Slow Websites

Parkinson’s Law; “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

This well-known adage could be applied to much of modern technology.  As hardware gets more powerful and more sophisticated, the software we use grows to utilise the available resources.  About 2 decades ago, I was running Windows 3.1 and word-processing on a PC with just 4MB of memory – the PC on which I am now typing has nearly a thousand times that amount of RAM.  The software itself has grown to gargantuan proportions to utilise the extra capacity. True it has some more bells and whistles, but the core functions remain the same. Can I type any faster – NO!

Something similar is happening with the internet and websites.   In the days of dial-up 56 kilo-bits per second (Kbs)  was considered good.  But webpages would appear slowly, leading to the expression:  ‘World-Wide-Wait’.  Today with broadband speed are measured in Megabits per second, and speeds of 5Mbs are typical in most areas. This is about 100 times faster than the bad old days.  But why do we still have the wait for a slow loading page on some sites.  There are a number of reasons why this may be the case.

Page Design:       When I first started building sites, one criterion to keep in mind was speed of loading.  Images were ‘optimised’ so that they were only a big as they needed to be.  This meant not uploading a high resolution image and then telling the webpage to display it smaller, as the full sized image would still be downloaded.  Google got where it is today by having a clean simple page, which loads almost instantly. These days some webpages seem to include the kitchen sink!

Introduction:       Whilst an introductory video or animation may be impressive, and some have their place; most internet users just want to get to the ‘meat’

Slow servers:       If you use cheap hosting, or run your own web-server.  Your visitors experience may not be that great.  Remember that a webpage travels through a series of routers etc.  to reach your screen.  Like the ‘weakest link’, the slowest element will govern the speed.

These days; with broadband around, the speed at which a page loads seems to have fallen below the radar. If you design websites or own one, get a friend or associate to check it over, and comment on how fast it seems to them.

NB. If your internet is slow anyway, I will be post another article shortly on things that you need to check on.

 

Techie Glossary

RAM – Random Access Memory.  The working store used by a computer when doing ‘stuff’ -as opposed to hard disc space – which is like book shelves, you only take things down when you need them.

Byte –  is a basic unit of memory or disc space.  Basically it is enough to store a single letter or character*.

Kilo – means a thousand of whatever, or a thousand times; and likewise Mega is a Million, whereas Giga is a thousand million 1,000,000,000.  (In the early days of PCs, things were measured in Kilobytes – nowadays it is typical to use Gigabytes).

*Note:  The text of the Complete works of Shakespeare occupy about 5 MB

 

Parkinson’s Law; “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

This well-known adage could be applied to much of modern technology.  As hardware gets more powerful and more sophisticated, the software we use grows to utilise the available resources.  About 2 decades ago, I was running Windows 3.1 and word-processing on a PC with just 4MB of memory – the PC on which I am now typing has nearly a thousand times that amount of RAM.  The software itself has grown to gargantuan proportions to utilise the extra capacity. True it has some more bells and whistles, but the core functions remain the same. Can I type any faster – NO! 

Something similar is happening with the internet and websites.   In the days of dial-up 56 kilo-bits per second (Kbs)  was considered good.  But webpages would appear slowly, leading to the expression:  ‘World-Wide-Wait’.  Today with broadband speed are measured in Megabits per second, and speeds of 5Mbs are typical in most areas. This is about 100 times faster than the bad old days.  But why do we still have the wait for a slow loading page on some sites.  There are a number of reasons why this may be the case.

Page Design:       When I first started building sites, one criterion to keep in mind was speed of loading.  Images were ‘optimised’ so that they were only a big as they needed to be.  This meant not uploading a high resolution image and then telling the webpage to display it smaller, as the full sized image would still be downloaded.  Google got where it is today by having a clean simple page, which loads almost instantly. These days some webpages seem to include the kitchen sink!

Introduction:       Whilst an introductory video or animation may be impressive, and some have their place; most internet users just want to get to the ‘meat’

Slow servers:       If you use cheap hosting, or run your own web-server.  Your visitors experience may not be that great.  Remember that a webpage travels through a series of routers etc.  to reach your screen.  Like the ‘weakest link’, the slowest element will govern the speed.

These days; with broadband around, the speed at which a page loads seems to have fallen below the radar. If you design websites or own one, get a friend or associate to check it over, and comment on how fast it seems to them.

NB. If your internet is slow anyway, I will be post another article shortly on things that you need to check on.

Techie Glossary

RAM – Random Access Memory.  The working store used by a computer when doing ‘stuff’ -as opposed to hard disc space – which is like book shelves, you only take things down when you need them.

Byte – short for ‘by eight’ is a basic unit of memory or disc space.  Basically it is enough to store a single letter or character.

Kilo (anything) is a thousand of them or a thousand time; and likewise Mega is a Million, whereas Giga is a thousand million 1,000,000,000.  (In the early days of PCs, things were measured in Kilobytes – nowadays it is typical to use Gigabytes).

Note:  The text of the Complete works of Shakespeare occupy about 5 MB

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