Page performance

Table of contents Page retrieval process of web browsers

Nielsen makes the assertion that fast response times are the most important design criterion for web pages. He made this experience in all his web usability studies since 1994.

Do you believe it? If not, let's imagine the following dream.

You work for a successful web agency. You have designed an overwhelming nice web site intensively using graphics. After the last tests with the most important browsers, you demonstrate the web site with your customer's marketing boss. You use your high-performance notebook with the locally running web server. So, your demonstration is totally independent of any network connection to the production web server. The boss is satisfied and accepts your work. Everyone is happy. You are convinced to be a clever web designer. Some days later, your boss asks you to visit the most important customer your company ever had. It's your task to convince this customer that your company is the right choice to totally redesign their web site. You have perfectly prepared the meeting. Your presentation is excellent. The design team's sub-notebook and LCD projector is the right equipment for such a presentation. The flight to the customer is calm. You feel good. Your presentation is successful. Everyone agrees with you that your company is the best choice until the chief executive officer asks you to demonstrate the result of your last project. Well, you don't carry your own notebook with you, but it shouldn't be a problem. The ethernet socket seems to be out of order. Never mind! Let's use the ISDN socket? But there is no ISDN socket in the wall. Ok! Your last chance is the cellular network and your GSM PC Card. Wow! You immediately get a connection to your Internet provider. You have been saved. But what happens then? Your browser falls asleep while retrieving the first page from the production server. It has taken a very short period of time to retrieve the HTML page but all these graphics stop your browser to fulfill the task. The meeting attendees are astonished. However, the next page should be better. Let's activate the hyperlink. Ok, the HTML page arrives very quickly again but the graphics still bore the attendees. No, this is unacceptable, all announce. You must stop the demonstration and leave the meeting without the contract in your case. What a disaster!

Hey, wake up! It was a dream. If you use as less objects, e.g. graphics, as possible in your web pages, this dream will never become reality.

If you should ask yourself, why the number of objects is so important in a wireless environment especially in case of a cellular network with a high latency, then you should carefully read the following sub-section. It explains the usual behaviour of browsers and how they retrieve web pages including visually embedded objects.

Copyright © 2001-2003 by Rainer Hillebrand and Thomas Wierlemann