriptor and this will result in your ETag always to be different in a load-balanced environment. Use proper expiry/last-modified rules and cache-controls instead.
  • Amazon cloud: So you use Amazon CDN for image storage and even managed to get no expiry/cache-control on those – how did you make this happen?
  • Sloppy site images: Your Grid-images are cute, but if you had applied proper JPEG compression, you would have reduced both images from 80KB per image down to 20KB – quite a difference in load-time (considering that those are not even cached)
  • KeepAlive: Your web-server has none. Your sysadmin should know about persistent connections. You site will not scale and ever perform with basics lacking.
  • Local is Lekker: Yes, we live in a global village, but serving the site out of Egypt to your local users is just strange. Big data-center with own ISP-services and off-shore hosting? Vote of confidence right here. A DNS lookup exceeds 500ms (should be below 100ms) and it takes on avg 200ms to just establish a connection to those individual resources (14 Javascript * 200ms connect time = 2,8 seconds / download-time for a 42KB-resource = 1,4 seconds).
  • Redirects: Why oh why do you have to do a redirect from your home-page to “/en/home” – this is a client-side redirect and costs me another 500ms?

The above should be a lesson to any corporate on how to build websites. I fear that the very same people will also advise on SEO (you do realise that your site has absolutely no SEO value) and it will be interesting to see how long this site will be around. My Internet-death prediction: 2 months (but not without spending lots of more money to beat that dead horse).

To avoid repeats like this: YSlow, Google PageSpeed, Firebug and HTML Validator should be standards tools for any project and no website should go live without good ratings.

Try a visual comparison via which.loadsfaster.com

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