(I started writing this a few days ago but fell asleep due to the general slowness of websites I was trying to visit and the resulting boredom)
It was a Sunday afternoon – unseasonably cold outside, and a day that there’s not any particularly interesting social events going on. Oh yeah, the Olympics were finishing up, but most people watch TV from behind a computer these days.
And apparently, I wasn’t the only one trying to get online to my favorite forums and bookmarking sites. “This server is too busy,” “Try again later,” and one minute delays before pages even started loading…
Well, this is no way to run websites I think as I sigh, and shut down the computer for an afternoon nap…
So listen up, you don’t know when your website traffic is going to go up because of a boring Sunday afternoon, bad weather, or because you got some kind of ridiculous link from the New York Times or the front page of Digg. The point is, don’t be like Digg when they were in their slow phase! People see your page starting to load slowly and chances are they’re gonna hit the back button or close out the new tab. Google is even getting sick of it, as a big part of their Caffeine plans seem to revolve around the speed of their own sites and the typical speeds of the sites they link to.
Look, its 2010! Most sites are still mostly text, so there’s really no excuse for slow load times unless your code is messy and crashing into errors at every other execution. Even affordable hosting providers can deliver lots of bandwidth, so unless you’ve just got an absolute lemon for a host you should probably be able to get the site running fast by hunting down bugs in the error logs.
Now, bigger sites run in to problems as running multiple instances of dynamic content puts a high demand on the server’s processors. But hey, if Facebook can make PHP run fast on what might be the world’s largest & busiest website – and even freely share their progress with the web – what excuse does anyone else have left?