Web frontend performance – distilled

Web frontend performance – distilled

Web performance used to be (in the good old server-only / server-rendering days) mainly dominated by the performance of your webservers delivering the dynamic content to the browser. Well, this changed quite a lot with application-like web frontends. Their main promise is to replace these annoying request/response pauses with one longer waiting period in the beginning of the session – but then have light-speed for subsequent requests.

Here are some really good links I just discovered today – they all deal with various aspects of frontend web-performance. Let’s start.

Comparing MV* frameworks? There is a great project – named TodoMVC – that compares various frontend-frameworks – amongst them are Backbone.js, AngularJS, Ember.js, KnockoutJS, Dojo, YUI, Agility.js, Knockback.js, CanJS, Maria, Polymer, React, Mithril, Ampersand, Flight, Vue.js, MarionetteJS, Vanilla JS, jQuery and a lot more.

Performance impact comparison by the filament group. A good effort on research was spent on the topic “Research: Performance Impact of Popular JavaScript MVC Frameworks” – focusing on e.g. Angular.js, Backbone.js and Ember.js. Performance testing was done with the previous mentioned implementation of TodoMVC. The raw data is accessible as well. Most interesting are the results (measuring avg. first render time):

Mobile 3G connection on Nexus 5

  • Ember averages about 5 seconds
  • Angular averages about 4 seconds
  • Backbone averages about 1 second

PC via LAN

  • Ember averages about 1.17 seconds
  • Angular averages about 0.88 seconds
  • Backbone averages about 0.29 seconds

Practical hints to accelerate responsive designed websites. In his post “How we make RWD sites load fast as heck” Scott Jehl (@scottjehl) gives some pracitcal hints on what to focus on:

  • Page wight isn’t the only measure; focus on perceived performance
  • Shortening the critical path
  • Going async
  • Inlining code
  • Shooting for 14kb
  • Taking advantage of caches
  • Using grunt in the deploy pipe

Angular 1.x and architecture problems. Another interesting blog article by Peter-Paul Koch (@ppk) focusses explicitly on Angular. “The problem with Angular” talks about severe performance problems with Angular 1.x versions. In his blog he notes

” … Angular 2.0, which would be a radical departure from 1.x. Angular users would have to re-code their sites in order to be able to deploy the new version …”

Wow. That’s interesting and a good indication for serious architecture issues with Angular 1.x …

Thought-leading companies and performance. Good articles / blog posts from leading companies on page speed performance:

Getting page speed into the heads of your organization – a first hand report

Just recently in Hamburg, I had the pleasure of talking to web site performance addicted people – on the 17th Web Performance Meetup. I talked about the way we at FriendScout24 got the importance of web page speed into the heads of our organization. The whole presentation is available publicly.


Page Load time is crucial for a web service. Why?

For a technical person, page load time feels like being important. It’s a natural tendency, an instinct almost, to make everything perform best. Unfortunately, from a business perspective that’s not really a driver to impress people or make people being responsible for revenues to re-think the importance of page load time.

Why it might be of interest – also for business people?

There is a tight coupling between revenue and page load time in e-commerce businesses. The Infographic “How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line” shows slower page response time resulting in increased abandonment rates,  a Forrester study shows that 14% of online shoppers go to another site if they have to wait for a page to load – 23% will stop shopping, Shopzilla redesigned their site to load 5 seconds faster resulting in 10% revenue increase, Bing reported from a trial that a 2-second slowdown of page load time resulted in reduced revenues per user by 4,3%, Amazon measured a relation of 1% sales decrease for every 100 millisecond lost in page speed, and Google reported a revenue decrease by 20% for every 500 millisecond page performance loss, the Mozilla corporation behind Firefox managed to reduce the page load time of their download pages by 2.2 seconds resulting in 60 million additional downloads per year,

Why is it important for people? Why should web sites simply be fast?

There is this article “Our Need For Web Speed: It’s about neuroscience, not entitlement” from radware / strangeloop. It gives deeper insights into human nature and why it is important to run fast websites. A really good motivation for technical and non-technical people to think about the nature of performance. On web performance today, there is this infographic “This is your brain on a slow website” which picks up some of the arguments of the article in a displayable way.

Jakob Nielsen wrote in 2010 already in “Website Response Times” about the impact of slow web pages on humans and gives good reasons why we should definitely try to avoid this bad user experience.

Also good source of information to get an impression of the current state of the union: “Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance“.

Furthermore, there is this article on “How Facebook satisfied a need for speed“. Robert Johnson, director of engineering explains how Facebook boosted their speed by factor 2.

Another poster “Visualizing Web Performance” by strangeloop.

Page load time is critical – how to make your site run fast?

Page load time is critical. A lot of people highlight the importance of fast web sites. Amongst them are Steve Souders, Patrick Meenan, Tammy Everts, Stoyan Stefanov and others.

What to do to make your site run fast? There are tons of pages, blogs, hints, tips, tricks and other stuff around in the web. Here’s my favorite collection:

At FriendScout24, we follow this idea of fast web pages as well. I talk in another post in greater details about our goals, achievements and how we actually did it.