Is the site slow?

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Webmaster
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In Mountain Chen IS Mountain Chen they said the site is slow. Now. WWW used to mean "World Wide Wait" so there's a certain amount of we-can-only-improve-this-so-much about the problem. Especially when you think of the complexity of the system between you and the web server visforvoltage.net is housed on.

In any case I'm interested in more data on what you think "the site is slow" means, or if you think the site is sufficiently fast. We're always considering whether it's worthwhile to upgrade to a better server and so far the current arrangement has seemed sufficient.

The data I have comes from the Google Webmaster Tools sitemap service. This site submits a sitemap to google and other search engines, and this helps them know what pages exist on the site, when they've changed, etc, so the search engines can better index the pages on the site. Google has the best reporting based on the sitemap data, and one bit is the "Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds)" while googlebot is crawling the site.

This download speed is the same for all the websites I have hosted on this server. The speeds reported by Google for visforvoltage.org are: maximum: 2005 average: 1150 minimum: 730 (in milliseconds)

The only comparison I have is from hosting two sites on my dreamhost account. For visforvoltage.net the site is hosted on a "virtual private server" whereas my dreamhost account is a typical shared hosting account. The same time spent downloading pages for davidherron.com is: maximum: 17614 average: 5338 minimum: 1905

Clearly "slow" is relative based on what the server specifics are. Dreamhost shares their servers over more users than does the hosting provider I use for visforvoltage.net and the other sites I'm hosting.

This measure, "Time spent downloading a page", is probably directly related to your perception of "the site is slow". It's well known in computer user interface design that slow response after a user action triggers the "slow" statement. The other thing I notice in the data is the trend in the chart Google draws is show the site is responding more slowly today than it was in June. Clearly visforvoltage.org is getting busier and busier all the time. I'm having trouble keeping up with this site. That's got to translate to heavier load on the server.

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George J Jones Jr
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Re: Is the site slow?

Thank you David for the information, a perfect introduction to some future questions we will latter be asking members our V is for Voltage Community.
Our Domain will expire 11/18/2007, of course we plan to renew it and hopefully renew one of our sister domains at the same time.

Best Regards,
George J. Jones, Jr.
Domain Registrant/Co-Owner
visforvoltage.org
georgejjonesjr@visforvoltage.org

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

For its size, this forum is very slow.


# Domain name Size Load time Average Speed per KB
01 www.visforvoltage.org/forum/ 29.29 KB 2.05 seconds 0.07 seconds
02 www.basestationzero.com/xtreme 53.42 KB 0.66 seconds 0.01 seconds

http://www.iwebtool.com/speed_test

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

I'm not sure what comparison I'm supposed to draw from the basestationzero site. I could not find a "forum" on that site, and it appears your site is implemented with a custom page management system that might be very close to a static page website.

This site is a completely dynamic page website built using the Drupal content management system. There's a lot going on under the covers of every page request. I didn't mention this earlier, but I do have one site on this server where the pages are a mix of straight .html pages and simple .php pages, and Google says the page download rates are: maximum: 842 average: 284 minimum: 161 Clearly there's a huge difference between dynamic pages and static pages. It's the same server, just very different implementation between the sites. The flexibility of this site does come from the dynamic page generation.

I suspect you're offering an apples and oranges comparison. And I think the important thing is whether the response time on this site is fast enough. I tried out the site you mention.. and tried loading it a couple times, one of which gave me a time over 3 seconds which is their threshold for saying "your site is too slow". But this measurement service you suggested only does a one-time measurement, whereas the data I'm quoting from Google is an average over thousands of requests over the last 90 days.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

I didn't use my forum because there's pretty much nothing on it. I used the largest page of my site to try and make it more fair.


