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Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization [Paperback]

Andrew B. King
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Jan 2003

There's a time bomb on the web: user patience. It starts ticking each time someone opens one of your pages. You only have a few seconds to get compelling content onto the screen. Fail, and you can kiss your customers and profits goodbye.

You can't count on fast connections either. Most of your customers are still sucking content through a 56K straw. You have to serve up greased lightning or they'll bail. That's why you picked up this book. In it you'll learn how to cut file sizes in half. You'll trim (X)HTML, CSS, graphics, JavaScript, multimedia, and bandwidth costs. Real-world examples illustrate techniques with before and after code and percentage savings. After reading this book, you'll know how to make your pages literally "pop" onto the screen.

Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (14 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735713243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735713246
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 17.6 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,456,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Andrew B. King (Andy) is the founder of WebReference.com and JavaScript.com, both award-winning web developer sites. Created in 1995 and subsequently acquired by Mecklermedia (now Jupitermedia) in 1997, WebReference has grown into one of the most popular developer sites on the Internet. WebReference.com has won more than 100 awards, including PC Magazine's Top 100 Web Sites (nine-time winner).

As Managing Editor of WebReference.com and JavaScript.com, Andy became the "Usability Czar" at internet.com, optimizing the speed and usability of their sites. He continues to write the three weekly newsletters he started for WebReference.com and JavaScript.com.

Andy has been studying, practicing, and teaching optimization techniques for more than 20 years. For his BSME and MSME from the University of Michigan, he specialized in design optimization. Recruited by NASA, he chose instead to join the fast-paced world of engineering consulting at ETA, Inc., a structural engineering firm. He worked for Ford and GM, optimizing entire automotive structures and suspensions with finite element analysis.

In 1993, he discovered the web. Volunteer work with a local Free-net in 1993 led to a position as one of the first employees of Internet Connect, Inc., a web design firm. He's been working the web ever since.

In addition to his work with WebReference.com, Andy has also written for MacWeek and Web Techniques (now New Architect), and contributed to Jim Heid's HTML & Web Publishing Secrets. When he's not optimizing web sites or writing newsletters, you'll find Andy out taking pictures, sailing, or bicycling. Contact Andy through the companion site to this book at http://www.WebSiteOptimization.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speed up your knowledge! 5 Mar 2003
When I first got this book I wondered just how much it could cover that I didn't already know.... wow, was I suprised!
I generally read a book's first chapter and then pick and choose the parts I think would be useful, however I read this one from cover to cover in a matter of days. I then spent the next week or so implementing the great tips and tricks I'd learned from it across my sites.
What Andy King doesn't know about this subject could be written on a postage stamp, from Lilliput. From image compression, to movie optimisation to code reduction to CSS to Apache settings and many many more, this book covers it all, in detail.
I don't think I have another book with so many folded corners and highlighted lines.
If you want to make your site faster, find some great resources and learn just how little you know on this subject I highly recommend this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete 'How-To' Guide For A Pro-Site 6 Aug 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I bought this book I was realistically just hoping for a few tips to help minimise the size of my web pages. Yet the title really undersells the contents, because (graphic design excepted) this book is nothing short of a complete, utterly practical guide to how to build a fast and professional web site. It begins by explaining why a fast loading site is so important to usability, and then launches into chapter after chapter of DETAILED how-to tips on the correct use of HTML, XHTML, CSS(including CSS2), Javascript, minimising GIFs/JPEGs/PNGs/audio and video files - the advice is totally professional and includes advice on what software is available for any given purpose as well as web addresses for further information. (The author even gives advice on what type of digital camera is best for putting video on the web!) The last third of the book then explains how to optimise your site for the search engines, continues with detailed consideration of server-side techniques for compressing webpages even further, and concludes - unusually, but helpfully - with a large chunk (23 pages!) from the first chapter of the book "Search Engine Visibility" by Shari Thurow.
The impression throughout is that a top-notch web pro has simply sat down at his keyboard and "spilled the beans" (Karl Moore style) on all the intricate and difficult pro tips that will doubtless have taken him half-a-lifetime to acquire. The old browser/new browser and I/E/Netscape compatibility issues are also addressed in detail throughout so intermediate level site-builders should be able to implement the majority of these (code-based) tips. This is probably the best computer book I have ever bought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very fast 17 Jun 2013
By Chris
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great service ! Fast second hand book was very good.it came as soon as I finished the Order . I was amazed how quick it came. Sorry had to pad some extra words in due to amazon rules.
So to recap it. Came fast ,it is neat and tidy. All in good service and great book !
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Usually reviews are a good for steering my purchases, this time I ended up way off course. 22 Nov 2005
By David Rose - Published on Amazon.com
I can't argue with the strengths of the book which is detailed in the number of excellent reviews here, as they are all true. I bought the book based on those reviews, and while they are true, I still feel cheated.

