Slow Website for Work Sample
Really Slow Joomla Site for Server and Site Demo
I received some links to a couple of really slow Joomla websites today. The links came in an e-mail with promotional offers from a South African web developer (competitor?). I don’t like to knock other developers so I won’t mention the sites or his name. However, the slow page loads for the two sites mentioned as recent samples, and the hosting setup mentioned motivates me to write about my findings…
The developer states “all sites hosted on my own server which only has my customers on it… All customers have the same server benefits of unlimited email accounts, unlimited website traffic, unlimited website storage…” I was intrigued by the ‘own server’, and decided to have a look at the sites.
Over-sized Images and Lots of Java
The first site took about 20 seconds to start displaying anything (blank page for more than 30 seconds) and the total load time exceeded 1.2 minutes. This site consists of no more than a single front page; A banner header image. 3 body images (.png) of 300px x 193px, and less than 100 words of text content. I downloaded one of the images to see the file size – 120kB… The size of these thumbnail images starts to explain why a single page with very little content loaded over 1.2MB of data. JPEG images (at quality 60 – the web standard) would end up around 19kB – or 1/6th the size.
The second website was just as slow.
I cannot help feeling this client would have been served better with a static HTML based website. It would load faster, and unless the company really intends to grow the site, a CMS is a not necessary. I’ve seen thousands of these single page / few page South African websites. Very few local companies starting with these basic sites ever develop any further. Usually they just exist, get no traffic, and are simply there to say “we have a website”.
The hosting setup “my own server” was my real motivation to check these sites… The developer charges a flat rate of R150 /month (about $16.00) for hosting, with “unlimited” traffic and storage. That’s not an excessive amount in South African terms for hosting, with many small providers charging similar amounts.
However, to compare to mainstream hosting providers. Afrihost provides hosting for a small site of this nature for around R30/month ($3.50) and their servers do not take 30 seconds to serve a page. The site mentioned, if hosted on an Afrihost server, will load in under 5 seconds (more likely under 3 seconds) if no caching is used. For R150 month the customer gets over 20GB of data traffic, and if hosted on one of the offshore servers, around 8 times that. The offshore option will also provide faster performance. Yes, offshore hosting does slow response to South African visitors, but the extra time is only about 1 second! This is a long way away from 20 seconds before any content gets displayed.
I will never recommend so-called ‘unlimited’ hosting. There is really no such thing or hosting services would go broke in a very short space of time. In my opinion, buy as much space and data traffic bandwidth as you need, and look to server performance above all else. That way you know what you are getting. More important than storage space and unlimited traffic for a CMS website is server CPU speed, amount of memory available for your site, and the speed of the connection to the rest of the internet (bandwidth).
The size of the only page on the website should really be less than 250kB, including all the images. There’s no need for any Java other than the social buttons. Stylesheets could be combined and the site cached. Static HTML is a better option for this simple single page website – Joomla is total overkill. Hosting shouldn’t cost more than R40 ($3.60) /month, and if static HTML was used – R10.00 /month ($1.20).
Considering the appalling load times, I’d hesitate to put my name to either of the websites mentioned. I also wouldn’t offer a hosting service with such poor performance to paying clients, certainly not for the monthly price mentioned. But then again, I don’t try to sell my services based on up-talk or other dubious sales tactics. Genuine quality and truthful representation of what I offer is the way I work – maybe that’s why I don’t get rich?