A few years ago, Yahoo released a free benchmarking tool for web pages. Aka Yslow. This tool is measuring what and when loads, during a pageview. It then gives a report about what is slowing down your page and then makes some recommendations on how you can improve the performance of your site.
The perception of “the web”
Well this used to be the big picture in the past. Back then, when the web was something very different from what it is today. Overgeneralizing, for the sake of simplicity, this is how the web was perceived by almost everyone (including web professionals) until recently.
Since then much have changed. First and most important, we don’t talk about “web pages” these days. We now talk about “web apps”, “software in the cloud” and “software as a service”. The web used to be more like digital paper. A way to let people know about your company, a platform for your blogging, at best a place to read your email remotely. But now in 2013 the web is quickly replacing the remnants of desktop software and is battling toe to toe with Java and Objective-C, for domination on mobile devices.
All these concepts were a utopia, no more than five years ago. But today the content is no longer the king. The web is now a democracy. People don’t come to us for content anymore, they create it themselves. Our role as web developers is to empower them, by giving them the tools and functionality to create and interact with their content.
The user may think that our app is slow, or that his connection is having hick-ups or even that his device is slow. Not only we don’t take the full blame for the slow loading of our app, but we eliminate the possibility of the user interacting with a broken version of our application.
A few seconds to load the app is one of the most common things in digital devices in general. People wait for computers to boot up, for youtube videos to load, for Microsoft Word to open, for almost everything. Nobody will go crazy for a couple more seconds of waiting. But there is nothing worse than a user tapping a button which does not work. This is a breach of trust from the user end. If the app didn’t function correctly now, will it lose my data tomorrow ? Should I pick another app instead ?
Even the slow loading experience can be eased, using a simple loader like Gmail did.