Slow Kills

Web builders need to add speed to their toolkit once again.

Back in the 1990s, when surfing the Web meant dial-up or worse, the assets that built up layouts had to be built lean.

Complex patterns and textures meant longer download times, forcing users to wait and grow impatient. Sure, your server might be at fault, but your user only sees your logo slowly rendering and blames you for it.

With the saturation of broadband in major rural areas of the United States, Americans have grown used to Internet as commonplace as gas stations along the roadside.

Designers and programmers have inflated their Web pages with large images, JavaScript libraries and plugins without realizing there is an often unseen cost to their efforts. People with slower or spotty Internet connections can’t use their Web sites.

Within this past month, Google has come out and said it: “Slow kills.”

For a company that will do almost anything to shave off a millisecond of response time (even experimenting with their own ultra broadband networks), it makes sense for Google to factor speed into search engine rankings.

In fact, speed has been a factor in their AdWords program since 2008.

What we need to do is re-learn what old techniques we’ve thrown away in recent years, but also how we can compress and optimize the scripts of our sites today.

Web 2.0 isn’t going to go away in a dot-com-bust. However we need to learn how to make it work smarter, not harder, for our users.

Note: I’m hosting the online Web Optimization Summit next week on May 12, 2010. If you can’t make the day of the conference, your ticket affords you the chance to watch the recordings recordings will be made available after the conference for you to review whenever you want.

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