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


By Robert Castley

On average the social media homepages were slower in March than they had been in February, as the average load time increased from 1.72 to 1.90 seconds. In terms of reliability, however, the sites remained consistent, with ten out of the eleven sites securing a 99 percent average success rate or above. The one site which consistently didn’t make the 99 percent level was LinkedIn. Unlike in February, none of the social media sites scored 100 percent reliability, and even more worrying was that only one of the sites scored 99.9 percent or above.

The sites collectively slower load time in March was due to a slower load time across the board, rather than any one site dragging down the average. Five of the eleven homepages took significantly longer to load and the rest were only marginally quicker. The largest change came from Friends Reunited which added 0.57 seconds to its average load time and also saw its load success rate fall from 100% last month to 99.16% this month. The slowest homepage to load, however, was Bebo, which took 3.84 seconds on average.

A clear correlation this month was between the response time of the homepages and, either the number of objects or the size of the page. Hi5, for example, took an additional 0.12 seconds to load on average, likely due to the increase in objects, from 65 to 83, and this may also have affected its load success rate, which fell from 99.73 percent to 99.08 percent this month. Similarly, Bebo suffered an increase of 0.26 seconds to its average load time, possibly due to the increase in page size from 0.87MB to 0.92MB.

It’s disappointing to see the social media homepage performance worsening and it’s difficult to pinpoint why pages were struggling more than usual in March. This indicates how important it is to continually test and monitor a site. Unexpected traffic is not unusual, for example, and the sites must be able to deliver good performance consistently if they are to retain users. Looking at one site in particular, after a run of month-on-month improvement for Friends Reunited, the tables seem to have turned and it’s critical that the site owners don’t fall into old habits with the design of the site, as this may lead them back to the poor response times we were seeing towards the end of 2013.

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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