Recently, I experimented with adding badges for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ on this site and our small publishing/writing company's web site, Story Institute. The experiment was longer than it should have been considering it slowed down the sites considerably. I would not have considered that the badges may actually be impacting the site's performance. We have experienced slow downs with our hosting provider prior to moving our sites to a more reliable service. So, I thought it may have just been a result of different traffic patterns and server issues. After a few days, the slowness continued. I checked the server up times and load. All seemed OK on that end.
So, out to the web and some load testing sites. After playing around with some html and java code, removing the line for the print.css file, and adjusting some graphics, the load times continued to be high. The interesting thing is I neglected the areas that came before the graphics and code. I neglected to see how long those lousy badges were taking to load. They were increasing load times up to 10 seconds a badge. With 3 badges, if the server was a little busy, that meant the site would take over 30 seconds to load. With the patience of most visitors being at a minimum, 30 seconds was way too long.
As I removed each badge, I would rerun the load tests. With one less badge, the site loaded quicker. Since each badge had to go out to each site and bring back not only text, but also a profile picture and what ever tracking each site had. It delayed the load of the page even though the badges were in the sidebars which were slated to load after the main content. Each badge also brought with it a few lines of java script with connections to each profile.
Needless to say, those badges had to go. Since we still would like to connect readers and random visitors to those sites, I went back to good old html links...which you will see in the sidebar under, you guessed it "Social Networks." While I am sure there are other things I could have done, it just didn't make sense to keep the glorified advertisements, especially since the advertisements we do have on the site, which also use java are not slowing things down as much as those stinking badges.
I know there are things I could do on both sites to minimize the load time or even delay the badges. However, it really is not worth it for our purposes. The links work just fine and, eventually, I am sure I will create my own graphic...So, before you blame your hosting service, before you dig too far into the details of the script, try removing those pesky badges and be done with it. Your friends will find you where ever you are Mrs. Calabash...
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