# Domain name Size Load time Average Speed per KB
01 basestationzero.com/xtreme 53.41 KB 0.68 seconds 0.01 seconds
02 visforvoltage.org/forum 29.13 KB 2.94 seconds 0.10 seconds
03 basestationzero.com/forums 22.33 KB 0.37 seconds 0.02 seconds
04 codingforums.com 45.23 KB 0.57 seconds 0.01 seconds
05 candlepowerforums.com/vb/index.php 83.09 KB 1.19 seconds 0.01 seconds
06 netbusinesstalk.com/ 59.48 KB 0.49 seconds 0.01 seconds
07 forums.offtopic.com/ 247.57 KB 1.03 seconds 0 seconds

Slow is slow - no matter if it's a 3 cylinder or a V-10, if it doesn't get down the ¼-mile before the others, I'm calling it. :)

Look at OffTopic, the largest and busiest forum I know of, with the initial page of 247k! One-third the load time of VV.

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

eep... So, firebug has this feature to show you the load time of the page and it breaks it down to all the individual files that are loaded and the load time for each. To make a long story short you may see an improvement (or may not). At some point I'd turned the caching completely off, and have turned it back on, and for good measure there's a feature to "compress and combine" the .css files. It should help a bit but it won't be perfect.

The performance comparisons with other sites is interesting.. but the real question is, again, is the current speed of this site too slow. The question is not whether this site is slower than other sites. Those other sites may be faster than they need to be.

And, to continue your analogy... when you're driving down city streets, it doesn't matter whether you're driving a V-10 or a 3 cylinder, you're going to get to the next stop light at the same speed. }:)

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

I thought a bit of research might be useful... There are expert opinions available through Yahoogle on this...

I found some old advice from Jakob Nielson saying 10 seconds load time is an acceptable threshold. But he made this statement in ?2000? when 56KB modems were still all the rage. Today things are a bit different..

On http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum116/41.htm is a more recent discussion.. with many saying 2-3 seconds is a more appropriate threshold. One poster makes a good point that you have "7 seconds" to make your case to someone to stay on the site, and if 6 of those seconds are spent loading the page then you only have 1 second left. BTW, this statement: " Many sites are resource intensive and generated dinamically using PHP, Perl or any other scripting language + using a database" very much applies to this site. One idea I take from this is ... a couple months ago when we switched to the current theme, the chosen theme is TABLE based, and TABLE based themes might have a longer time before the browser properly renders the page. I know that I'm seeing the page dance around a bit before it settles into place.

Acceptable Response Times is a point by point analysis of another article, and has some good points. A couple years ago I studied up on GUI responsiveness, and I know about the analysis of cognitive thresholds which computer-human-interface specialists have developed over the years. For an example in a typical GUI application, the user will perceive slowness if the time between clicking a button and and the response happens beyond 50 milliseconds after the click. Web pages are different animals and it seems people have different expectations over the acceptable response time to clicking on a link. The same site offers The Miller Response-Time Test and discusses research on hypertext systems (pre WWW) where it was found 1/4 second response is the threshold, and discusses other research saying 1 second is a suitable response threshold for the WWW. Either of those times are a pretty high bar to meet.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

Don't get me wrong, I really don't care that this site takes 2.94 seconds to load. I've got 18 tabs open on two windows and three other programs running - if I get impatient, I can focus on something else and come back to this page 3 seconds later.

I know code can hang, especially if you're pulling it from another site like Google AdSense or if you're hotlinking (which you're not). For a site of this size (I'm talking about each page, all code and images) I would expect it to load at half the time. I also know that tables make things seem to load slower because everything inside a table has to load before the table is displayed. Again that's fine, I run tables, divs, spans with classes and ids switched, no xhtml or doctypes or "valid" anything... from what others have told me, my site shouldn't even load up never mind be allowed on the internet.

If you did not personally design these forums then I wouldn't worry about it. But if you've added a lot of extra bloated code into it (I'm sure you have), then someone needs to take each one of those and thin it out to the smallest possible area. Viewing the source, first thing that I see is this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/misc/drupal.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/misc/collapse.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/modules/smileys/smileys.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/modules/imce/imce_set_inline.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/modules/quicktags/quicktags.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/?q=quicktags">
<script type="text/javascript" src="/misc/textarea.js"></script>

That's a call to the server each and every time for those. The more times the browser has to fetch a JS's src, the longer it takes to load. Analogy: it's like going into a store to buy bread, coming out then going back in to buy mustard, coming out then going back in to buy bologna, coming out then going back in to buy napkins... :D LOL!

