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

By Robert Castley

The social media site homepages were more reliable in June that they had been in May, with seven out of the eleven sites monitored increasing their average load success rate – meaning that the chances of a site loading correctly when visited were higher. The homepages were slower in their response times however, with six out of the eleven sites seeing their average load time increase. Google+ maintained its lead at the top of the load time chart this month, however, for reliability, Facebook lost its first place position to three joint top performers – Google+, Pinterest and Twitter – all securing a load success rate of 99.89 percent.


Of particular note this month were Flickr and Hi5, both social media sites performed significantly worse in June than they had done in May. Flickr’s homepage took an additional almost half a second to load on average, most likely due its increase in objects from 20 to 24, and its page size from 0.84MB to 1.42MB. Hi5 also saw a worrying slow-down in its homepage’s average load time, from 3.57 seconds to a slow 4.82 seconds, although its reliability did improve, with the chances of a successful load increasing from 99.43 percent to 99.66 percent.

Homepages performing significantly better in June than in May included YouTubeUK and Bebo. YouTubeUK, which reduced its average load time from 1.64 to 1.32 seconds, also improved its reliability in June, reaching a 99.47 percent success rate. This was most likely due to a reduction in the number of objects from 29 to 24, and in the page size from 1.28MB to 1.08MB. The second site to improve was Bebo, a long standing struggler in the Keynote social media index, it does seem to be making changes for the better. Although average load time for its homepage still took 8.2 seconds in June, this was an improvement of nearly a second (0.88s) compared to May, and the successful load rate saw a considerable jump from 97.98 percent to 99.2 percent in June. These improvements were likely to be due to the reduced number of objects from 225 to 210 and the reduced page size from 2.01MB to 1.8MB.

The social media site homepages are showing how important it is to understand the composition of a website and how additional features – resulting in a higher page size and number of objects – can translate into a clunky, poorly performing site. Monitoring the number of objects that make up a page and the corresponding size of the page is crucial to understanding how users experience it. The homepage is more important than any other page, it provides a first impression of the company and it needs to deliver what the user wants to see, how they want to see it – site performance is vital to customer perception.

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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