In today's world, where "standards based" coding is becoming more prevalent and adherance to the W3C standards for HTML coding is being recommended, this book just grated on me. While there is a great deal of great information, there are also a large number of "gotchas" to watch out for as well.

The book proposes to use HTML tags without their corresponding closing tags, not to use required elements whenever possible, avoid using quotes in HTML tags, and many other ways of creating "non-valid" code. This will "optimize" your code a bit more by reducing the characters in it, but it will also create problems for you in the future.

In summary, while the book does give alot of good information, it often steers you away from standard code. If you are unsure what is considered "standard" and required for creating valid XHTML/CSS, you are best served skipping this book as it will teach you to create invalid code. If you know enough about XHTML/CSS to ignore those parts, it's a great book.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shorter html and css at all costs? 13 Dec 2005
By Alexander Bunkenburg - Published on Amazon.com

The book has six parts.

The first part says that because web users are willing to wait for at most eight seconds and many use a 56.6Kbps modem, web pages should be at most 30KB in size.

The second part lists tricks how to write shorter html.

The third part lists tricks how to write shorter css and javascript.

The fourth part discusses graphics and multimedia optimization.

The fifth part explains methodically how to make your web come up high in search engines.

The sixth part details some server-side tricks for Apache.


This book concentrates almost exclusively on sending fewer bytes from the server to the browser. It gives a large collection of tricks how to write shorter html, xhtml, css, and javascript. Some of these tricks are useful. Others however go against standards, and some seriously go against maintainability. I'd be reluctant to give this book to my team. One may be tempted into shaving off bytes, spending a big effort and yet producing unmaintainable code. Unless one has a strong sense of relevance, one can be caught up in technical dispersion.

If you want to send fewer bytes, standard gzip-compression is far better than eliminating line-breaks and indentation.

The book does not go into server-side programming. It is oriented towards optimization of static pages.

With this orientation, King makes some bad recommendations. For example, he recommends writing javascript without comments, rather then recommending server-side comments that are not sent to the browser.

The book predates AJAX-like techniques.

Who should read it?

