Velocity Conferences – the “why” and the “how” of web performance

Velocity Conferences have been around since 2008, and this year is seeing several of them, the soonest from now due in London at the beginning of October. These events easily attract speakers from such industry giants as Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Facebook, and are dedicated entirely to building a faster and stronger web. That alone is enough to prove the importance of speed where web is concerned.

Velocity is where the world-renowned experts on optimising web performance exchange ideas and tricks to achieve even better results, but also a lot is said about the “why” of it. Apparently, as the web evolves and technologies improve providing for faster connections, the end users become less and less forgiving about speed and reliability of web resources. It is now a well-known fact that when Google increased the number of displayed results from 10 to 30, the number of searches performed by web users at Google dropped by 20%, because the time necessary to generate the page increased from 0.4 seconds for 10 results tp 0.9 seconds for 30 results. It’s just half a second difference – something we would hardly think we’d ever notice, and yet for 20% of Google users it was enough to feel uncomfortable and go elsewhere.

This Google disaster happened about six years ago, even before the first Velocity Conference. But the Internet users were already spoilt enough to expect comfortable web experience. These days they are far more finicky about it, which is why the events dedicated to website speed attract more attendance every year. The idea of the necessity to make business websites as fast and as reliable as they could be penetrates the brains of more and more business owners.

As for the “how”, speakers at Velocity Conferences discuss very different aspects of faster web, from TCP/IP and hardware to HTML5 vs Flash (and what is better for videos) and the proper use of JavaScript and Ajax. A lot of attention is paid to huge systems involving thousands of web servers, such as Google or FaceBook, for which speed is discussed in connection with uptime and reliability, but ordinary websites and their potential troubles get covered also. To get the idea of what those conferences are like, you might want to watch this video.

One of the people responsible for the creation of Velocity is Jesse Robbins, an American entrepreneur known for his works related to Web operations & DevOps, the two fields that often get mentioned in connection with the Conferences. Robbins was recently named as a Top 10 Cloud Computing Leader of 2012, so he definitely knows what he talks about when it comes to speed and performance.