Back in 2003 Andy King published his first book: Speed Up Your Site. It was my first encounter with optimization of HTML and CSS, something that in recent years have been recognized as an important field by, among others, the YUI team. Now in 2008 Andy is back with a new book, but this time with a much broader scope. Website Optimization is not just about speeding up your site, it’s about optimizing it in several different areas. Everything from Search Engine Optimization and Creating the perfect USP to Optimizing page load times and measuring performance is covered.
I’m surprised that even though the book covers so many areas it still manages to penetrate each topic pretty deep. Naturally not as deep as a book totally devoted to one of these topics, but still it manages to do more than merely scratch the surface.
The book is organized in two parts. Part 1, Search Engine Marketing Optimization, is for you who wants to learn more about how to market your site and increase visibility and conversion rates. Part 2, Web Performance Optimization, is about how to improve page load times.
Part 1 – Search Engine Marketing Optimization
I’m not that interested in SEO so I found those chapters pretty boring. But the chapters about how to improve conversion rates was more interesting. This topic is closely related to usability and how to design the user interface to encourage people to take action, while at the same time remove any barriers that stand between the user and the end goal.
Part 2 – Web Performance Optimization
The second part of the book about optimizing web performance was really good. The chapters about how to optimize HTML and CSS contained several useful tips as well as references to different tools and resources. The chapter I’m particularly excited about is the one about how to optimize AJAX solutions. It presented me with new concepts and ideas that I found really useful.
Since I myself is an advocate for developing with web standards, I’m pleased to see that Andy also is doing it in his recommendations and techniques. This is a big improvement from the last book where he recommended techniques that meant not adhering to current web standards.
The broad scope of this book makes me want to recommend it for the not so specialized developer/marketer/designer that wants little bits of everything. But on the other hand I found the Web Performance Optimization part of the book to be good enough for any web developer who wants to learn how to increase performance of his site.
The entire book is filled with statistics, results from real life tests and references to other resources. While it’s always good to backup your point with data, I sometimes felt that it got a bit tedious. All that statistic, especially in the first part of the book, made the reading a bit hard. All in all I still think that the book is so full of useful practical tips that it’s well worth the effort of reading it.
There’s a companion site at www.websiteoptimization.com with extra material and articles.
Author: Andrew B King
Publisher: O’Reilly Media, Inc.; 1 edition (July 15, 2008)