Tag Archives: sites

BOOK REVIEW: High Performance Web Sites


Last year I reviewed Even Faster Web Sites, an eye-opening book that revealed some website performance tricks “hidden in plain sight,” due to their simplicity and reliance on everyday aspects of web technology. I learned this book is actually a sequel to another highly-regarded book, High Performance Web Sites, so I had to review it.

High Performance Web Sites is extremely similar to its successor. Steve Souders authored both books and has the same analytical, left-brained approach to measuring performance and capturing best practices in simple rules. Thorough testing is conducted and reported, and the tests can still be duplicated at stevesouders.com, three years after the book’s publication. There’s nothing as illuminating as conducting tests on your own, with Steve’s clear guidance.

Despite its age, High Performance Web Sites is still very pertinent because it improves performance on essential things such as reducing HTTP requests, structuring external script and stylesheet requests to keep data moving and other very basic tricks. This book is even more simple than its successor and deals strictly with the basics. This makes it a very helpful book for all web designers at all skill levels, which in itself is hard to do.

I don’t give out perfect ratings very often, but I did for Even Faster Web Sites and I will do the same for High Performance Web Sites. The book is clearly written, very effective, almost unprecedented in its usefulness for all designers, and thoroughly researched. The only thing I wish is that it were longer.

High Performance Web Sites
Steve Souders
Published by O’Reilly
Rating: 10/10

BOOK REVIEW: Even Faster Web Sites


It’s rare for a book to catch me off-guard with unique techniques, but Even Faster Web Sites seems to have done it. The book is written about the topic of website performance and optimization, which grants users a faster, leaner browser experience and less hassle with slow-loading pages and images. I had always known about image optimization tools in Photoshop and coding techniques that help make pages smaller and faster but Even Faster Web Sites surprised me with tactics and techniques that are a level above.

First, a strong pedigree

The book’s stable of authors is enough to make web designers take notice. The main author is Steve Souders, who works on web performance at Google and created the Firebug extension YSlow. Some chapters are written by other authors including:

This is a large group of authors from some of the most recognizable companies in the web technology industry. The books such authors put out often stand out, such as Web Form Design by Luke Wroblewski. The writing is solid and the grasp of the web technology is really top-notch.

Magic behind the curtain

I was surprised at how much Even Faster Web Sites revealed to even an experienced web designer like myself. The chapter on image optimization offers several techniques such as PNG crushing and optimized sprites that only experienced web designers will already know about. I think some parts of the book are less helpful for designers than developers and programmers, but all designers working with HTML, CSS and JavaScript are programmers by definition and those chapters might be dense but are definitely helpful.

One of the most impressive aspects of Even Faster Web Sites is the testing and research produced by the authors. Some books get away with stating rules and best practices, but this one provides evidence to support what it recommends. The charts and tables convinced me that I have some room to improve my own website-building practices for my clients, and I’m excited to provide even better service thanks to this book.

Even Better Web Sites is an outstanding book, and a rare book that’s a good read for designers and developers of every skill level. The only designers who don’t need this book are those who know everything about web design already. Some of the techniques explained in this book seem to border on magic. I recommend you pick up a copy and learn how your websites can move even faster.

Even Faster Web Sites
Steve Souders
Published by O’Reilly
Rating: 10/10