Web Performance Benchmark: Facebook Still Fast, Availability Slips in Q3

The results of SmartBear's Q3 social networking website performance benchmark are in! Would you be surprised if we told you that once again Facebook ranked as the fastest?

For the seventh consecutive quarter--in fact, for all quarters since we launched the Web Performance Index for Social Networks--Facebook beat the other networking sites in the category for top honors with a 0.73 second average response time. This is a slight increase over last quarter's 0.70 second average.

Facebook also posted an impressive 99.96 percent availability, though its 0.02 percent drop over last quarter was enough to send it slipping into the number two spot. YouTube reclaimed the number one position with 99.98 percent reliability for the quarter.

What is perhaps most impressive about Facebook's performance is its steady improvement, despite steady increases in users and site activity.

Just over a year ago, Facebook broke 500 million members. Around the same time, AlertSite reported that Facebook delivered 1.00 second response times and 99.76 availability in Q3 2010.

Today, there are more than 800 million active users on Facebook, more than half of whom log on to Facebook daily. And they're spending significant time there. In Q3, for example, U.S. citizens spent roughly 16 percent of their total time online on Facebook. That's up from 10 percent only a year ago.

Twitter

We should also take note of Twitter's website performance in Q3. Though the site didn't win, place or show--and in fact, even dipped slightly in both website speed and availability--its performance was fairly consistent with industry averages.

Here's why this is so significant:

  • July 17, 2011: Paraguay defeats defending champion Brazil in the Copa America quarter-finals. Tweets per second: A record-breaking 7,166.
  • July 17, 2011: The U.S. women's soccer team loses to Japan in the Women's World Cup finals in a shootout. Tweets per second: A record-breaking 7,196.
  • Aug. 23, 2011: Washington, D.C.and much of the Eastern seaboard is shaken by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. Tweets per second: 5,500.
  • Aug. 28, 2011: Beyonce announces she is pregnant on live TV at the MTV VMAs. Tweets per second: A record-breaking 8,868.

Once upon a time, such high traffic and tweet frequency likely would have taken Twitter offline and sent its availability for the quarter plummeting.

The fact that the social networks can maintain steady (and more often than not, impressive) website performance while users, traffic and activity increase shows the added emphasis developers are placing on user experience and website performance.

To compile the Web Performance Index for Social Networks, SmartBear Software uses AlertSite to monitor the home pages of these sites from 12 U.S. locations, every five minutes between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EDT.


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