BUT, if you didn't design this forum then it's not your problem.

Analogy #2:

Teacher: What is 2 plus 2?

...Student #1: In order to arrive at the correct answer to the problem, it is required to assume that there are two pair of each object and that both objects are equally the same.... blah, blah...

-or-

...Student #2: Four!

Which answer would you rather have? Both students will eventually come up with the exact same answer, but if we all have to listen to the first one, the class is going to fall asleep. ;)

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andrew
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Re: Is the site slow?

I don't know about arcticfox's comparison, I seem to get quite different times. I'm on DSL now, and will test again when I get home which has a cable setup which should be faster.

I'll load the pages 3 times using browser reload which I think reloads everything and average. I don't know the size but it is probably similar to what articfox posted unless the ads made it change somewhat:

http://www.basestationzero.com/xtreme/ 7.64s, 6.75s, 7.7s avg: 7.36s

http://visforvoltage.org/forum/ 6.38s, 5.33s, 8.62s avg: 6.78s

forums.offtopic.com 6.25s, 6.75s, 8.22s avg: 7.07s

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

I didn't design the software, it's built by the Drupal community.. but as the website admin etc this is my issue. The issue with downloading lots of little files was worse.. there's a dozen .css files which were also being loaded, but in the cache configuration they have an option for combining and compressing .css files so now it's only loading one file instead of a dozen. There isn't a similar option for .js files, unfortunately.

Something I don't understand is... these files should be downloaded only once. But firebug shows them being loaded on each pageload. The files in question are at a fixed URL and do not change, so they should be downloaded only the first time visiting the site. Hurm..

We won't ditch the google analytics.. but I think we could ditch the Snap thing which does that popup widget on external links. It's a cool feature but it's adding to the work required to render pages.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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George J Jones Jr
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Re: Is the site slow?

Well this is the first time I've heard anything about a speed issue, and I'm not sure how important it really is.
I know we would all like a Vectrix, but there are reasons we don't have one. How important is speed I really don't know.
Our nearest competition is slightly faster.
Size Load time (secs) Average Speed per KB
nearest competition 37.85 KB 0.73 seconds 0.02
visforvoltage.org/ 29.32 KB 1.09 seconds 0.04 seconds
So it might be a low priority planning item right now, we have more important issues to deal with right now.

Best Regards,
George J. Jones, Jr.
Domain Registrant/Co-Owner
visforvoltage.org
georgejjonesjr@visforvoltage.org

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

Well I tried this myself this time. I shut down the firewall, and AV/SpyWare programs and upped the wireless connection to 54Mbps (is usually at around 5.5Mbps because of three people using the same wireless connection and one VoIP). Using the Fasterfox Page Load Timer with PreFetching turned OFF, here are the results with a hard refresh:

visforvoltage.org/forum/
11.844
11.110
7.657
8.625
9.516

Google.com
1.470
1.235
1.766
1.266
1.422

BaseStationZero, xtreme
6.735
8.141
8.780
8.703
8.375

BaseStationZero, xtreme2 (new design)
5.470
6.547
4.578
5.531
5.297

George J Jones Jr: Personally I wouldn't put any priority on it. It loads fine for what it is; no one here is complaining. It is slower than what it should be, but not to the point of anyone other than webmasters noticing it. The original topic came from the post from Chen... I'm guessing in China. Everything runs a lot slower when you're loading it up from the other side of the planet. :)

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George J Jones Jr
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Re: Is the site slow?

Thank you, but now we will keep a eye on it. Our goal has always been to be the best, or damn close to it.

Best Regards,
George J. Jones, Jr.
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visforvoltage.org
georgejjonesjr@visforvoltage.org

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amp_head
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Re: Is the site slow?

