Author and Objectives
Principal and CTO
The Web Performance Matters journal is a new feature of UpRight Marketing's Web presence, but not an entirely new endeavor.
I've been publishing the original Performance Matters blog since 2005, using Google's free Blogger service. On October 16, 2005, I began my first post by justifying the blog's title:
In trade magazines and newsletters, articles featuring the Top Ten Rules are a staple feature. So anyone with even a passing interest in Web site design has probably seen a few checklists devoted to site usability. In essence, these lists present ways to keep visitors on your site -- rather than driving them away in frustration. These guidelines are important for every Web site, but become absolutely vital when doing business online. Over the past ten years I’ve read many such articles -- and I have been delighted to see that they almost always list the importance of site responsiveness.
Why was this so pleasing? Well, having devoted most of my career to software performance engineering, I have always regarded performance as a fundamental cornerstone of software quality. [For a more detailed bio, see the Upright Marketing site]. But in the past, such concerns were often viewed as an arcane technical backwater. So it is gratifying to see that performance is now widely acknowledged as vital to Web site usability and customer satisfaction.
This greater awareness of the significance of performance has also caused me to expand my own focus, to better understand where performance management activities and metrics fit in the context of overall site effectiveness. So although I'm still inclined to spend my time thinking and writing about Web technology, software architecture and design, and information management topics, I'm likely to take a broader view of these subjects than in the past.
Interestingly, this illustrates how the Web has dragged technology and technologists into business. While the Web is a fascinating technical medium in its own right, ultimately a site's content and purpose is paramount. Without performance, great content may be less effective. But without useful content, great performance is meaningless. That is where my technical interests dovetail with the other customer communications services provided by Upright Marketing. To reach and retain its intended audience, a site must have both engaging content and usable performance.
My Objectives for this Journal
In that first post, I went on to discuss my reasons for writing, and my goals for the blog:
Software performance is a very large subject; I know, because I once spent two years writing a book (High-Performance Client/Server) about it. The book mainly describes timeless principles of performance engineering and how to approach distributed computing with performance in mind, but (since I wrote it during 1996 and 1997) the examples are a bit dated now. Its focus really needs updating to address the Web environment, but I don't think I'm going to find the time to do it.
Publishing a blog seems to be a better plan. I aim to contribute an organizing framework and a regular supply of ideas. And I also hope to keep things interesting by attracting comments and contributions from others. As Web users, we all know that site performance does matter, so I will try to make this an interesting place to discuss Performance Matters.
Taking stock more than a year later, I can say that I've partially accomplished those goals. Designing an organizing framework was probably the easiest part; implementing it was tougher -- the blogger software provided no support for post categories or tags. Writing the blog did stimulate a supply of ideas (over 50 posts) although my output could hardly be called regular. But contributions from others, either as posts or as comments, have been precious few.
Even so, I think those are still worthwhile goals for any online publication. So now that I am moving the blog to its own domain on the Squarespace platform, I aim to do better. I want to write more regularly, so I'm going to aim for shorter and more frequent posts, rather than the infrequent long discussions of the last year. And I'm hoping to stimulate more participation.
Since the migration process will not happen overnight, and will involve some content changes, I've written a post about Content Migration and Overhaul.
-- Feb 20, 2007
Update: Here's a brief progress report after 6 months: 37 new posts (6 per month), the monthly unique visitor totals keep growing, though participation in post comments is still low. And compared to using Blogger, the Squarespace publishing platform is a huge improvement; I recommend it to anyone starting a blog, or considering upgrading from a free blogging platform. Click on the banner below for more information, and for a recent independent review, see this article in smallbusinesscomputing.com:
-- Aug 20, 2007
Update: I liked Jeff Atwood's Thirteen Blog Clichés, a post about "what makes blogs work well, and what makes blogs sometimes not work so well." So I wrote a post rating myself against Jeff's criteria. See Human Factors and Blog Design.
Sept 22, 2007