Website Improvements #3: Better Performance

During the week since the new website has launched you many have noticed slow page-load times, especially when logged in and saving edits. For the past week the Web Application Development team and our colleagues in Central Systems & Network Services have been working to improve the performance of the site and prevent low performance from overwhelming the servers and causing intermittent outages. We have made several fixes over the past few days that bring us out of the slow-site woods and into sunny pastures of snappy responses.

The first big change was documented by Ian in Website Improvement #1: Reducing home page load time by 80%.

The second big change this week was a fix to prevent Google and other search engines from crawling a particularly slow editing page. Repeated hits to this page were overwhelming one our web-servers and slowing down requests for everyone.

The big change today was to move the databases for other web applications off of the database-server used by Drupal. This change has drastically improved our query-cache hit-rate and been the main factor in speeding up saves and other editing operations.

Travis has reworked how the Athletics-roster images were fetched from their database, improving the image-load times from 11 seconds to 12 milliseconds. The Athletics page loads much faster now.

The last performance improvement this week came from a fix to the access denied page. This fix prevents browsers from periodically falling into a loop of redirects that never ended. Preventing a never-ending stream of redirects gives a better user experience when trying to access a restricted page, as well as leaves more server power available for handling pages that will load successfully.

At this point authenticated users should be experiencing page-load times between 300 milliseconds and 5 seconds for almost all view and edit operations (down from a range of 2-25 seconds). Unauthenticated users should be experiencing page-load times between 20 milliseconds and 3 seconds for all page views. We plan to improve performance even further in the coming weeks, but our hope is that page speed is no longer a major impediment to performing needed tasks.

Thank you to our whole community for your patience while we worked through these growing pains.

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  1. Pingback: Website Improvements #4: Previews « Library & Information Services

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