NZ Homepage Drag Race – Chrome vs IE8 – which is faster ?

August 30th, 2011

Introduction

Recently, Gomez released information that Google Chrome was the fastest browser from real world testing. That got me thinking, how does Chrome compare to IE8 for New Zealand webpages. For most websites, IE8 is the most popular browser, so it will be an interesting piece of research.

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I’ve created a mini-test of 40 New Zealand homepages. I’ve split the test into 4 tests of download performance, that represent a cross-section of the best and the worst that NZ homepages have to offer.

  • 10 top optimised homepages
  • 10 worst optimised homepages
  • 10 fastest homepages
  • 10 slowest homepages

    I want to see if the “quality” of a page affects the ability of the browser to download and render the pages faster. Also, I want to see if network speed has any affect on the ability of browser to the load the pages faster. From a technical point of view (browserscope), both browsers have network similar capabilities – both browsers can load from 6 hosts at once and have a maximum of 35 connections open at one time.

    Summary results

    Chrome vs Ie8 Homepage testing – 20mbit network connection

    Test Network Winner % faster Ave secs faster
    Top 10 optimised homepages 20mb Chrome 7/10 7% 0s
    Worst 10 optimised homepages 20mb Chrome 10/10 46% 0.8s
    10 fastest homepages 20mb Chrome 7/10 4% 0.06s
    10 slowest homepages 20mb Chrome 10/10 114% 5.02s



    Chrome vs Ie8 Homepage testing – 1.5mbit network connection

    Test Network Winner % faster Ave secs faster
    Top 10 optimised homepages 1.5mb Chrome 5/10 0% 0.15s
    Worst 10 optimised homepages 1.5mb Chrome 10/10 41% 1.49s
    Top 10 fastest homepages 1.5mb Chrome 6/10 21% 0.29s
    Top 10 slowest homepages 1.5mb Chrome 10/10 68% 7.18s

    All of the site were selected from the previous full download speed audit in July. Full results and videos of all 40 tests are available on the Google docs spreadsheet.

    Key findings

    • Chrome is at least 51% faster than IE8 faster across all tests. There was some “glitches” where IE8 was faster by a couple of seconds eg. On Geekzone.co.nz, IE8 loaded the page 2 secs faster than Chrome.
    • IE8 and Chrome were more evenly matched for the top optimised pages. For DSL speed, it was a tie 5-5 between Chrome and IE8, 20mbit it was 7-3 in favour of Chrome.
    • The most interesting point of the tests was for the slowest and least optimised sites, Google Chrome loaded slow and poorly optimised websites a lot better than IE8. Google Chrome was hands down winner (40-0) for the slowest and poorly optimised sites for both network speeds (1.5Mb and 20Mb) . Chrome was between 41%-114% faster than IE8!

      Full Results

      Test results for 20Mb net connection (Office broadband speeds)

      Test Chrome
      Tests Faster
      Chrome
      % faster
      Chrome
      Ave Secs faster
      IE8
      Tests Faster
      IE8
      % secs faster
      IE8
      Ave Secs faster
      Top 10 optimised homepages 7 40% 0.33s 3 70% 0.88s
      Worst 10 optimised homepages 10 46% 0.8s 0 0% 0s
      Top 10 fastest homepages 7 50% 0.3s 3 105% 0.5s
      Top 10 Slowest homepages 10 114% 5.02s 0 0% 0s

      Test results for 1.5Mb net connection (Home broadband speeds)

      Test Chrome
      Tests Faster
      Chrome
      % faster
      Chrome
      Ave Secs faster
      IE8
      Tests Faster
      IE8
      % secs faster
      IE8
      Ave Secs faster
      Top 10 optimised homepages 5 35% 0.58s 5 38% 0.74s
      Worst 10 optimised homepages 10 41% 1.49s 0 0% 0s
      Top 10 fastest homepages 6 56% 0.56s 4 31% 0.58s
      Top 10 Slowest homepages 10 68% 7.18s 0 0% 0s

      Bottom Line

      We’ve confirmed that Chrome is the fastest browser and it will load bad websites faster than IE8. So if you want to experience the web as fast as possible, make sure your using Chrome. Do you need another reason to switch?

  • Background to the "Forgotten Art of Web Performance"

    July 18th, 2011

    Image courtesy of Wedo Photography


    I wanted to write a little bit of background to why I gave this talk at WDCNZ. I got hassled a little bit by the other presenters on why I gave this talk. That web performance was “Old Hat” and companies have known about this for 5 years. That’s correct, but very very few companies are doing it right especially in New Zealand. I would have loved to give a talk on advanced web performance techniques like Varnish and Edge Side Includes or how to handle 10K requests a second on a VM. BUT with the data from my Web page test results, fewer than 10% websites in New Zealand are doing it right.

