Velocity 2013: Web Performance Takeaways for SMBs (Part 2)

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

In this second post with Velocity Conference, we'll cover the impact and considerations your small business must take when using...

In my first post covering conference takeaways from Velocity 2013, I talked about the impact of page performance and how mobile-friendly sites are becoming more of a must. When it comes to page load speed, a slower speed can negatively impact sales. As for mobile responsiveness, businesses need to pay attention to their mobile analytics to determine whether or not it's best for their business to invest in more responsive experiences for mobile users. In this post, we'll cover the impact and considerations your business must take when using Javascript.

RelatedVelocity 2013: Web Performance Takeaways for SMBs (Part 1)

Too much Javascript!

Over the past five or six years the amount of Javascript in use on websites has exploded, both in the number and size of scripts included on the page. Javascript can provide wonderful functionality and contribute to a much more user friendly and intuitive experience for your users, but when overused can dramatically impact your site's performance. As Javascript has come to represent more of the data sent over the wire and more of the time the browser spends rendering the page it has become a larger and larger target for performance degradation. A recent study by Steve Souders of the Alexa Top 100 sites showed that on average 31% of the page load time was attributed to Javascript directly. I'm not advocating that we stop using Javascript altogether (in fact, Business.com makes use of quite a bit of Javascript functionality), but there are several best practices that should be used to limit its negative impacts. Below are a few heavy hitters, though there are many others, to share with your developers.

RelatedBusiness Blogs Generate 5x More Site Traffic, Unless Poor Design Is Driving Them Away

Where You're Loading Javascript

First, Javascript is blocking, meaning that when loaded in the traditional way via the <head> section of a page it blocks the browser from loading and parsing other files that are part of the page. If it's not absolutely necessary to load Javascript in the <head> it should be deferred to load at the end of the page.

How You're Loading Javascript

Second, all Javascript should be loaded asynchronously wherever possible, this is doubly true for 3rd party scripts that you cannot control and are often slower. There are numerous tutorials online explaining how this can be done. A good example written by Javascript expert Nicholas Zakas can be found here.

Which Javascript Framework You're Using

Third, you should only have one Javascript framework in use on a page. Popular frameworks like jQuery, YUI and Mootools offer similar and unique functionality, but you should never have more than one on a page. While they are all useful and may have one or two specific things that you want, they are large to download and taxing on the browser to parse and load, and they are going to duplicate the vast majority of each other's functions. Often times when one developer works on a site he may choose one to implement that is his favorite and then when a second developer comes along later she adds the one she likes best. This is a performance killer and should be avoided at all costs.

Related: Get help with your page performance by outsourcing to a web design company!

Overall, it seems that web performance is simply an area that has been largely overlooked by SMBs, but by paying attention to it, we can improve it. As the internet has evolved over time having a website has gone from a nice to have to a must have and now web performance needs to make the same transition. The same applies for mobile, if you don't know what kind of experience mobile users are getting on your site, it is likely a poor one. And please, let's all go easy on the Javascript.

(Image Source: O'Reilly, velocityconf.com)

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