Every Site Can Benefit from WSO

WSO is design and technology agnostic . Media-rich artistic sites or news-oriented information sites can all benefit from WSO. Standards compliant or not, low-tech or high, (X)HTML or XML, CSS or XSLTthe same principles apply. Along the way, you will learn techniques that I learned only through ten years of web development and teaching developers how to create better sites at WebReference.com and JavaScript.com .

What About Broadband?

I know what you're thinking: "What about broadband? Won't more bandwidth make WSO irrelevant?" Nope.

Even users with fast connections can get frustrated. Just ask the users of a certain west coast publication who called with a classic complexity conundrum . They said that even their cable modem users were complaining about the speed of their pages.

Cable modems are typically capable of providing throughput of 1 to 6Mbps when the whole block isn't online at once. On our T1, the pages for their site took more than a minute to display. Even though high-speed users downloaded their 100K HTML pages in a matter of seconds, page complexity and the sheer number of objects slowed rendering to a crawl.

Bandwidth Trends

Despite the best efforts of broadband providers, last-mile bandwidth is increasing more slowly than some have predicted . According to Nielsen//NetRatings, as of September of 2002, 71.9 percent of home users connect to the Internet at 56K or less (see Figure I.1). Broadband use has steadily increased from 5.4 percent in October of 1999 to 28.1 percent in September of 2002. At this growth rate, broadband use in the United States will exceed 50 percent by late 2004.

Figure I.1. Web connection speed trendsU.S. home users.

Site Speed Trends

Although bandwidth is increasing, most users access the Internet at 56Kbps or less. As you will learn in Part I, "The Psychology of Performance," user satisfaction is directly related to snappy response times and feedback. Although B2B sites have gotten the message, [2] consumer sites are actually becoming slower.

[2] Patrick Mills and Chris Loosley, "A Performance Analysis of 40 e-Business Web Sites," CMG Journal of Computer Resource Management , no. 102 (2001): 2833. From Oct. 1997 to Jan. 2001, B2B sites cut their average response times from 12 to 2.6 seconds.

According to Keynote Systems, the average download time for 56K modems of the top 40 consumer sites increased from 19.5 seconds in August of 2001 to 21.4 seconds in September of 2002 (see Figure I.2). Without feedback (and even with feedback), this is well over the attention threshold of most users.

Figure I.2. Download times of Keynote Consumer 40 for 56K modems.

Although our computers are getting faster, the speed of our connections can't keep up. With Moore's law leading Metcalf's, CPU processing power is increasing faster than bandwidth. [3]

[3] Jakob Nielsen, "Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth," in Alertbox [online], (April 5, 1998 [cited 11 November 2002]), available from the Internet at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980405.html.


Speed Up Your Site[c] Web Site Optimization
Speed Up Your Site[c] Web Site Optimization
ISBN: 596515081
Year: 2005
Pages: 135

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