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The Secret Weapons of the

AOL Optimization Team

Dave Artz
Secret Weapon #1:
Apache Mods
4
sec.

2.5
sec.
modconcat
http://code.google.com/p/modconcat/

Once installed, lets you reference any CSS or JS


file on your server like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/optional/path/??
filename1.js,subdirectory/filename2.js,filename3.js

Honors the cache headers of the youngest file


modjsmin
http://code.google.com/p/modjsmin/

Once installed, all JS files are minified on


demand, leaving commented source intact

Ported from Doug


Crockford’s C library
292 KB
40 KB
86% smaller
Original 1.5 sec. faster
moddims
http://code.google.com/p/moddims/

Once installed, lets you reference any image on


your server like this:
http://www.yourdomain.com/dims/resize/320x240/quality/90/
http://www.yourdomain.com/images/full-quality-image.jpg

Manipulate image compression levels on the fly

Resize large full quality images to thumbnails


Secret Weapon #2:
Friendly Iframes
The Friendly Iframe
Quarantines blocking JS ads in their own little
bubble so content can continue rendering

When finished loading, text ads are copied to the


parent and pick up CSS styles

Ad creatives can expand out of the frame without


any cross-domain issues

Simple demo of the technique:


http://www.artzstudio.com/files/fif-demo/
Secret Weapon #3:
“On Demand”
Solutions
“Morphing”

môrf·ing verb

1. Using placeholder HTML elements that have


all the data necessary to transform into
another HTML element (typically heavier in
byte size) on demand
ClickTale found that 78% of user page views
do not reach the bottom of the page

Source: ClickTale Blog, Unfolding the Fold


http://blog.clicktale.com/2006/12/23/unfolding-the-fold/
Keep your eyes on the Net panel...
Sonar

Solution for detecting if an object is visible (on


or near) the screen, and then doing something
Example usage:
sonar.add({obj:”obj_id”, px : 200, callback : function(){...}});

See http://www.artzstudio.com/files/sonar/
Secret Weapon #4:
ESR
(Executive Speed Report)
Executive Speed Report

Provides full transparency on the performance


of AOL websites with a competitive focus

Products and pages are “taggable” so people


can get a view of what they care about

“Self serve” lets anyone manage the URL sets,


ensuring the right pages get measured
Secret Weapon #5:
Auditron
“This is wrong.”
-Lucius Fox, The Dark Knight
Our Secret Weapons

Apache Mods (dims, concat, jsmin)

Friendly Iframe

“On Demand” Solutions (morphing, sonar)

ESR (Executive Speed Report)

Auditron
Top Secret Weapon:
Beacon
Beacon
Loads asynchronously as the first JS object on the
page; small unobtrusive library (2K)

Internally used to track page view, visit, clicks,


time spent, etc.

Sends load time of the page back on clicks


(window.onload time - beacon initialization time)

Currently does not include server response times;


purely front end load time measurement
Our First Experiment
Take a sample of visits

For each visit, compute the average load time


across the pages viewed

Break the visits into 10 groups (percentiles)


based on the average load time

Examine page views per visit of each group,


from fastest to slowest
AOL Autos
Average Page Views per Visit
8

4
10th 20th 30th 40th 50th 60th 70th 80th 90th 100th

Visit Load Time Percentile*

*10th is fastest 10% of the visit sample, 100th is slowest 10%


AOL Money & Finance
Average Page Views per Visit
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
10th 20th 30th 40th 50th 60th 70th 80th 90th 100th

Visit Load Time Percentile*

*10th is fastest 10% of the visit sample, 100th is slowest 10%


AOL Shopping
Average Page Views per Visit
4.5

3.5

3
10th 20th 30th 40th 50th 60th 70th 80th 90th 100th

Visit Load Time Percentile*

*10th is fastest 10% of the visit sample, 100th is slowest 10%


Moviefone
Average Page Views per Visit
7.5

6.5

5.5

4.5

3.5
10th 20th 30th 40th 50th 60th 70th 80th 90th 100th

Visit Load Time Percentile*

*10th is fastest 10% of the visit sample, 100th is slowest 10%


Conclusions

Visits experiencing the fastest load times


delivered us the most page views per visit

More study is needed to determine why one


site’s “profile” differs from the other

Dave needs feedback on the methodology, and


other studies to do with this data
Done.
AOL e-mail:
david.artz@corp.aol.com

Personal e-mail:
dave@artzstudio.com

Twitter & AIM:


artzstudio

Blog:
artzstudio.com