The book is useful for the person that writes the html that will be sent to the browser, if that person has a good sense of relevance.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ESSENTIAL Book for Any Serious Web Designer 10 Mar 2003
By Patrick D. Crispen - Published on Amazon.com
Andy King, the guru behind WebReference.com and JavaScript.com, sent me a review copy of his new book "Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization" a few weeks ago, and it absolutely knocked my socks off.
If you aren't familiar with Web site optimization (WSO), it's a series of techniques that minimize Web page file sizes and maximize page display speeds. In other words, WSO is simple stuff you can do to the Web pages you create to make those pages load faster. After all, people HATE waiting for slow Web pages.
What King has done in "Speed Up Your Site" is not only assemble pretty much every WSO technique known to man, he's also collected the research and conducted the interviews explaining WHY these techniques actually work.
While the entire book is exceptional, the four chapters in "Part II - Optimizing Markup: HTML and XHTML" are absolutely worth their weight in gold. It is in these four chapters that King shows you, step-by-step, how to clean up HTML bloat; minimize HTTP requests; tighten up comma-delimited attributes; speed up table rendering; and much, much more. And the results will ASTOUND you.
For example, using the techniques in just these four chapters alone, I was able to make my NetSquirrel.com homepage 26.5% smaller and load 42.9% faster. Words can't describe how cool that is.
The four chapters in Part II of King's book are accessible to ANYONE who knows simple HTML. That's not quite true for the next five chapters. In "Part III - DHTML Optimization: CSS and JavaScript," King shows you how to optimize your CSS and speed up your JS download and execution speeds. Of course, if [like me] you don't know CSS or JS from a hole in the ground, these five chapters aren't going to be much help to you. CSS and JS aren't topics for the weak of heart, and optimization only makes those topics that much more complex. But, if you *DO* know CSS and JS, King offers step-by-step instructions and real-world examples that show you what you need to do to maximize your page display speeds.
Let me also put in a plug for Chapter 15 - Keyword Optimization. This chapter shows you how to fine tune your page's meta keywords so that you can attract both search engines and, more importantly, visitors. Every Web design book tells you that you need to use meta keywords. King actually shows you how to find the meta keywords that yield the highest results. Instead of paying someone else lots of money to attract visitors to your site, follow the 10 steps that King outlines in this chapter. You'll save yourself both time and, more importantly, LOTS of money.
As I said earlier, Andy King's "Speed Up Your Site" absolutely knocked my socks off. There are a squillion Web design books out there, but this one belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Web designer.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get it fast and read it before doing more Web design 11 April 2003
By Meryl K. Evans - Published on Amazon.com
This book deserves 4 1/2 or 4 3/4 stars. A small star is clipped only because of the first two chapters focused on psychology of performance, theory, and background. Some people love the stuff like marketing professionals, but I'm not one of them. The rest of the book is solid gold... actually, platinum.
When we speak of usability, we typically speak of navigation, architecture, legibility, linking, screen size, and browsers. Also key is optimizing your site for fast downloads and this is more than just optimizing gif and jpg images. More people on broadband? Maybe, but not necessarily. Even broadband users have their limits in how long they will wait for a page to load. It's a business problem since it impacts revenue.
Been designing for less than a year? More than four years? Not even a designer, but involved somehow? The book is for all levels and anyone who has a hand in a Web site including decision makers. Experienced designers may have many of the optimization techniques down, but the book brings up others you may not have thought about. I've had my own Web site since 1993 and learned a few new tricks.
Andrew King has written about Web design for a long time and walks the walk as well as talks the talk. He has used his own Web site, Webreference.com, as a case study many times to show how to improve the site design. One reason he and Webreference.com have been well-respected is because everything is in reader friendly English.
Another book? No time to read it? The book is organized to make the most of your time. Use it while you're working on the Web project and refer to it often. You'll understand what King writes the first time and not have a need to re-read it until it makes sense.
If the words HTTP, client, server, and compression sound too techie, King's writing style has a calming effect so readers can understand and apply the concepts. Sites of every size and kind will benefit from this complete reference to create Web sites faster than a speeding bullet. We're all suffering from information overload, including broadband users, get to the book quick.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book on a critical but often overlooked issue 27 Jan 2003
By Gary Perlman - Published on Amazon.com
King's book focuses on an overlooked but critical aspect of website usability: response time. I think it's often overlooked by developers because they tend to have fast machines and fast connections, but even if individual response time is not a concern, the techniques discussed in the book could save money by requiring fewer servers and lower bandwidth requirements.
There are two chapters on the psychology of performance, which might provide motivation or ammunition to convince
people who need convincing. Many of the chapters focus on methods to reduce the size of textual languages like
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Better and easier gains are obtained by configuring the server for compression, but many sites do not have that sort of control. The benefits of all these methods are covered well. Optimizing graphics is covered thoroughly, explaining the properties of different formats. Although it is mentioned in a summary, the practice of specifying
the height and width of images is not explained. It seems so obvious to many developers, but it's a disaster when not followed because the page can not be rendered until the sizes of all the images have been determined. Techniques for writing efficient code are applied to JavaScript, and there is good coverage of what takes a long time to execute on some browsers.
The book has a web site: [...] It shows figures, chapter summaries, links to resources, etc.
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