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    Here’s the facts, if all New Zealand websites did four things

    • Turn on web compression
    • set expiry properly for images css and JS,
    • Bundle JS and CSS files
    • use image spriting


    Every New Zealand website would be TWICE AS FAST.

    I do a lot of Research and Development on web performance, I do consulting and I talk to a lot of companies about web performance. What I find the companies don’t understand enough about the operational side of their websites ie what is happening at the webserver and database. Some of the basic principles about how web sites scale is completely oblivious to some developers. eg. the difference between dynamic and static content.

    In my talk I had to pick one site which has had all of the characteristics of bad web performance. Unfortunately the newstalkzb was the one that I choose. I could have been chosen several other websites. There are a lot of really really bad preforming websites. (As a sector blogs and news sites have a lot of work to do to improve performance)

    I was thinking of a what to highlight just how “backward” the thinking in Web performance in modern terms. I came up with an idea of what was the worst html techniques that no web developer in their right mind would use today. So I made the correlation between 1990′s web design and bad web performance traits. Just as we have moved on from those designs to better designs, we need to progress web performance to next level in NZ. Its not hard to make significant performance wins.

    I want developers and companies to take professional pride in their work and do a good job. I have seen very talent company release a website for a blue chip client with a 122 CSS files, which caused the site to take over 10 seconds to load. I’m sorry I can’t that seriously. Not very professional! I would want my company to be associated with kickass, innovative, FAST websites.

    For those that have asked me, here is the video

    How ugly is bad web performance from John Clegg on Vimeo.


    WPO setting = BAD Design
    No HTTP compression = Blink text
    Poor expiry settings on static assets = Marquee text
    No Javascript / No CSS bundling = Comic Sans font
    No Image Spriting = Animated Gifs

    Thanks to Martin Hipp for hacking the HTML for me!

    Mobile is our future

    Web Performance is even more important is Mobile. All of the web performance strategies and tactics are a lot more relevant with mobile as network latency is much much worse. The top minds in web performance are now starting to focus on Mobile, as a result the tools and best practices are being defined as we speak.

    Should how we fix it?

    Service companies must make it a priority with their clients. I bet that clients expect that their website will be the fastest possible. They do not understand that it has to built that way.

    The best way to make Web performance happen is to make it a part of the build process of your website. There are plenty of tools to make Javascript and CSS bundling a part of your build and deployment process of your website. Then Web optimisation happens automagically everytime!

    For service companies, creating a common build process with bunding and image spriting will become a small incremental cost that can be re-applied across all your clients.

    If that sounds like too much work then look at mod_pagespeed module for apache or commercial solution Aptimize

    In web performance – total number of request matters

    July 17th, 2011

    Correlation between page load time and total number of requests


    Here is new image from my latest research of homepage performance.

    This clearly shows the correlation between page load time and number of requests. The pageload time increases, so does the number of requests on the page.

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    From my presentation at WDCNZ, I recommend less than 60 total requests for a page, if you want to have a fast website.

    Looks like there still a _lot_ of work to be done in speeding up NZ websites.

    Homepage hall of shame – July 2011

    July 16th, 2011

    Introduction

    This is the latest installment of the “Home page hall of Shame” which is an independent audit of the state of Web Page Optimisation in New Zealand. This test takes the top 160 New Zealand based websites from Alexa rankings and compares a number of different metrics – Page Size, Download time, optimisation scores and Javascript optimisation.

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    Summary

    • The homepages for 160 of the top NZ based websites was measured using  webpagetest.org.nz on 1.5Mb DSL and 20Mb connection Thanks to aptimize.com.
    • The average page size of homepages was 661.8K Up from (554.6K in Dec 2010 359.6K in May 2009 & 305.1K in 2008)
    • Fastest home pages load < 2 sec. Top site loads in 1.1 secs !
      • The average download time for office broadband – 5.98 secs(3.97 secs for page reload)
      • The average download time for home broadband connection – 12.43 secs (5.21 secs for page reload)
    • 66% of websites use  WEB COMPRESSION
    • Only 35% of sites load in under 4 seconds.
    • The largest pages were over 4000K. The largest site was 4Mb and with one image over 3Mb.
    • A lot Advertising javascript still is not being compressed
    • Some sites have dozens of Javascript and CSS files, worst offender had 54 javascript files.
    • The fastest sites have less total requests. There seems to be a strong co-relation to lower total requests to speed.

