Web Performance Optimization Resources

I have decided to write posts on Web Performance Optimization (WPO) starting today with some resources to help you get started. What is WPO? I consider it the practice of not just making web pages serve faster but utilizing client-side techniques to make user interactions faster along with their perception of a web application's performance. This encompasses a mutli-faceted approach including server-side, JavaScript, CSS, images and HTML along with overall techniques. It's not limited to the pure technical aspects like code structure but also has an artistic quality that is hard to absolutely measure. For this I will discuss some topics this week that should be common knowledge and others that are new or 'fringe' to common practices. My goal is to raise awareness and hopefully help web applications perform better because you can start applying these solutions and thinking about the tradeoffs and how to make techniques a part of your routine process.

Today I want to start simple and share some resources that have influenced and helped me over the past 5 years. Without question Steve Souders is the center of the WPO universe and that is where I am going to focus today. I can't remember if it was Fall 2007 or Spring 2008 when I had my first encounter with WPO and Steve Souders through his book High Performance Web Sites. I actually got it from a Charlotte Code Camp and have recommended it several times on this blog I think. The book reviews the top 14 reasons or best practices employed by 10 of the top web properties, at the time of writing, that made them go fast or even slower and how you can apply them as well.

High Performance Web Sites

At the time Souders worked for Yahoo and his team created the YSlow Firebug plugin, the first common tool to measure web performance. Today YSlow is not limited to just FireFox there are a variety of browser plugins and even a command line tool. The list has also been expanded to 23 items.

A few years later Souders and his team followed up with Even Faster Web Sites. In this follow up book Souders and his team dive deeper into the deep bowels of the browser. They explore advanced JavaScript and CSS technicals to show how much little things can add up to a slow web application. They also demonstrate how things like proper image sizes and resolutions matter a lot. I remember my initial impression of this book was a mind spinning experience that to be honest scared me trying to grasp some of the concepts. They are all good, many of which should be goals every web developer should strive to achieve.

Even Faster Web Sites

This past summer a new book was releases, Web Performance Day Book. This is a collection of 33 papers, blog posts, etc on various client performance techniques. This book kept me up several hours deep into the night when I purchased it. This book explores so many exciting aspects of WPO such as Souders article on Single Points of Failure (SPOFs), how to measure web performance, CSS selectors, LocalStorage, images optimizations and more. This book should be one of those references you open again and again.

Web Performance Day Book

These books should serve as a good starting point for any web developer to get started with WPO. I am not 100% sure what I am going to write about this week, but I am going to make the effort to share at least 5 more posts this week on web performance optimizations. If you have any comments or resources you would like to add feel free to leave some comments below.

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