Velocity Session on Time is Money The Measurable Value of Performance by Design

Time is Money – The Measurable Value of Performance by Design

Tim Morrow (Shopzilla)
9:20am Thursday, 06/24/2010
Keynotes, Web Performance Ballroom ABCD
This is presentation will be streamed live along with the other keynotes.
Shopzilla is of the largest and most comprehensive comparison shopping networks on the planet. Each day millions of consumers shop for virtually anything via our websites, and and our publisher network. Delivering content to millions of users, thousands of times per second – FAST – is not just good for business, it’s a competitive advantage.As it turns out, time is Money.

From large eCommerce sites like Shopzilla, to major search engines such as Google and Bing, the industry has proven that faster web sites result in a better consumer experience, deeper engagement, and ultimately a boost to the bottom line. This talk will cover a detailed analysis of the business metrics that we’ve tied directly performance, including direct marketplace financials as well as the impact of performance on traffic acquisition (SEO and SEM).

Additionally, after taking our eye off the performance “ball”, Shopzilla’s flagship sites slowed from 1.5s to 4s on average. We’ll share:

  • Why we took our eye off the ball
  • The real financial costs of slowing down
  • The specific techniques we applied to make our sites fast again (from 4s to sub-second above the fold)
  • The process and technology framework we put in place to ensure this never happens again

Tim Morrow is the lead Architect at Shopzilla, Inc., responsible for the design, implementation, and performance of the company’s portfolio of consumer-facing sites, which include 8 websites in 4 countries. As the Senior Architect at the company, Tim instills in his team of engineers his obsession with performance through his methodical approach to building software: define performance targets, architect, design, implement and measure, measure, measure.

Tim has over 10 years of experience leading teams to design and build websites and enterprise systems using Java and related technologies, focusing on performance, scalability and availability. Prior to joining the world of online shopping at Shopzilla, Tim developed software to support the provisioning of mobile devices and delivery of applications to mobile devices in the Wireless Business Division at Qualcomm. Tim also thrived in the entrepreneurial environment during years 2000-2004 of startup, . As a key contributor to the startup team, Tim designed and built hosted web applications for the fledgling company.

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Tim obtained his BEng degree in Computer Science from Queens University in Belfast. He currently resides in Chula Vista, California with his wife and two kids. In his free time, Tim can often be found reading, snowboarding or training for his first triathlon.

Notes on the Session

I’ve never really been too interested in this company in the past. Here’s their link.

  • Lacked front-end measurement for years
    • 80 to 90% of time spent on front-end
  • Major cost of ignoring performance
    • Can give back the gains from a performance optimization effort through neglect and lack of monitoring and awareness


  • More measurements
    • Time to first byte
    • Progressive rendering stats
    • Full page load
    • More automation
      • nightly tests
      • Real browser measurements using HTTPWatch and YSlow
      • Simulate real bandwidth with Netem

What they found

    • Progressive rendering was not optimal
      • Tomcat flushes every 8k
    • Competition for bandwidth
      • Too many requests

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