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High Performance Web Sites

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Want your web site to display more quickly? This book presents 14 specific rules that will cut 25% to 50% off response time when users request a page. Author Steve Souders, in his job as Chief Performance Yahoo!, collected these best practices while optimizing some of the most-visited pages on the Web. Even sites that had already been highly optimized, such as Yahoo! Search and the Yahoo! Front Page, were able to benefit from these surprisingly simple performance guidelines.

The rules in High Performance Web Sites explain how you can optimize the performance of the Ajax, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, and images that you've already built into your site -- adjustments that are critical for any rich web application. Other sources of information pay a lot of attention to tuning web servers, databases, and hardware, but the bulk of display time is taken up on the browser side and by the communication between server and browser. High Performance Web Sites covers every aspect of that process.

Each performance rule is supported by specific examples, and code snippets are available on the book's companion web site. The rules include how to:

Make Fewer HTTP Requests
Use a Content Delivery Network
Add an Expires Header
Gzip Components
Put Stylesheets at the Top
Put Scripts at the Bottom
Avoid CSS Expressions
Make JavaScript and CSS External
Reduce DNS Lookups
Minify JavaScript
Avoid Redirects
Remove Duplicates Scripts
Configure ETags
Make Ajax Cacheable
If you're building pages for high traffic destinations and want to optimize the experience of users visiting your site, this book is indispensable.

"If everyone would implement just 20% of Steve's guidelines, the Web would be adramatically better place. Between this book and Steve's YSlow extension, there's reallyno excuse for having a sluggish web site anymore."

-Joe Hewitt, Developer of Firebug debugger and Mozilla's DOM Inspector

"Steve Souders has done a fantastic job of distilling a massive, semi-arcane art down to a set of concise, actionable, pragmatic engineering steps that will change the world of web performance."

-Eric Lawrence, Developer of the Fiddler Web Debugger, Microsoft Corporation

170 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2007

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Steve Souders

6 books16 followers

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5 stars
293 (42%)
4 stars
244 (35%)
3 stars
124 (17%)
2 stars
20 (2%)
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10 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
Profile Image for Katie Cunningham.
Author 10 books21 followers
August 19, 2012
This is a must-read for anyone that ever touches a website. There's tips for front-end people, back-end people, and ops. Even the introduction blew my mind.

This will make you want to tear down every website you've ever built and make it as efficient as possible, even if it only gets four views a month.
Profile Image for Greenicicle.
27 reviews
February 28, 2011
Need-to-know knowledge about we site performance, in a very compact form. On the other hand, much of this book has been distilled into the YSLOW tool suite, and a thorough sift through its documentation and some experimentation make reading the book kind of redundant.
Profile Image for Bill.
217 reviews75 followers
September 15, 2019
Hasn't aged as much as I thought. Still a concise primer on best practices for serving web content. Luckily most of this has become standard. Extra star for the screenshots of major websites, such as Amazon.com. A time capsule and funny because they got the lowest grade and the heaviest payload. Times have changed.
Profile Image for Garrett.
8 reviews
August 16, 2022
This book was clearly written for a different time in the history of technology. A lot has changed in the last 15 years... The basics are still the same (good ole HTML, CSS, and JS still dominate) so for building static websites a lot of the advice here still makes sense. If you need to be concerned about low bandwidth users (or even high bandwidth users), by all means you should follow caching best practices. But there are a lot of new tools that will help reduce many of these pain points.

All that said, it was an easy read and an interesting view of the internet from days gone by. Modern bundlers, minifiers, and service workers can alleviate many of concerns mentioned in this book, but you'll have to wait for High Performance Web Apps to be published before you can learn about them. Pass this book over if you want some advice for 2022.
2 reviews
June 15, 2017
Excellent introduction to topic. Easy to read, informative, and indeed, adopting just couple rules from presented in this book ,could save a lot of bandwidth of your users.

In my opinion, essential lecture for an beginners on web related career paths, since which I began thinking seriously about performance even as a junior front dev.

I would highly recommend
232 reviews
January 5, 2023
An excellent resource covering the basics of frontend page performance. However the contents and examples are quite dated (I believe most come from 2009 or earlier). I would have preferred a larger book with more discussion about recent changes in frontend performance and more about non-standard pages.
Profile Image for Joe.
42 reviews6 followers
November 12, 2017
I read this book back when it was new. Classic. Souders pioneered much of the field of front end performance.
Profile Image for Ken Murphy.
77 reviews
June 4, 2018
I read this one a while ago. It has good fundamentals and explains the why of a lot of the more modern techniques / frameworks.
2 reviews
January 7, 2020
This book is good for beginner or intermediate web developers, or a backend developer that isn't knowledgeable on web browsers.
Profile Image for Eoin Corcoran.
2 reviews
October 12, 2021
Much of this advice is fairly out of date or considered basic by now, save yourself the time and just skim the chapter titles.
Profile Image for Natasha Holme.
Author 5 books59 followers
March 11, 2017
Despite being written in 2007, the techniques outlined in this book are largely still relevant ten years later. Website performance problems and solutions are separated out into chapters of their own. Steve Souders illustrates the problems with concrete examples taken from the top ten websites in 2007 (which, interestingly, are mostly 2017's top websites: Amazon, Google, eBay, Wikipedia, etc.). He illustrates further with pages on his own site, which he has engineered to perform badly and to perform optimally. A worthwhile, educational read.
Profile Image for Eric Phetteplace.
347 reviews63 followers
July 29, 2012
A good overview of building performant websites, especially the first few chapters. Souders' book is essential primarily because no one else has published a competing work that does such a thorough overview of web performance. I particularly liked the focus on the network layer as that's the piece I know the least about, so learning about caching & HTTP headers was very useful.
Some the advice may be a bit outdated; the number of parallel downloads allowed in browsers has certainly changed & "avoid CSS expressions" sounds silly when CSS3 has almost entirely replaced them. Also, some advice is more targeted at large enterprises (e.g. ETags, split downloads across multiple servers) & are less practical/valuable for the small environments where I work. The final chapter, analyzing several large websites, was useless to me. All of these sites have probably changed drastically in the past few years in any case.
Profile Image for Tami.
Author 35 books68 followers
October 9, 2008
I remember when I first started using the Internet. Dial ups were extremely slow at the time, so I’d type in a URL, then go make a sandwich. By the time I came back, hopefully the page would be loaded.

