High Performance Websites

Author: Steve Souders



Publisher: O'Reilly

Reviewed by: Peter Corlett

High Performance Web Sites is a book about tuning web sites to make them load faster. It presents fourteen rules to follow to make a web site load faster and is essentially a dead-tree version of the Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site page on the Yahoo! Developer Network. But now you've read the web site, do you need the book?

The book's manuscript quite clearly started off with a copy of that web page, in places using the same sections and structure. But the book is some 168 pages long, and that web page is just six when printed out. There is obviously much more extra content in the book.

The usual O'Reilly front and back matter account for a dozen or so pages, including the famous colophon telling us a bit about the greyhound pictured on the front.

The rest of the material expands substantially on the rules, and more importantly explains where optimisations will not work. For example, the web site suggests using data: URLs, but only the book tells you that Internet Explorer doesn't actually support it. The book also covers how to reconfigure Apache to assist in the performance improvements.

One final and important feature of the book is plenty of examples and actual performance figures based on the top ten websites. If one has to justify spending effort on performance tweaks, being able to point a client at hard numbers for prestigious web sites from a published book is a killer application for the book itself.

So, do you need the book? Perhaps not, if you've got the time to follow the links from the website, trawl forums, and repeat a lot of the research. But for the approximate £12 price from either Amazon or O'Reilly directly, I suggest buying the book if you have an interest in this kind of web site tuning.