    Percent of sites that got a passing grade for the basic optimization checks:

    Optimization Percent of pages with a passing grade (2011)
    Keep-alive Enabled 89.4%
    Compress Text 61.55%
    Cache Static 31.4%
    Compress Images 66.4%

    Download time distribution – Office Broad band (20Mb)


    Table 1 – Shows the distribution of download times of the top 160 home pages using office broadband speed.

    Time Frequency
    <1 0 (0%)
    1 – 2 12 (7.55%)
    2 – 3 24 (15.09%)
    3 – 4 19 (11.95%)
    4 – 5 27 (16.98%)
    5 – 6 22 (13.84%)
    6 – 7 13 (8.18%)
    7 – 8 12 (7.55%)
    8 – 9 6 (3.77%)
    9 – 10 4 (2.52%)
    10-12.5 3 (1.89%)
    12.5-15 9 (5.66%)
    15+ 8 (5.03%)

    Download time distribution – Home Broad band (1.5Mb)


    Table 1 – Shows the distribution of download times of the top 160 home pages using home broadband speed.

    Time Frequency
    <1 0 (0%)
    1 – 2 2 (1.26%)
    2 – 3 8 (5.03%)
    3 – 4 6 (3.77%)
    4 – 5 17 (10.69%)
    5 – 6 16 (10.06%)
    6 – 7 21 (13.71%)
    7 – 8 16 (10.06%)
    8 – 9 9 (5.66%)
    9 – 10 16 (10.06%)
    10-12.5 22 (13.84%)
    12.5-15 10 (6.29%)
    15+ 6 (3.77%)

    What should we do to improve

    The Data

    Optimisation

    What? This table shows the top ranking home pages with highest optimisation scores as ranked by performance ranking tools YSlow and Pagespeed.

    How? We used the website www.showslow.com to record the score for the test.

    Why is this important? This result shows which sites are best optimised for web performance. The sites  are optimised sites for fastest downloading and reloading of pages.

    Top 10 most optimised sites

    Site YSlow Rating Page speed Combined Score
    geekzone.co.nz 95 98 193
    dashtickets.co.nz 87 95 182
    snipesoft.net.nz 91 90 181
    www.mightyape.co.nz 84 96 180
    zenbu.co.nz 92 86 178
    realestate.co.nz 88 89 177
    xero.com 84 92 176
    zoomin.co.nz 87 88 175
    holidayhouses.co.nz 83 92 175
    slingshot.co.nz 76 93 173

    Top 10 worst optimised sites

    Site YSlow Rating Page speed Combined Score
    Courier Post 75 15 90
    smilecity.co.nz 73 17 90
    yellowlocal.co.nz 50 45 90
    metservice.co.nz 63 38 101
    rcnz.co.nz 80 25 105
    webjet.co.nz 66 41 107
    ezibuy.co.nz 71 37 108
    tvnz.co.nz 71 37 108
    genesisenergy.co.nz 68 61 109
    flightcentre.co.nz 42 57 109

    Download time

    What? This table shows the top ranking home pages with fastest and slowest download times .

    How? We used the website webpagetest.org website on 1.5Mb DSL connection Broadband and 20Mb Office network connection in Wellington NZ to simulate a fair test of all the webpages. The test took page over the week of the 2nd to 11th of July.

    Why is this important? This result shows which sites are fastest to load for users. The faster the website, the more pages that a user can visit in the allotted time.

    Top 10 fastest home page download speed using Office broadband

    Site Size (K) Total requests Webpagetest.org first load time
    - Broadband (secs)
    telecom.co.nz 274.4K 32 1.171s
    dol.govt.nz 121K 21 1.234s
    snipesoft.co.nz 124K 17 1.489s
    auckland.ac.nz 170K 32 1.58s
    massey.ac.nz 401K 37 1.596s
    xenbu.co.nz 31K 13 1.623s
    geonet.org.nz 105K 21 1.729s
    school.nz 52K 7 1.731s
    maxx.co.nz 431K 41 1.786s
    westpac.co.nz 385K 20 1.874s

    Top 10 slowest home page download speed using Office Broadband

    Site Size (K) Total requests Webpagetest.org time first load time
    - Broadband (secs)
    skykiwi.com 991K 116 26.88s
    thestandard.org.nz 4076K 92 20.917s
    istars.co.nz 3293K 186 20.092s
    whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz 1765K 151 17.199s
    nz.yahoo.com 828.1K 105 16.491s
    interest.co.nz 410K 55 16.381s
    3news.co.nz 900K 142 16.287s
    thebigidea.co.nz 1195K 179 15.081s
    readersdigest.co.nz 1541K 202 14.6s
    stuff.co.nz 1052K 160 14.353s

    Size

    What? This table shows the largest and smallest home pages by total download size .

