Website Traffic and Performance

Hey There,

I have a few questions on website traffic and performance. This goes out to everyone in general. Perhaps we can find ways to increase traffic for our websites and be prepared for the change.

  1. I am sure the answer will vary but in general, how much does traffic influence performance and page speed? It would be neat to look at a graph for a page that does not change content wise and then measure page speed vs traffic.

  2. Likewise, I am sure this depends on server hardware, but in general, how much traffic can a server handle before performance is totally degraded to the point users may start to get frustrated with page speed?

  3. Once performance is degraded due to traffic, what can you do to increase the performance once again? Do you simply add more hardware to the same server or do you purchase more dedicated servers that mirror the original server?

  4. What is the most successful way you have had to increase traffic on your website?

  5. What social networking websites do you use to increase awareness of your website and help increase traffic? I plan on using facebook, myspace, twitter, and digg. How much have these social networking websites helped your traffic?

  6. How much traffic do you get from posting a well written article?

After I complete my website, traffic is going to be my main concern.

Travis Walters

My input based on scaling sites at AOL (so not necessarily the case for all deployments)…

This is generally referred to as load testing. For a properly designed and scaled system performance will not degrade (at all) with increased traffic. Realistically there is a knee that if it get crossed then performance does degrade (usually for the TTFB but it depends on how you serve your static content as well).

This actually depends on a combination of the hardware and the platform. From the web server (Apache, IIS, Lighthttpd) to the application stack (static files, cgi, php, java, ruby) and even the back-end it is hooked up to.

A lot of sites are designed to “scale horizontally” which means you can throw more servers into the mix and use load balancers and DNS round robin to distribute the load. This works best if the front-ends are stateless and the app needs to be designed for it.

The rest of the questions fall outside of my area of expertise.