There are many different website performance tests out there. SEO, speed, and likely others I don't care about as well. Many of these tests measure your website against metrics that have absolutely no bearing on your performance. So, what do they really mean?
A recent speed test we used on wearekeystone.com gave us the worst score possible for use of CDN. That would upset the average Keystone customer if they didn't know what CDN is - a content delivery network. A CDN is a network of servers spread across an area (in our case, the U.S.) that can host the larger files from your website. Normally, when someone in Wyoming loads your website, everything is served from one location, maybe California, Texas, or Virginia. But if you use a CDN, some of the bigger files (the ones that take the longest to load, and can slow a website down) would be served up from whatever location was closest to Wyoming. So instead of waiting for images to load from your server in Virginia, those images come from a server in Denver - much closer to Wyoming.
If you’re ESPN - who will get more traffic in one second than all of our customers will probably get in a year, yeah, CDN (and the large cost) is a great idea. But if you're selling your services to a relatively small number of people, using a CDN is a complete waste of resources. But then...if you're trying to poach our customers, what better way to do it than by using a test they don't understand and is of zero use to the customer.
Our "Compress Transfer” score is bad because we could compress our images more. If we do what they’ve suggested, the images will begin to degrade and look bad. Yes, we could potentially double the speed of downloaded images from 2 milliseconds to 1 millisecond.
I don't really care...and it made me feel even better that CNN.com also got an ‘F’ for “Compress Images.” I’m sure they want their images to look good as well.
What can you do if your images are too big?
For most of you, images will be the single biggest hurdle to a quick-loading website. Here's a few tips to help you get those images just right:
While you technically CAN post any image and resize it in Kentico, it’s best if you use Adobe Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) or some other photo editing software. This will reduce the size of any digital images you use to the size at which it will appear on the website. So, if you took a photo with your DSLR and it’s 10,000 pixels wide and you’re using it at 200 pixels wide…you need to reduce the size in your photo editor AND use a “save for web” feature (like in Photoshop Elements) to make the file size as small as possible. The photo will actually look better and load much quicker when this tactic is used.
How Vince Wilfork relates to web pages
The best analogy I can think of for these tests is the NFL combine:
The 360 pound run-stopping defensive tackle gets an ‘F’ for speed.
The 180 pound defensive back gets an ‘A’ for speed.
Nobody would expect either one of them to perform well doing the other person’s job. So while it’s fun to watch Vince Wilfork make an interception and run…belly looking like Jello…nobody is going to expect him to guard a wide receiver.
Of course, if any of you want to give us ESPN money for your hosting, I’m happy to start using a CDN and bring those speed test scores up for you!