Amir Khan World - Site Optimisation
Why is Site Optimisation important?
Gone are the days of 56k modems and web surfers are becoming increasingly impatient. The longer a website takes to load, the more likely the user is to become frustrated, leave the site and unlikely to return. Google often updates its algorithms to populate SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and now takes into account page load times as part of this algorithm.
What we did...
When tasked with developing the site for Amir Khan, due to the high volume traffic that the site receives it was important to optimise the site as much as possible to improve server load and page response times.
We used a number of tools and techniques to help with this. Tools such as YSlow and Page Speed are a great place to start as they provide useful advice on issues that can be improved as well as how to improve them.
One of the easiest to implement and reducing the size typically by around 70% is gzip.
Here's a video from Google that explains a bit about it:
Whilst writing code that makes the site work e.g. HTML, CSS, jQuery the code is written so that it's easier for the developers to understand. Often the code contains comments to re-jog your memory when coming back to it at a later date or if someone else is working on it to have a better understanding of what the code does. These comments and other elements can in some cases be totally removed and in other cases reduced in character size. By minifying the code, removing these unneeded characters and in other cases shorting them the code is again significantly reduced which again helps us further in making the website faster and getting the content to the user.
In most cases the homepage is the first page visited before users continue navigating through the site. As a result of this we added extra code at the bottom of the homepage. This meant that further pages viewed throughout the site load quicker, as by this point, code has been cached on the users computer, meaning that they don't have to be downloaded again.
Before any optimisation was implemented we took results of the initial page load times, resulting in times around 8-10 seconds for the homepage. The homepage is quite intensive as a landing page, containing a slideshow, large images, tab system that provides extra content, photo and video gallery, a countdown to Khan's next fight and connections to Twitter and Facebook. After a number of optimisation techniques were implemented, we were able to reduce this time to around 2.2 - 2.4 seconds.