This case study focuses on building an artist’s portfolio website. These are always challenging because they are large-image intensive. In the past, people expected longer load times on portfolio sites and were usually willing to wait. Not any more.
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Performance engineering is a position found on web teams at large corporations. Their goal is studying loadtimes, server latency, throughput, and memory usage. They tune a website to achieve optimization goals that are within a performance budget. The budget is not specified in dollars but rather milliseconds. Web time is literally money.
Anything that slows down a website is “expensive” since it cuts into the allotted performance budget.
Performance engineering is idealistic – usually working towards the unachievable loadtime of zero seconds. A well-tuned site loads the Home page in under one second.
Before mobile applications and websites came along, no one worried about millisecond loadtimes. Well, some people did – but they weren’t making any news.
The invention of online tools to measure web performance helped produce de facto standards from experts at large-corporate laboratories. Speed is a competitive issue. Speed became more desirable and a hidden asset.
Speed is a website differentiator. Differentiation is part of creative marketing positioning strategy. If two websites have equal offers, customers prefer a 1-second page rather than a heavier 10-second page. People don’t like to wait for services especially on the Internet. Plain and simple.
Our experience is no WordPress theme will produce a sub-second load time straight out-of-the-box. It will be more between 4 and 8 seconds. It requires customization, tweaking, and experimentation to get it slimmed down. Few web designers will do this extra work to deliver quality.
Is website optimization even significant for small businesses? Absolutely. More and more small business customers use phones and tablets to find, compare, and locate services. Slow wireless connections make optimization a necessity. If a site doesn’t fit and is slow on a phone screen, it’s immediately considered “old and obsolete.” It implies you’re business may be apathetic, uncaring, and behind the times.
Times change but speed is as critical as ever. Because of mobile phones, we’ve stepped back to the years of dialup modem connections. But today’s users still expect mobile or responsive sites to be just as fast as wired, desktop browsers.
What we show you in this case study is how you can be a common-sense performance engineer and make your site experience the best.