Web Site Tuning

I just spent a couple days doing some minor tuning on SQLShare and here are some notes from that effort.

I already had a Google site map published, but it turns out there that is a separate format for videos I had totally missed. I think they already index the stuff pretty well, but it can’t hurt. Details on the format are at http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2009/12/introducing-google-browser-size.html. It’s am XML document, and I spent about 20 minutes trying to finesse a TSQL query to render the XML from a view containing all the elements. Sadly I got close but not quite there, which I think means I need more time with XML shaping. Instead I wrote a quick .Net console app to write out a new file once a day, took about 20 minutes to do that. Runs once a day either way, not worth much  more effort.

From there I started looking at page load times, something that it appears Google is using as part of page ranking (and even if not, pages should load reasonably fast to keep users happy). That lead me to a great Yahoo resource page, which in turn led me to load a Firefox extension called Firebug and from there YSlow, which analyzes a web page and shows you all the places where improvements can be made (some easier than others!). In this case I had some excess Javascript that could be removed, and I didn’t have Gzip compression enabled. Turning gzip on took a little work as there is no checkbox in IIS 6 to do it, have to do it the hard way (IIS 7 has the checkbox).

Google has a similar resource page and their own Firebug add-in called Pagespeed. Very similar to the Yahoo effort, but easy enough to run both to make sure you cover all the bases. Both are free, and incredibly helpful to someone like me who doesn’t live and breath web page optimization.

I also switched to the asynchronous version of the Google Analytics code for visit tracking, supposed to speed up page load slightly and capture more info. Not sure of the performance gain, but no real effort to make the change so it’s worth doing.

I haven’t put it to much use yet, but my friend Jon recommended Google Browser Size, which does a very nice view showing how much of your page can be seen at various resolutions.

Remember that these are potentially just as useful if you’re hosting your own blog, and they might be fun to try at work too. The performance tools are non-destructive and non-invasive, you can run against any web page. Might find a few things to show them it’s not always the data access that’s the problem!