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

By Robert Castley

The social media site homepages were more reliable in May than they were in April – meaning that the chances of a site loading correctly when visited were higher. Ten out of the 11 pages had a successful load rate over 99 percent in May, compared to only seven out of the 11 sites achieving this is April. Similarly, in terms of the time pages took to load, the sites performed better in May than they did in April. Two out of the 11 sites achieved an average response time of under one second in May – Google+ and Pinterest – compared to in April when only Google+ was able to load this time.


Despite the number of sites performing well increasing as a whole, the sites performance remained fairly consistent. The average load time of all the social media homepages took 2.69 seconds in May, compared to 2.63 seconds in April. In terms of availability, the sites had a 99.48 percent successful load rate in May, only marginally better than 99.17 percent in April.

The changes occurring between April and May were primarily due to three of the social media sites – YouTube, Pinterest and Flicker. For YouTube, after making substantial improvements last month, in May the site was slower by over a third of a second than it had been in April. Homepage size increased from 0.52MB to 1.28MB and its object number went up from 25 to 29, a hefty increase that resulted in the page slow down. The YouTube homepage regularly changes and the varying results show how big an impact these can have on performance. It is a testament to YouTube that reliability hasn’t suffered – in April reliability stood at 99.04 percent compared to 99.13 percent in May.

Pinterest saw a more positive change as its faster load time and higher successful load rate from April continued into May. Pinterest was able to reduce its object count further in May, from 19 to 18 and while its page size remained the same at 0.17MB, load time reduced from 1.47 seconds in April to 1.41 seconds in May. Successful load rate also increased from 99.64 percent in April to 99.84 percent in May.

Flickr’s homepage also saw significant changes this month. Flicker was slower in May taking 1.93 seconds to load, compared to 1.69 seconds to load in April. This was most likely due to the increased page size from 0.5MB to 0.84MB, despite the object number for the page only increasing by one. Successful load rate was also maintained at 99.43 percent in both April and May.

The improvements in the performance of the social media homepages this month is promising. The fact that two out of the 11 sites have now made it under the one second load time, and ten out of the 11 sites have a successful load rate of above 99 percent, is a brilliant achievement. Google+ and Pinterest are now racing at the front of the pack, both having met these high standards. The fact that these two sites performing the best are also two of the newest, and to some, the most exciting on the internet at the moment, is no coincidence. It’s great to see that they are continuing to make a good first impression.

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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