Today we launched a new version of www.abb.com and all our 58 country sites. The sites are now optimized for screen width 1024 pixels rather than 800, but the biggest change is in performance. Since we started working with optimization back in March/April this year, load time for the home page has been reduced to a third of what it was. A big benefit for users!
You may think this has been achieved by stripping the page of images and functionality, but no, quite to the contrary images are larger than before and all content and functionality is still there. Instead we have made a lot of improvements behind the scene.
I'll give most of the credit to a tool called YSlow that I have written about in a previous post. that is very helpful in guiding us in our work. This is an add-on to the Firefox browser that analyzes your page and scores all elements.
It may come as a surprise to many that the amount of content is only of marginal importance, it is all the overhead that slows down loading, especially the number of elements in a page.
When we started optimizing we had 64 elements in the home page, this is now down to 18.
A tool that can help you understand this better is pingdom. Here are links to our reports for March and November respectively, showing the improvements that we have made. A great feature with pingdom is that it saves your results so you can make comparisons over time.
When we started out YSlow gave the homepage a score of F (56/100), now the score is A (96/100). But we're still not at the end of the road. Our main focus so far has been on the top pages as they receive the most traffic. The pages further down the hierarchy have also benefited from these improvements, but is addition they have their own issues that require further investigation.
When we install new hardware later this year we will also start gzipping more content than now, as we have been holding back some elements for fear of putting too much load on the servers.