Web performance optimization

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Web performance optimizationWPO, or website optimization is the field of knowledge about increasing the speed in which web pagesare downloaded and displayed on the user's web browser. Although attempts to improve download and display speeds have existed since theWorld Wide Web was invented in 1993, the field was not standardized, or given a name, until 2004, when web-performance expert Steve Souders began to describe it as "web performance optimization".[1]

Faster website download speeds have been shown to increase visitor retention and loyalty[2][3] and user satisfaction,[4] especially for users with slow internet connections and those on mobile devices.[5] Web performance also leads to less data traveling across the web,[6] which in turn lowers a website's power consumption and environmental impact.[1]



In the first decade or so of the web's existence, web performance improvement was focused mainly on optimizing website code and pushing hardware limitations. According to the 2002 book Web Performance Tuning by Patrick Killelea, some of the early techniques used were to use simple servlets or CGI, increase server memory, and look for packet loss and retransmission.[7] Although these principles now comprise much of the optimized foundation of internet applications, they differ from current optimization theory in that there was much less of an attempt to improve the browser display speed.

Steve Souders coined the term "web performance optimzation" in 2004.[1] At that time Souders made several predictions regarding the impact that WPO as an "emerging industry" would bring to the web, such as websites being fast by default, consolidation, web standards for performance, environmental impacts of optimization, and speed as a differentiator.[1]

One major point that Souders made is that at least 80% of the time that it takes to download and view a website is controlled by the front-end structure. This lag time can be decreased through awareness of typical browser behavior, as well as of how HTTP works.[8]

Best practices

There are a number of guidelines that web developers can adhere to in order to optimize web performance. Some sets of guidelines include:

  • Steve Souders, who is considered by many to be the pioneer of the field,[9] mentions 28 steps for optimizing web performance, from greatest gains to smallest, in his two books on the subject, High Performance Websites and Even Faster Websites.
  • Yahoo! has a list of 35 best practices divided into 7 categories.[10]
  • In 2009 Google launched a developers initiative to provide web developers with tools and best practices for making the web faster. There is a section solely devoted to articles about WPO.
  • The site WebPlatform also includes such a list.[11]

Software meant to improve or analyze web performance

  • Yottaa Site Optimizer[12]
  • YSlow[13]
  • Google PageSpeed (a browser plugin[14] and a service[15])
  • HTML5 Boilerplate[16]


  1. a b c d Souders, Steve. "Web Performance Optimization". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Google Adds Site Speed To Search Ranking". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. ^ Sharon, Bell. "WPO | Preparing for Cyber Monday Traffic"CDNetworks. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Webmaster Guidelines". Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  5. ^ Souders, Steve. "Web First for Mobile". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  6. ^ Bellonch, Albert. "Web performance optimization for everyone". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  7. ^ Killelea, Patrick (2002). Web Performance Tuning. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media. pp. 480. ISBN 059600172X.
  8. ^ Souders, Steve (2007). High Performance Websites. Farnham: O'Reilly Media. pp. 170. ISBN 0596529309.
  9. ^ "Steve Souders Bio". Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Yahoo! WPO Tips". Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Best practices for building faster Web apps with HTML5".
  12. ^ Yottaa Site Optimizer
  13. ^ YSlow
  14. ^ "Google PageSpeed Insights Announcement". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  15. ^ Google PageSpeed service
  16. ^ HTML5 Boilerplate homepage


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