Today, we expect more. Often if a page takes more than a few moments to load, I don’t bother. I tend to equate professional with quick. If a site doesn’t load quickly or if parts of the page are slow, I naturally assume that the information provided might be as shabbily compiled. I simply move onto a different page.

High Performance Web Sites looks at how we can make our own websites load more quickly. I was surprised at how many different little things that can be done beyond optimizing graphics. Most of these things only take a few little nips and tucks and none were beyond my novice level of ability.
Profile Image for Mohammad Abuali.
23 reviews
March 13, 2016
Great book on building websites that follow best practices for performance. This book reminds us how important it is to understand how the web works so that we work with it -not against it- it all terms, including performance. The book has one chapter about best practices for Ajax. Ajax back then -in 2007 when the book was published- was a relatively new trend. I hope that his other book "Even Faster Web Sites" would further elaborate on this part.
At some points in the book, I felt like I already know this, some parts where just common sense, however, some other tips were really tricky that I don't think I would have figured them out myself.
Profile Image for Caitlin (Ayashi).
210 reviews3 followers
August 4, 2015
I think by now this book is getting a bit dated (literally asked myself "wtf is a css expression?") but it's well written and still has a lot of relevant stuff. I honestly didn't really know much about http headers before reading this, so I learned a lot about that.

As others have mentioned, a lot of these specific points are covered if you just run the YSlow tool. Personally though, I like that this book not only directly shows examples to prove that one solution is faster than another, but also explains exactly why. Of course there's reasons behind making certain choices but it's good to understand the reasoning behind them.
Profile Image for Mikey Cooper.
26 reviews12 followers
February 22, 2013
An excellent read for anyone creating web sites. While a bit dated now, the background information and advice is nonetheless a must have for optimizing performance. While many people now use things like bundling, CSS sprites, and script placement to increase performance, they're often doing so without understanding why it helps. This book helps fill in those gaps and adds in a wealth of information about browser caching, headers, proxy considerations, etc. It's well worth the few hours it'll take to get through this quick read.
199 reviews4 followers
November 2, 2014
I've got to admit that although I knew a good number of these suggestions, there were a couple that I did not know at all. Yes, YSlow does tell you the 'how to make it better' part, this book gives you more details on what happens behind the screens for some of the rules.

The other reason I liked this book was because this is pretty much the one place where I have to come to get all the information. I added a couple of optimizations to my website while I was reading this book myself.

All-in-all, well worth the time reading it.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
48 reviews6 followers
July 30, 2008
I would probably give this book a higher rating except that the information contained is already so available online, and in the author's invaluable YSlow FireBug plugin. I had hoped for lengthier explanations beyond what is already found online, and was surprised by the only ~120 pages of the book.

That said, the information contained is very accurate and useful. It is nice to have a hard copy of the data found in YSlow.
24 reviews4 followers
December 25, 2010
Amazing! a must read book for all web developers and a real eye opener on front end performance.

This book suggests a lot of solutions to real- world problem issues. This book with "High performance Web Sites" recommendations will have huge impact on the performance of any Web Site.

It's really a very interesting reading, from the first to the last page!

Thanks to everybody who contributed in writing this great book
Profile Image for Jakub.
242 reviews7 followers
June 6, 2010
If you've ever made even a small webpage, you'd be happy to read that book. Very straight to the point advices, with hard numbers and real-life proofs. Of course this kind of knowledge is ephemeral, as things evolve and change from day to day - but that makes it even more important for you, to read it as soon as possible.
183 reviews5 followers
July 12, 2010
An excellent resource on how to wring better performance out of a website.

Souders provides a series of ideas and approaches based upon his experiences. Further, I found it well written and highly readable. He knows how to present ideas while not dragging the reader into a morass of irrelevant detail.

I highly recommend that anyone responsible for a website read this book.
24 reviews4 followers
December 25, 2010
a real eye-opener and tremendous shift in web optimization. Very practical, straight to the point and valuable. You cannot consider yourself a web developer if you haven't read this book and totally understand it. You can read the whole book over the week end, go and get it :)

You think you're an expert in web development! wait till you read this book!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews

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