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Slow Website Performance and 3rd Party Widgets and Plugins

We all love (and dislike) third-party widgets, plugins and services like the Facebook “Like” button, the social sharing widget ShareThis, the LinkedIn button or the Disqus social commenting system.  These services add a level of engagement and socializing that is a requirement for almost any website today.

Many websites now have over five third-party services that have the potential to create a slow website and page load times for users.   Some of the most popular services include tools for: tracking (Google Analytics), trust marks (VeriSign), social engagement (ShareThis, Facebook Like, Disqus), communications (LivePerson), monetization (Google Analytics, BuySellAds). The list seems endless and websites without these plugins and widgets feel empty and do not meet the needs of both a site owner and the visitor.

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that the performance issues plaguing your website may have nothing to do your Web server, hosting provider, network, database calls etc.
Angry Person

The bad news is that many of these third-party widgets and components are not very well written and some have an over-stretched environment that is unable to handle the load coming at it from thousands or millions of websites. You are in a sense at their mercy. Luckily there are tools like
Yottaa Insight, our Web Performance Monitoring service that provide visibility into these third-party domain based services.  Yottaa Insight provides a wealth of data for each of these services including; DNS lookup, DOM interaction time and loading times from our monitoring points around the world.

All is not bad news through.  Some former slow website and performance problem culprits like Google Analytics and Google AdSense (updated last week) have solved this problem by offering an asynchronous version of their scripts.  While it’s admirable that Facebook, Google and a few others are doing their part to increase website acceleration, there are many more services that are not updating their plug-ins and widgets.

There are several  great blog posts on this topic, a recent post sticks out was written by Frederick Townses, the CTO of Mashable and founder of  In the post titled: Optimize the Performance of Widgets, Buttons & More he provides insight into several plugin implementations and their current status and issues.  This is a great post for anyone looking to understand how some of the most popular third-party widgets are implemented and evolving.

Other Great Resources On 3rd Party Plugins and Widgets:

Key Takeaways

The key takeaway for many readers should be an understanding of how important it is to have a program of continuous assessment and monitoring of Web performance – not just for the elements on the page that you and your team control – but also the third party tools.  It’s good practice to read the best practices installation documentation, update notes and blogs for these tools and stay up-to-date on the latest implementations.

It’s also a great idea to perform and assessment on each new widget and plugin that you consider implementing.  It’s also important that after its implementation, you continue to monitor its performance. Yottaa’s Web Performance Monitoring service includes a feature where you can set a performance alert and be notified of any significant changes in performance for 3rd party domain based services.

How often do you optimize your social plug-ins?  What is your favorite practice to increase
site speed, while still having the best user experience, sharing, reporting and monetization tools on your website?

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Image Source: gaelx on Flickr

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