Performance of social networking sites – Index from Keynote Systems for February 2014

 

By Robert Castley

The social media sites are collectively becoming increasingly faster and the average response time is now well under the two second maximum recommended by Keynote. Taking 1.72 seconds to load on average, compared to 1.93 seconds in January, with all but one site being available more than 99 percent of the time, shows that the social media site homepages are offering a great initial experience to those visiting the site.

Of particular note is the Friends Reunited homepage. Having improved month after month, February was no different, and the site more than halved its time to load, from 3.84 seconds in January to 1.27 seconds in February. Moreover, the site scored 100 percent for availability in February, the best score in the entire index. This is most likely due to the dramatic drop in the number of objects, from 130 to 40, and size of the homepage, which fell from 1.32 to 0.38. When considering that in October 2013 the site homepage took an average of 6.94 seconds to load and had an availability of 99.68 percent, the improvement is even more significant and will have resulted in a far better experience for users.

Sites which didn’t perform as well in February as they had in January included Wayn, which increased response time from 1.22 to 1.47 seconds on average, and also suffered from poorer availability, down to 99.72 percent in February from 99.93 in January. Wayn’s performance is also likely due to the composition of the page; the number of objects increased to 52 from 59 and the page size grew from 1.19 MB to 1.30.

Friends Reunited has proven how controlling the number of objects and size of a page can make a huge difference to the experience offered to visitors. Social media is increasingly about timely debate and if the sites fail to provide a timely experience, even at login, consumers will quickly turn to alternative networks. For Friends Reunited, in particular, halving its response time in only one month, let alone the decrease over the past four months, proves how critical it is to assess what features should be on a homepage and which should be located deeper into a site. First impressions are crucial and in a competitive environment like social networking, where there are huge revenues at stake, good homepage performance should come as standard.

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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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