Performance of social networking sites — Index from Keynote Systems for March 2013

By Robert Castley

In March, Keynote analysed the performance of eleven top social media networks, with an additional focus on some of the factors that could determine whether a site loads quickly and efficiently, or if there are any loading errors or delays. The analysis covered the time to load and availability – the chances of a site loading correctly when visited – as well as the size of the homepage and number of objects within the homepage.

The results provided an indication as to why certain sites consistently appear at the top of the leader board for reliability and speed. For example, Google+, which again took the top spot on load time and availability in March, was revealed to have the smallest page size at 0.06 MB, and the fewest number of objects to load – only 10. By comparison, Bebo’s homepage was 2.21 MB and had 238 objects – 160 more objects than the next ‘heaviest’ site – therefore implying that the reason for a slow load time (9.43 seconds) and a less reliable service (99.1 percent), was that the homepage needs to load far more elements and features than the other social media sites. Interestingly, Bebo had actually knocked seven seconds off its load time since April, and increased its homepage availability by an impressive 1.37 percent.

On the whole, sites performed well in March, with six out of the eleven sites loading in less than two seconds, and the fastest – Google+ – loading in less than one second. Furthermore, nine out of the eleven sites had availability of more than 99 percent for their homepage. Other notable changes in the table included Facebook, which improved its load time by more than 0.3 seconds and rose three places in terms of response time, as well as Flickr, which had achieved the top spot for availability in February with 99.93 percent load success rate, but unfortunately fell to eighth place, with an availability of 99.38 percent in March.

The analysis shows that it is critical to find a balance between a feature-rich homepage – potentially appealing more to users, however often slower as a result – and a quickly loading, reliable page. It is crucial to realise that no matter how important or attractive the features are that the site is attempting to load, if it fails to load completely or takes too long, visitors will turn to competitor sites and that valuable loyalty between the user and the social network will have been broken.


About the author

Robert Castley has been a solutions consultant at internet testing and monitoring specialist Keynote, for over three years. Prior to working at Keynote, Robert worked as a Professional Services Consultant at a document management company, Macro 4, where he worked on developing custom web interfaces. He regularly engages with customers and has an in-depth technical knowledge in web development. One of his proudest achievements is developing one of the world’s most popular Open Source Content Management Systems to the masses – Mambo, which now lives on as Joomla!

Robert is an authoritative spokesperson on web performance and regularly participates in industry events on the topic. Robert is passionate about the need to provide the optimum experience for internet users, irrelevant of the device they are using. He advocates a ‘three screen approach’ that provides a consistent experience whether a website is being accessed via mobile, tablet or desktop computer.

About the company

Keynote Systems is the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud monitoring. It provides companies with solutions for continuously improving the online experience. Founded in 1995, Keynote provides testing, monitoring and measurement products and services for any enterprise including online portals, e-commerce sites, B2B sites, mobile operators and mobile infrastructure providers. Keynote products and services help companies improve customer experience in four areas: Web performance, mobile quality, streaming and real user experience testing.

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