Introduction

Illustration: Taxonomy2

Collected thoughts about software and site performance ...

Web performance matters. Responsive sites can make the online experience effective, even enjoyable. A slow site can be unusable. This site is about online performance, how to achieve and maintain it, its impact on user experience, and ultimately on site effectiveness.

Performance challenges

In my second post on the original Performance Matters blog, I wrote that building and maintaining first class e-business applications demands a systematic commitment to delivering levels of quality that can be measured and managed.

I listed some key performance management challenges that organizations must address to ensure an effective Web presence:

  • What level of performance do our customers really expect?
  • How can we match, even stay ahead of, the competition?
  • How will we prepare for our next big sales event (or season)?
  • How will we measure site and application responsiveness?
  • How will we know when our customers experience a drop in service levels?
  • How do we diagnose and fix problems quickly?
  • How will we monitor, quantify, and report on our success?

At the time, I wrote that ...

to tackle these issues ... many people with diverse skills and responsibilities must contribute, because Service Level Management (SLM) touches every aspect of the application life cycle -- site design, database design, application programming and testing, systems management, and networking.

This is a broad topic, every aspect of which I hope to write about here at one time or another. And -- despite the emphasis on e-business issues in the original list -- for any organization that's serious about its online presence, site performance matters. So my overall goal for Web Performance Matters is still to assemble and organize articles, reviews and references that will help people learn about all these aspects of Web performance management, and keep up with new technologies and practices.

My specific goals are to:

  • Provide a useful organizing framework for these topics
  • Contribute timely and thoughtful analysis
  • Attract some comments and contributions from others

I won't be writing about tuning sports cars, training for the marathon, measuring employee productivity, or listening to concert artists. But as in all these other areas of life, excellence in online performance demands thorough preparation and attention to many details. If you care about such matters, this site is for you.

Terminology

If you want to communicate clearly, especially about information technology, you have to first agree on terminology. Having worked for years in the world of software and application performance, I tend to use the terms Performance Management and Service Level Management (SLM) interchangeably. But these days, people without that background are more likely to interpret the word "performance" as a reference to business performance, (BPM), or even employee performance.

Including an adjective like "Web" or "application" will help to distinguish my focus from the many other possible meanings. But if the meaning seems unclear from the context, or when discussing systematic approaches like ITIL, I will also refer to SLM.

Taxonomy

The next requirement for clear communication is to organize the subject matter in a systematic way. Moving the blog to a new platform (Squarespace) has allowed me to classify all the posts into topics or categories. These categories are listed (in alphabetical order) in the sidebar on each page. So now you can quickly find all the posts about a topic just by clicking on that category.

Although the new categories deal with performance management topics that address my original list of concerns, they do not map directly onto them. First I have to admit that the original list was incomplete. Because it focused on the business- and management-related aspects of performance management, it left out several important technical topics, and didn't address some general aspects, like education or news about the subject. So I hope my new categories will provide much more complete taxonomy.

For a full list of categories, see the Performance Topics page.

Recommended reading

As a technical writer, my aim is not simply to publish a stream of original thoughts, but to sift, understand, highlight, explain, connect, and amplify the thoughts of others. So I'm always scouring the Web for good raw material, and I'll be adding the best to a blogroll section in the sidebar and a Recommendations page.

The blogroll will not list every blog I read, just those that may include posts related to Web performance. And the recommendations will include useful pages or sites that are not blogs.

Chris Loosley
Last updated: June 1, 2007