I released my first major non-blog website on August 1 this year. It's called Today Weather and it's had a fairly good first 60 days. It got linked to by a few big tech sites and had a truly insane first couple of days. Usage has leveled off at a healthy, if not mind-blowing level. If you're using Today Weather, thank you, you're the best!
As I said in my initial blog post, one of Today Weather's big differentiators were it's speed and overall efficiency. Today I wanted to take a look at how it stacks up against some of the biggest weather sites out there, as well as the brand new DarkSky.net that I actually really like. This comparison is not meant to say definitively that Today Weather is the best weather site out there, but that it remains the most efficient, easiest to use web app for checking the weather.
First up is website size. Today Weather is supposed to respect your data and use as little as possible.
In addition to respecting your data, a good site should make sure as much data you're using is stuff the user actually wants. Here's a look at how many items are blocked by Opera's built in content blocker. Today Weather does well, but it does have 2 ads as well as Google Analytics that are getting blocked.
One thing that can really slow a site down is making a bunch of HTTP requests. It's faster to load 1 medium sized file than 50 tiny files, so you generally want to minimize the number of requests your site makes to be as efficient as possible.
All of these numbers are well and good, but how fast the site loads in practice is possibly the most important stat. Things get a lot closer here, but there are 2 things to consider:
- Today Weather runs on a shared server with DigitalOcean that costs $5/month to run. It's fast, but I could spend more money and host it on a faster server. All of my competitors definitely spend more on fast hosting than I do.
- I could optimize Today Weather better for first load speed. The delay in loading is almost entirely based on how fast the Dark Sky and Google Maps APIs respond to my queries. I could have the page load and then make the requests, but early tests showed that was actually not quite as good an experience. It's something I'm looking into though.
And finally, Pingdom will take all the metrics together and give a site a grade out of 100. This is a somewhat abstract metric, but it gives you a general idea for how well a site is optimized for speed. I'm very happy to see what site came out on top here.