Video Of The Week – The Perception Of Speed

In our Video of the Week, “The Perception Of Speed”, Steve Souders the Web Performance Guru speaks about the challenges Web Developers and Web Performance Engineers face when developing applications for today’s web users who will accept nothing less than a great  End User Experience. The Web unfortunately as we all know is maze of interconnected global networks where QoS (Quality Of Service) for content delivery can rarely (read never) be guaranteed from origin to the actual client endpoint. It is completely up-to the Web Architect and Web Performance Engineer to design, architecture and build application platforms that take into consideration the inherent behaviour of the internet when seeking to deliver a great End User Experience.

In the “Perception Of Speed”, Steve Souders covers techniques that developers, architects and Performance Engineers could adopt to enhance the overall End User Experience. The premise of the talk is based on the fact that, delays in transferring data over the internet are inevitable. However through intelligent use of programming and rendering techniques Web Designers, Developers, Architects and Web Performance Engineers can build application platforms that deliver great End User Experience by focusing on the “Perception Of True Speed”.

Steve puts forward the principle of building a high performance application interface based on the, “Perception Of Speed”. The, “Perception Of Speed”  simply worded is the “perceived” speed  by the user due to the smart delivery mechanisms built into the application design and underlying system architecture. From a Web Architect’s standpoint when you think, “Perception Of Speed” think –

  • Pre-fetch
  • Browser Caching
  • Content Delivery Networks
  • Edge Server Caching i.e. Varnish + Apache or Varnish + Nginx

Perception of “True Speed” is what ultimately matters to the human mind as viewed by the End User and it is through subtle manipulation of this perception through which developers are able to manage the users expectations of extremely high performance in-spite of all of the challenges that the internet throws at us. Through managing this, “Perception Of Speed” developers are able to deliver heavy media rich applications and provide an exhilarating end user experience.

You can see the entire video below.

Steve is Chief Performance Officer at Fastly developing web performance services. His book, High Performance Web Sites, explains his best practices for performance; it was #1 in Amazon’s Computer and Internet bestsellers. His follow-up book, Even Faster Web Sites, provides performance tips for today’s Web 2.0 applications. Steve is the creator of many performance tools and services including YSlow, the HTTP Archive, Cuzillion, Jdrop,SpriteMe, ControlJS, and Browserscope. He serves as co-chair of Velocity, the web performance and operations conference from O’Reilly, and is co-founder of the Firebug Working Group. He taught CS193H: High Performance Web Sites at Stanford, and does many public speaking appearances.

Steve was the Head Performance Engineer at Google where he worked on web performance and open source initiatives. Prior to that he was Chief Performance Yahoo! and ran the Exceptional Performance and My Yahoo! teams. Steve worked at several small to mid-sized startups including two companies he co-founded, Helix Systems and CoolSync. He also worked at General Magic, WhoWhere?, and Lycos. In the early 80’s Steve worked at a few companies doing research in Artificial Intelligence focusing on machine learning.

You can read more about Steve Souders at

High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers

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Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers

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