London2012.com, the official website for London Olympics has failed in online tests conducted to check if it will be able to satisfy the needs of users during the games. This has come as a big disappointment and other websites, londonolympics2012.com, visitlondon.com/london2012, timeout.com/London/Olympics-2012, tfl.gov.uk and lastminute.com are all expected to have high traffic when the event is on.
A series of tests were conducted by Compuware to check the compatibility of the websites. The websites were tested on the basis of user experience, browser, content, network, server and 11 other performance related areas wherein the websites failed miserably especially when compared to the performance of Alexa 100, a global web index.
London2012.com was identified as a weak performer in some of the key areas, which included loading a web page, content delivery as per user requirement and many others. What’s worse is that all this will simply put pressure on the server. Michael Allen, Director of IT service management at Compuware on this matter said, “As the traffic increases we expect that some of the architectural issues that we have identified will proliferate to what is a performance problem. The number of requests, for example, is probably okay if you only have a few hundred users accessing it concurrently.”
“However, if you have thousands it’s going to put the servers under increased pressure. People will be denied content because a server can only have so many open connections” he added.
Compuware is of the view that those working on the website should resolve this issue and they can do so by putting group images such as logos in one request.
Another major issue that was seen at the website was the waiting time. The browser actually took almost 1.9 seconds to open a page, which is much more compared to 0.04 seconds of lastminute.com. The total load wait time was 12.2 seconds for london2012.com, compared to 2.3 seconds for londonolympics2012.com.
On the matter, Compuware’s Allen said, “I think a lot of these things they won’t be able to change rapidly, it’s probably too late now. Many websites look at performance and design from the outset, you would think that if you were building the Olympics website you know it’s going to have a relatively short lifespan, but in that time it’s going to be under huge amounts of pressure and have high visibility.”
He further went on to say that, “it would be very difficult to make significant changes now that we are a few days away from the Games.”
He also suggested some measures that would help keep the pressure away. “I think you could look to make some rapid changes. One of the problems with london2012.com was the size of the site – the homepage was 4.3MB, which compares with the Alexa median of 0.4MB and tfl.gov.uk’s website of 0.6MB,” said Allen.
“That’s pretty heavy for a homepage. You could compress a lot of the images, which you could do pretty quickly. That would take a lot of the burden off the network. Or they could look to rapidly provision extra datacentre capacity, but that’s an expensive option.”