Do Your Pages Download Fast?
by Bob McElwain
You can answer this question yourself. It is easy to do, and
we will get to it. First, let's be clear about what fast means.
A number of people have said my pages download fast. Some
have given numbers. But what do they mean? I recently read
pages should download in 4 seconds. An expert site designer
reported my pages downloaded within 10-15 seconds. A marketing
guru gave times from 8 to 10 seconds. Yet on my system, it takes
about 20 seconds.
Why are qualified people reporting different speeds as the
maximum acceptable? The difference lies in our individual
connections to the Web. While the modem, disk, and CPU speed of
your system are factors, the route traveled to your ISP (Internet
Service Provider) and its performance are also critical. An
overloaded ISP can really slow things down. Then there is the
speed at which a server can deliver information.
Back to the question, there is only one way to answer it.
While the opinions of others are important, the numbers they give
are not, because all are trapped by the limitations of their
equipment and ISP.
The only way to obtain good data is to delete your cache
files. Your browser will not take the time to download anything
already on your disk, even if you click Reload. Find your cache
directory and delete all files in it. Now download your home
page and note the time.
Given graphics repeated from page to page, such as navigation
buttons, times to download subsequent pages will be faster, and
need not be considered. It is the time to download the first
page with no files in cache that matters, for this is what new
visitors will experience.
Next, check the web for sites similar to yours. (If you have
been to the site, remember to delete all cache files.) Check the
download speed and compare it to yours.
A common reason for differences in times is the number and
size of graphics. Ignore results for pages containing more or
larger graphics than you use, for they really slow things down.
If you find that pages similar to yours in size and graphic
content download as yours do, you are fine, regardless of the
Why? Because all surfers are trapped by their system and
ISP. All will have become accustomed to a speed they feel is
adequate. You can do nothing to improve this speed, beyond being
sure you are using a fast host. Thus if the download speed for
your site compares favorably with that of similar sites, your
visitors will be content.
If your download speed is greater than those of equivalent
sites, take a hard look at your host. A server often makes money
by selling more capacity than it has. Then your visitors will
always find things moving too slowly. (If you need a fast
server, consider pair.com or jumpline.com; I use both and find
their delivery speeds to be excellent.)
So ignore all those numbers given about maximum download
times, because the people giving them are also trapped by their
gear and ISP. Compare the performance of your pages to similar
pages. If yours are as good or better, all is well.
Web marketing and consulting since 1993
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