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Yottaa Expert Eval – Web Performance Review

JaneGoodall.orgEach Friday Yottaa CTO Bob Buffone digs into the data and evaluates the web performance of a new website.  Recommend a site for next week’s Expert Eval in the comments below or @Yottaa on Twitter! #ExpertEval

Each week I examine a website that exhibits performance challenges.  Some of these issues will be of the YSlow variety — less request, more compression, etc.  This week we took a look a Drupal site, the Jane Goodall Institute’s  The site has three issues that bear discussion.


1. Compression

The website does not use compression for test files like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.  Looking at the waterfall chart (via Yottaa) for the site, you’ll notice the homepage is compressed with gzip–you can tell because the response header Content-Encoding equals gzip.  However, as is shown in the screenshot below, none of the other assets on the homepage, nor other HTML files, are gzipped.  This reveals a missed opportunity for better performance on the homepage.

2. Data URIs

This website, like many others today, has a number of assets that could be encoded as data URIs.  Data URIs are a great way to “inline” small files (ones that are only a handful of KB’s each) so that they are fetched by a single HTTP request.

If you were to sort the waterfall for by “asset size,” (as I have below) you’d see that there are 20 assets less than 5KB in size.  This group of assets represents another example of missed opportunity for performance improvement: each of them requires its own round trip, whereas they could become a single request by using a data URI.

3. Secondary Pages

Load times for secondary pages on are much slower than the load time for the home page. Compare, for example, the Home page and Donation page.  Looking at the data you can see:

  • Overall load time: homepage (5.13) vs donation page (11.34)
  • Reachability: homepage (1.09) vs donation page (2.92)
  • Page size: homepage (1.1KB) vs donation page (1.7KB)

Most developers optimize homepages, but secondary and tertiary pages must be optimized as well in order to achieve a truly well-performing site. The Jane Goodall Institute depends on donations to keep up the great work they are doing, so having a slow donation page could potentially cut down on the site’s conversion rate, even if its homepage loads pretty quickly.

This is a perfect example of the challenges brought on by sites that are manually optimized: each page must be optimized separately, by hand. Even though the Jane Goodall site is built by Trellon, it still requires each page to be optimized differently. This a difficult problem for the creators of the site.  The Goodall Institute chose to use a CMS to make managing their website easier, but now need to optimize each page differently.  In order to fix the problem they will need to dig into the template or CMS internals and figure out where to optimize each specific page.

If you have a site that you’d like me to examine, add a comment or tweet the name of the site to @yottaa.  Yottaa: Optimize. Protect. Monitor.

Bob (Buffone)


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