Speed: Feature Number One

We have learned our lesson.

We run a website for raw food recipes and discussion, called Gone Raw. It’s been up for three and a half years now – originally as a custom-built Rails application, then in Drupal. And while we’ve always enjoyed running the site, our biggest issue has been that it felt slow.

We’ve long felt that the speed of a website is more important than most people assume. Fred Wilson recently gave a great talk on 10 Golden Principles for Building Successful Web Applications in which his very first item was speed. I’m just going to quote him here directly.

First and foremost, we believe that speed is more than a feature. Speed is the most important feature. If your application is slow, people won’t use it. I see this more with mainstream users than I do with power users. I think that power users sometimes have a bit of sympathetic eye to the challenges of building really fast web apps, and maybe they’re willing to live with it, but when I look at my wife and kids, they’re my mainstream view of the world. If something is slow, they’re just gone.

So true. And when Wilson refers to a “web application,” I would extend this to all websites. There’s not much difference.

I won’t go into the technical details, but we decided this week to move Gone Raw to the latest-and-greatest Drupal-based hosting technology. Our goal was to make it faster. And it is – on average, a visitor sees pages load five times faster! That’s nothing to sneeze at. In fact, once you’re browsing around the site, the pages often load so fast you would miss them if you blinked.

That’s more like it. Though Gone Raw is a free site, it depends in part on advertising revenue to stay worthwhile to us. And more visitors, with faster pages, is only going to help. We can’t wait to use this great technology on more of our websites in the future.


Kandace Brigleb

Producer, co-founder of Needmore. Currently residing on the left coast.