    How? We used YSlow to provide the tool download size of the home page including all the HTML , Javascript, CSS, image and Flash files.

    Why is this important? This highlights the total size of some of the home page. Some of these webpages sizes are out of control and webmaster need to think about the time that it takes to load their sites.

    Top 10 largest home pages by size

    Site Size (K) Total requests
    thestandard.org.nz 4076K 92
    istars.co.nz 3293K 186
    stoppress.co.nz 2141K 140
    wahleoil.gotcha.co.nz 1765K 151
    yazoom.co.nz 1762K 216
    thewarehouse.co.nz 1642K 89
    barfoot.co.nz 1610K 68
    readersdigest.co.nz 1541K 202
    nzherald.co.nz 1429K 7.938
    eventcinemas.co.nz 1396K 110

    Top 10 smallest home pages by size

    Site Size (K) Total requests
    zenbu.co.nz 31K 13
    school.nz 52K 7
    elgar.govt.nz 76K 19
    oldfriends.co.nz 83K 28
    geonet.org.nz 105K 21
    dol.govt.nz 121K 21
    snipesoft.co.nz 124K 17
    radionz.co.nz 130K 23
    psis.co.nz 133K 15
    builderscrack.co.nz 169K 26

    Cacheability

    What? This table shows which sites have the fastest reload time. ie. this is the 2nd loading of a site after an initial load.  This is an indication of effective are the cacheability of the webpage.

    How? We used the website webpagetest.org website on 20Mb Office connection Broadband in Wellington NZ to simulate a fair test of all the webpages. The test took page over the week of 2nd to 11th of July.

    Why is this important? This test shows which sites will load fastest for regular users. A cacheable site will load quickly as the browser does not have to reload all the content that hasn’t change (static content)

    Note: There seems to be some problems with the reload calculation as geonet.org.nz and westpac.co.nz should be at the top of this table but for some reason they are not.

    Top 10 fastest cached pages – 2nd reload of a page

    Site Size (K) Total requests Webpagetest.org time first load – Broadband (secs) Cached load – Broadband (secs)
    oldfriends.co.nz 83K 28 1.971s 0.822s
    farmers.co.nz 743K 26 3.3s 0.842s
    zenbu.co.nz 31K 13 1.623s 0.844s
    snipesoft.net.nz 124K 17 1.489s 0.866s
    elgar.govt.nz 76K 19 4.838s 0.929s
    dol.govt.nz 121K 21 1.234s 0.939s
    aucklandcity.govt.nz 176K 28 5.355s 1.018s
    school.nz 52K 7 1.731s 1.054s
    nzqa.govt.nz 604K 32 2.108s 1.1078s
    dashtickets.co.nz 502K 31 2.51s 1.103s

    Javascript

    What? This table shows which sites have most javascript files on the home page.

    How? We used YSlow to provide the number of the javascript files used on the web page.

    Why is this important? Javascript files can be bad for your website if they are not properly optimised and loaded in the correct way. The scripts can be block the downloading of any other content on the webpage.  The more javascript files on the site can make the page very slow while the user has to wait until the browsers loads all the javascript then continues to render the page.

    Top 10 home pages with most javascript files

    Site Size (K) Total requests # of Javascript Files Webpagetest.org time first load- Broadband (secs)
    whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz 1765K 151 54 17.199s
    flightcentre.co.nz 917K 156 47 5.7s
    readersdigest.co.nz 1541K 202 35 14.698s
    thebigidea.co.nz 1195K 179 33 15.081s
    vodafone.co.nz 824K 130 33 4.912s
    yazoom.co.nz 1762 216 32 7.931s
    kiwblog.co.nz 528K 72 32 13.622s
    tickettek.co.nz 1022K 146 30 13.267s
    tvnz.co.nz 832K 72 32 5.929s
    aatravel.co.nz 870K 114 29 5.892s

    SEO training on Tuesday

    July 10th, 2011

    I’m giving a half day  SEO training session on Wednesday for NZCS in Wellington. Pricing starts from $230 for NZCS members and $345 for the general public. This course is open to everyone.

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    This course has been derived from the specialist consulting that I have provide my clients over the past few years and my learning from running a number of sites for the last ten years. I’ve added some new slides from recent findings on the effectiveness of Twitter and Google+

    The workshop includes the following:

    Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

    • What is SEO?

    • SEO and online marketing (SEM)
    • SEO Key concepts
    • SEO – Science or Magic?
    • Paid Ads
    • SEO in practice
    • Page / Content Optimisation
    • Site Optimisation
    • Link building
    • SEO and Social Media
    • Tools

    More courses are available in Auckland and Christchurch later in the year.