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Web 2 Point Slow - Slowcial Communities

Web 2. SlowThe Web is one of the fastest changing media, but one aspect seems to remain unchanged: the Web is slow. Back when I started using the Web in the mid 90ies I either accessed the Internet from a computer in the university or from home with a 14K modem. It was a nuisance to download a page with more than 50KB.

Today, I use a DSL2000 connection to access the Internet, which is theoretically 140 times faster, but it still takes long to download many pages.

Of course, new technology provides for much faster access, but today many pages require more than 500KB of data to be downloaded. There are more images, videos, flash, JavaScript etc., which would have been impossible more than 10 years ago.

Recently, I installed the new YSlow extension for Firefox which is actually a plug-in for the great Firebug extension. On the YSlow website it reads:

YSlow analyzes any web page and generates a grade for each rule and an overall grade. If a page can be improved, YSlow lists the specific changes to be made.

Yesterday, I measured 20 Web 2.0 community websites, that are ranked among the Alexa global top 100 sites, with YSlow. To be included in the test the following conditions had to apply:

  • The site is in English.
  • The front page displays content without the need to be logged in.
  • The site offers community functions such as a forum, sharing content, messaging or others for registered users.

Test Conditions

I used Firefox with the latest versions of Firebug and YSlow. The Firefox pop-up blocker was enabled and I was not logged in to any of the sites. I measured the speed of the start pages, the only exception was Youporn.com, where I needed to hit the enter button before content was displayed.

YSlow Results

The following table displays the websites tested, their Alexa Rank from 10.08.2007, and the YSlow grade from the same date:

Alexa RankWebsiteYSlowgrade

4 sites stand out: yahoo.com and craiglist.org with a grade higher than 90 as well as dailymotion.com and icq.com with a grade less than 50. The average grade is 65,75 (D) and the median is 65.

I also created the following chart to better visualize the measured data:

Web 2 Point Slow - Slowcial Communities


These descriptive statistical data show that successful Web 2.0 communities are pretty slow. This is not necessarily a problem of slow Web servers or Internet connections, but of the amount of data, the number of HTTP requests, too much JavaScript, Flash, images and other media, HTML structure and the time it takes for the browser to render the pages.

I also checked some popular blogs just for curiosity to see that the situation seems even worse in this sector. Maybe I will do a top 20 blogs test in the future. By the way, SEO Expert Blog has a grade of 75C and the fastest site I have measured so far is to no surprise Google.com with a grade of 99A.