Web Performance

The web is changing

The web isn’t what it used to be. The idea of a static website accessed by a desk-bound PC is long gone. We are entering the age of what the World Economic Forum® calls hyper-connectivity in which people, and increasingly things, are constantly interconnected through the web, anytime, anywhere.1 We all expect an exceptional online experience with a dizzying array of media-rich web content and applications, on desktops, smartphones and tablets, using a wide variety of fixed, wireless and mobile network delivery paths.

In this tough, and changing, environment, many businesses are concerned about web performance. They know that, in effect, they are only as good as their last HTTP request response. Slow or failing website content and applications quickly leads to customer dissatisfaction.

Expectations are now measured in milliseconds. According to the Aberdeen Group even a one second delay in web page load time can mean 11% fewer page views and a 7% loss in e-commerce conversions.2 As web design guru Jakob Nielsen says: “Users really care about speed in interaction design”,3 or as Google® put it more bluntly: “Performance is a feature”.4

1 World Economic Forum, Hyperconnected World, (Geneva: World Economic Forum), https://www.weforum.org/projects/hyperconnected-world

2 Aberdeen Group, The Performance of web Applications: Customers are Won or Lost in One Second, (Boston: Aberdeen Group, April 2015), https://www.aberdeen.com/research/5136/ra-performance-web-application/content.aspx

3 Jakob Nielsen, Website Response Times [blog], (Fremont, CA: Nielsen Norman Group, 21 June 2010), https://www.nngroup.com/articles/website-response-times/

4 Google, Optimizing Performance, (Mountainview, CA: Google Inc), https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/performance/index?hl=en

Web performance optimization

What can organizations do to improve their web performance? In the past, designers and coders focused on various hand-coded techniques to improve speeds such as minification of CSS and JavaScript (removing superfluous source code) and setting Expires entity-header fields in HTML.

In today’s environment this is no longer sufficient, and many organizations have turned to automatic systems that perform, on-the-fly, web performance optimization (WPO). The objective is to reduce the number of web-based objects that need to be downloaded – in the jargon ‘reduce roundtrips’ – to deliver the page, to reduce the page size and to generally accelerate the browser’s rendering process.

Various automated techniques are deployed, in real-time, to engineer what is sometimes called front-end optimization (FEO), often with a particular focus on content for mobile and tablet users. These include: automated, real-time minification; adaptive image compression; and domain sharding, in which browser limits on the number of simultaneous connections per domain are circumvented. Use is also made of browser-specific optimizations (e.g. real-time use of specialist image formats such as Google’s WebP). Various caching and page prefetching technologies are also deployed to save round trips and anticipate a user’s likeliest next step. Such approaches have many similarities with aspects of Content Delivery Network (CDN) caching techniques.

An important component of these automated procedures is the use of device characterization, that is being aware of the user’s access device, and its limitations, and automatically adjusting content payload to take account. This is particularly important for mobile phone web access in fluctuating 3G/4G/Wi-Fi signal environments.

Balancing performance with security

Many organizations worry that in the race to meet their customer’s web performance expectations they will have to compromise on security, leaving the back-door open to hackers and malware. activereach’s combined expertise in delivering both web performance and gold standard levels of digital security ensures that our customers don’t have to compromise on either, in even the most complex web and mobile content delivery scenarios. Our solutions combine round-the-clock availability of web-based applications and deep levels of security whilst still delivering on performance and user expectations.

How it Works

Web acceleration for UK business

activereach’s web performance solution draws on a global network of Points of Presence and cloud-based application firewalls to deliver blistering web rendering and video streaming speeds whilst maintaining total protection from malware and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.

Features

Our web performance solution provides:

  • Use of a worldwide server and Point of Presence network to cache and deliver content closer to the user.
  • An integrated suite of intelligent content delivery, acceleration, and optimization technologies that can improve performance by up to five times.
  • Optimized, accelerated content delivery for mobile devices, based on browser, location and network characteristics with continuous, real-time user monitoring.
  • Intelligent, conditional caching and advanced application-oriented offload technologies, including page prefetching.
  • Powerful edge algorithms that can deliver a rapid, initial HTML content response.
  • On-the-fly modification of web resources to adjust CSS and JavaScript for browser-specific speed enhancements, parallel processing and payload reduction.
  • Domain sharding to remove browser-imposed connection limits.
  • Automatic minification processes for HTML, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Adaptive image conversion algorithms to vary compression and Quality of Service (QoS) levels based on real-time network statistics.
  • On-demand, priority image loading for visible areas of web page.
  • Cloud-based DNS solution that improves responsiveness and avoids under-deployment issues with DNS servers.
  • Managed IP acceleration system for improved delivery of rich IP-driven applications such as web video conferencing, remote desktop management and secure file transfers.
  • Real-time user characteristics monitoring and performance-gathering, providing aggregate data about an organization’s real web data traffic.
  • Built-in, cloud-based application firewall technology and security features including DDoS mitigation.

To find out more about web performance solutions from activereach, please call a Networking & Security Specialist on 0845 625 9025.