When developing a property listings website, basic good webmastering skills and attention to detail is important to create a good user experience. Recently a client complained to me that their site seemed slow to them – upon review I found to my horror that the home page was full of bad code and un-optimized images, and that the page topped out at over 800 kilobytes (kb)! Sub-pages weren’t any better. Even on a high-speed connection, downloading close to a megabyte to display a page is going to make a site seem sluggish. Even worse, if the site is at all popular, large page sizes increase bandwidth costs. If you are an executive, you just read the most important sentence in this blog post – there’s money at stake here!
In the example I was discussing earlier, when confronted with the review, the webmaster tried to make excuses – to paraphrase and sum up: “Look, this listings site over here is comparably large”. Sorry, that doesn’t fly. Using the 1000 Watt Consulting list of Web 2.0 search sites and adding additional relevant sites from the Hitwise Top 20, I looked to see how large the home pages of 46 popular real estate search sites are, in terms of compressed kilobytes. The results:
Median size: 156 kb
Average size: 223 kb
The chart below shows a visual representation of the research results. Note that the X axis labels have been removed so as not to embarrass the most ridiculously poorly constructed sites.
Page load size is only one aspect of good design. For a good discussion of design, see Rob Hahn’s blog post and discussion – http://www.notorious-rob.com/2009/06/19/dear-brokers-please-spend-money-on-design/. I could go on for hours talking about all the things one should look for in web applications – I’m sure I’ll come back to some of them in future blog posts.
But for now all I’ll say is (insert shameless plug here) please consider getting a second set of eyes on your web application.
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