A site is only as fast as the server it is hosted on. :) This site does not seem slow to me.

Matt

andrew
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Re: Is the site slow?

Repeating the above test, now at home. The comparison between this and my last test is not entirely accurate because 1. I don't have a page load time on this browser, and 2. I found out how to override cache in reload (which is ctrl+shift+R in firefox). Using a stop watch:

http://www.basestationzero.com/xtreme/ 3.79s, 3.72s, 3.70, avg: 3.74s

http://visforvoltage.org/forum/ 3.37s, 3.19s, 3.10s, avg: 3.22s

http://forums.offtopic.com 2.14s, 1.93s, 2.06s, avg: 2.04

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

I want a recount! How can you [Ctrl][Shift][R]{refresh} and operate a stopwatch? :)

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andrew
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Re: Is the site slow?

I am superman =P

did the google test: http://www.google.com .51s, .50s, .43s avg: 0.48s

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

I did some digging and worked out how to turn on compression. e.g. the "Recent" page ends up at about 60kb and compressed it becomes 8kb. I still don't understand why the .js files aren't being loaded from the browser cache, and that seems to be the biggest piece of slowness. I asked on the drupal.org forums and they suggested the using YSlow extension for firefox, which measures a set of website speed recommendations published by Yahoo. Turning on compression caused this sites score to go from a D to a C...

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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davew
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Re: Is the site slow?

Quote:

In any case I'm interested in more data on what you think "the site is slow" means, or if you think the site is sufficiently fast. We're always considering whether it's worthwhile to upgrade to a better server and so far the current arrangement has seemed sufficient.

I use the site regularly, and it seems perfectly fine. The only slowness I notice is with the software. If a page has 50 or 60 entries Firefox has quite the tussle with Drupal before the page settles down and I can read it. Cutting down the number of comments per page would help. Because so many comments on a single topic are rare I'm not suggesting a change. As a matter of fact a topic reaching 50 or 60 comments is generally a sign that it has descended to a level of banality that is not worth reading any more.

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andrew
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Re: Is the site slow?

davew,
ya I'm sure if you did a study on internet forums you'd find a threshold point or something around that many comments. But anyway, you should be able to set the topics that display per page, just look under the topic post. At least it displays the options for me...

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ILBCNU
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Re: Is the site slow?

I am not sure if everyone is aware of the options at the top of the page. There are Comment viewing options which each user can select, one of which is the number of post per page as shown here.
comment_viewing_options.gif
Remember to click the "Save Settings" button.

Hope this helps someone,
ILBCNU
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Moderators are dedicated volunteer V Team members who help keep your V Forums running smoothly and provide Forum Support.

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reikiman
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Re: Is the site slow?

If a page has 50 or 60 entries Firefox has quite the tussle with Drupal before the page settles down and I can read it.

There is a threshold before a thread gets split over multiple pages. It used to be '60' the default out-of-the-box setting. However we had so much trouble with a particular thread that went well into its second page that I increased the threshold to 150, and at the same time enabled those controls which Chas and others referred to.

I think the dancing around you're describing comes from using a TABLE based layout. If you recall the moderator debate a couple months ago over the site theme, we made a switch from a CSS based layout theme to this current TABLE based one. Supposedly TABLE based themes are harder for the browser to render, and you could do some comparison between this site and http://www.7gen.com which is using the CSS based layout and is running the same software and hosted on the same machine. Of course we shifted away from that layout because it doesn't properly display pages that have wide content.

As a matter of fact a topic reaching 50 or 60 comments is generally a sign that it has descended to a level of banality that is not worth reading any more.

I tend to agree.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

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ArcticFox
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Re: Is the site slow?

Quoted: I am not sure if everyone is aware of the options at the top of the page.

Wow! I forgot about that. I've mine set a 300, changing it to 10 makes a whole lot of difference - a seven second pageload down to 1.5 - thanks!

www.BaseStationZero.com

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