How Fast Is… Time.com?
Our regular video series How Fast Is…? examines real world websites and details the cause of their performances issues as well as what should be done to solve them. After all, the best way to learn about front-end web performance is to see what other people are doing right and doing wrong. In this edition of How Fast Is…? we analyze Time Inc’s Time.com news website.
Why a News Site?
News sites provide an interesting case study on frontend web performance for multiple reasons. First of all, most news sites provide free access to their articles and stories. This means almost all news sites use online ads to generate revenue. We all know that third party content can be a big source of performance problems. When it’s a non-revenue generating website, it is far easier to decide if an analytics package or sharing widget is worth the drop in performance. If things get really bad, you can always just turn them off.
News sites however, can’t just “turn off” their advertising. For better or worse that is their business model. So I think it is interesting to look at news sites to see if third party content is the primary source of their performance issues and how they try to resolve those issues.
Additionally, news sites are touched by a lot of different people and departments. News sites have the the typical IT or marketing teams focused on the day to day operations and the look and feel of the site. But they also have a large number of journalists and editors uploading content and stories. There are often deadlines and pressure, which can in turn lead to people forgetting to apply performance optimizations or follow a given process.
Furthermore, news sites have diverse sets of content including news stories, images, interactive slide shows and maps, video (both stored and live streaming). All of this rich content provides many opportunities for optimization.
This unique mix of people, creating all sorts of rich content, under the pressure of deadlines, all along side third party content that cannot be disabled makes for a great case study in frontend web performance. I hope you enjoy the video.