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

By Robert Castley


In April, the social media site homepages performed quicker on average than they did in March, but were less reliable. The average load time for the homepages was 2.63 seconds, marginally faster than 2.77 seconds in March. Throughout the month, six out of the eleven sites saw a faster load time in March than they did in April. In terms of reliability – the chances of a site loading correctly when visited – there was a higher success rate in March, 99.51 percent, than there was in April, 99.17 percent. Only seven out of the eleven sites had a success rate of above 99 percent in April, compared to nine out of eleven sites in March.

Pinterest saw the most significant change in performance in April. By cutting the number of objects on its homepage from 23 to 19, and consequently reducing the page size from 1.13MB to 0.97MB, it was able to achieve a load time of 1.38 seconds in April. This was a vast improvement on the 2.33 seconds the homepage took to load in March. Pinterest was also able to maintain reliability and there was little change from last month – 99.71 percent in March to 99.64 percent in April.

The UK YouTube site also saw improvements in April, as the time for its homepage to load was reduced from 1.63 seconds to 1.28 seconds. This could have also been due to a reduction in the number of objects on the homepage – which fell from 25 to 20, and the page size – which fell from 0.97MB to 0.52MB. YouTube UK did become less reliable however, knocking almost a second off its availability – from 99.96 percent in March to 99.04 percent in April.

The impact page construction has on performance is evident in April’s statistics. The Pinterest and YouTube UK homepages saw the most significant changes in their object counts and page sizes, and this was reflected in the time it took for the pages to load and the likelihood of the loads being successful. With such an impact on performance, all organisations need to take time to consider what adds value to customer experience and what slows the site down creating frustration. This is more critical than ever on a homepage – not only are customers more likely to switch to competitors because they haven’t invested much time in the site, but it provides the first impression, and if performance is bad, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the online experience.

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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