Load Time Analyzer

on Thursday, April 29, 2010

Most of you are probably aware of the 25 second rule: your web pages should load within 25 seconds, using a 56k modem. The 1 Hit Load Time Analyzer (http://www.1-hit.com/all-in-one/tool.loading-time-checker.htm) will check your load time, and rate your site with a color coded report. The report breaks down the page by giving you file sized of each image, and the file size of your HTML. So, if your site comes in over 25 seconds, you'll have a list of files (usually images) that are taking the longest to load, and know where to start in improving your load time.

Two examples are below. The first is the CSU Extension Webpage template, clocking in at a respectable 14.7 seconds. The second is an Extension website, which will remain anonymous, that clocks in at a rather sluggish 32.3 seconds. One image on this site takes up 86% of the load time. Compressing this image alone could take the image down to under 25 seconds.

Fast site:

Slow site:

Website Readability

on Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Readability is an often overlooked aspect of website accessibility. In fact, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines require that documents are clear and simple. Ideally, your site should be easy for the end-user to scan for information.

Juicy Studios has three readability tests available at http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php: Gunning Fog, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid. These are reading level algorithms that can give you a good sense of how easy your text is to read.

The Gunning-Fog index returns a number between 6 and 30, with 6 being the level of TV Guide, and 15-20 the level of most academic papers (the website gives a more complete explanation of results).

The Flesch Reading Ease scale rates the text on a 100 point scale. Shoot for 40-70.

Flesch-Kincaid grade level attempts to measure how many years of schooling it would take someone to understand the content.

In addition, the readability test will return the average number of words per sentence, syllables per word, and more. The results of my own Computer Applications website are shown below.

Internet 2009, By the Numbers

on Friday, April 16, 2010

Fascinating article at the Royal Pingdom, running down the shape of the Internet, 2009, by the numbers. I had no idea Ashton Kutcher was so popular.


* 90 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
* 247 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
* 81% – The percentage of emails that were spam.
* 92% – Peak spam levels late in the year.
* 24% – Increase in spam since last year.

Social Media
* 126 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
* 84% – Percent of social network sites with more women than men.
* 27.3 million – Number of tweets on Twitter per day (November, 2009)
* 57% – Percentage of Twitter’s user base located in the United States.
* 4.25 million – People following @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher, Twitter’s most followed user).
* 350 million – People on Facebook.
* 50% – Percentage of Facebook users that log in every day.

* 1 billion – The total number of videos YouTube serves in one day.
* 182 – The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month (USA).
* 81.9% – Percentage of embedded videos on blogs that are YouTube videos.

Malicious software
* 148,000 – New zombie computers created per day (used in botnets for sending spam, etc.)
* 2.6 million – Amount of malicious code threats at the start of 2009 (viruses, trojans, etc.)
* 921,143 – The number of new malicious code signatures added by Symantec in Q4 2009.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman and Erin Pheil for the tip.

Aviary: Online Design Tools

on Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aviary (http://aviary.com/)is a suite of seven free browser-based design tools: Phoenix (a Photoshop-like image editor), Toucan (a color picker and color palette generator), Peacock (a very fun visual effects editor), Raven (a vector graphics editor), Talon (a screen capture tool), Falcon (an image markup tool) and Myna (a multi-track audio editor).

While the bird related names for the various tolls might be a little overly cute, the tools are for the most part easy to use and well designed (my seven year old daughter figured out how to use the image editor in minutes). Each tool has an introductory video and many video tutorials. Talon, the screen capture tool, can be incorporated into Firefox with an add-on. You can store your work either on the Aviary "cloud" or save it back to your own computer when you are done (recommended; see the last paragraph).

While all the tools are free, registration is required for some features (username, password, email address). There used to be a $25/yr pro version, but now everything is free.

Two drawbacks that I found: any work you do can be used for display by Aviary, although you will be listed as the creator. For example, your art could be used as an image for a third-party news article about Aviary. Also, if you store your work online with Aviary, they will place a watermark in the lower left hand corner. This watermark can be avoided, however, if you download your work directly to your desktop, rather than storing it with Aviary.

Other than those drawbacks, it's a wonderful design suite. Aviary does most of the chores performed by the costly Adobe Creative Suite, does them online, and for free!

Thanks to Darrin Goodman for the tip.