A Fast Website is a Reliable Website

You can buy a precision sports car and know that it’s not necessarily the most reliable thing you own. You can buy an ultra-reliable daily driver and know that it won’t beat a Ferrari off the start or the quarter mile. These themes are true for a lot of things, but not for websites.

At Solspace, we pretty much spend all of our time on web reliability. Web reliability refers both to a web property that has been built to be stable, secure and dependable and to the underlying team that maintains it over time. The humans and their relationships need to observe the laws of reliability and so too does the technical website construction. The interesting thing about the work is that the more you achieve in the way of improved reliability, the faster the website seems to load in a browser.

Here’s an example of the reliability + speed relationship: We recently started managing a website for a very large multinational organization. The website code is highly complex, bloated and layered with many years of revisions, launches and partial changes. Making a simple change anywhere can have unpleasant ripple effects. Sometimes we’re scared to move at all for fear of discovering something broken days after making a change. This describes an unreliable website. It also describes a slow website. The code is complex and bloated due to years of layered maintenance and tinkering. There’s a lot of code to load for each page, so it’s slow. There’s a lot of ways to break stuff and create waves of damage with simple changes, so it’s unreliable.

A fast website is one that has only the essential code in the essential places. And because it’s simple, lean, mean and easy to comprehend it is easy to maintain, update and fix. That makes it reliable. It is less likely to break.

As you work with your web development agency on this question, ask them a few things. Ask them if they can describe to you their best practices for front-end code optimization. Ask them if they can tell you how they will use a CDN for your site. Ask them if they have colleagues who can login and review their back-end server and database configuration. Lastly, find out if they have the relationship skills necessary to push back on you and press you to simplify your expectations for your website’s complexity. That’s the big one. Most of the speed and reliability mistakes we see take place at the human decision making level.

A fast website is also a reliable website. Both of these factors have a direct effect on your website’s ability to generate revenue for your organization. They deserve careful attention.