Don't Optimize Performance Prematurely

It’s not often that you see the words “Don’t Optimize Performance” in a sentence on a web developer’s blog, but alas, here they are.

Let me be clear. I like fast-loading websites and snappy smartphone apps. I like using Google Chrome, Sublime Text, and Dropbox because they are faster than Safari, PHPStorm, and swapping out flash drives.

But if you are performance-tuning your website before you even know how slow it is, then you’re making a mistake.

It feels good to improve performance because it’s discrete and measurable. Shaving milliseconds off a page load can be addicting. But most of us aren’t in the business of optimizing page loads… we are trying to optimize an entire web experience, of which performance is only a tiny part.

Yes. People don’t like slow websites, but has anybody actually mentioned that your website is slow? Every minute you spend building image sprites, minifying Javascript, and tuning for-loops is time you could be spending on issues that users are actually complaining about, or features they are clamoring for.

Your performance tweaks may fulfill your personal desire to express cleverness or scratch a mental itch, but wasting your client’s time and money solving a problem that doesn’t exist yet is nothing to be proud of.

When your users are noticing slowness, then yes, of course, fix it. Solve their problem immediately!

Because solving users’ problems is the business you’re actually in.