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Just in time for the big game we review SuperBowl.com for speed and accessibility. Wide receivers are measured by their bursts of speed off the scrimmage line, but how fast does the official site download? To find out, we analyzed the SuperBowl.com home page for download speed and ease of access. Do you need a broadband connection to enjoy the Super Bowl site? How accessibile is the site for people with disabilities?
Better grab a cold one, it's going to be a long game. SuperBowl.com's 110K home page loaded useful content in 24 seconds, and took over 45 seconds to load entirely on a 56Kbps modem. With 57.1% of US households on narrowband connections most viewers will experience response times below established speed guidelines. SuperBowl.com fared poorly in our accessibility tests.
To see how well the official Super Bowl site complied with the speed guidelines published in my book Speed Up Your Site (http://www.speedupyoursite.com) we analyzed SuperBowl.com. The home page was analyzed using our free Web Page Analyzer plus an additional tool to detect dynamic content. The results of our analysis are listed in Table 1.
*The download times were measured on a Macintosh PowerBook with a fast 56Kbps connection. The first number is the time in seconds it takes for useful content to display. The second figure is the time it takes for the entire page to load (i.e., useful content/entire page). Note that the browser used in this test (IE 5.1.7) does not support HTTP compression.
~SuperBowl.com uses HTTP compression to compress their 69,699 byte HTML home page down to 19,832 bytes, for browsers that support HTTP compression.
For most US homes that use a "narrowband" connection of 56Kbps or less (King 2004) this home page takes over 20 seconds to load useful content to the screen. This is above the attention threshold of most users. Ideally, you want to deliver something useful for your users to interact with within 1 to 2 seconds. Overall, users prefer page load times of 8 to 10 seconds without feedback, regardless of bandwidth (King 2003).
Studies have shown increased blood pressure, heart rates, and decreased blood volume in users who were subjected to slow (Scheirer et al. 2002) and ill-designed sites (Ward and Mardsen 2003). With the added excitement of the Super Bowl, you may want to check with your doctor before going online.
We analyzed the SuperBowl.com home page for the five key elements typically included in accessible web pages. We found partial support for
alt attribute values and no support for the other common accessibility elements including a "skip to content" link, link
tabindex attributes (see Table 2).
|Site||Alt attributes?||Skip to content link?||Link title attributes?||Accesskey attributes?||Tabindex attributes?|
To improve accessibility convert graphical rollover menus to text and CSS2 for higher speed and better accessibility. For the remaining images, add descriptive
alt attribute values to functional images, and blank
alt attribute values to non-functional images. Include accesskeys in menu options and important links with visual cues to identify the matching key combination. Our other suggested solutions can be found in our presidential homepage review.
In our opinion, SuperBowl.com needs an improved speed and accessibility game plan. SuperBowl.com took over 45 seconds to fully load, and 24 seconds to load useful content. To improve initial display time, a search form or navigation bar could be added to the top layer to give users something to interact with quickly. With the crush of fans that will surely arrive on game day, any performance problems will be amplified by the increased traffic and server load.
Andy King is the founder of five developer-related sites, and the author of Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization (http://www.speedupyoursite.com) from New Riders Publishing. He publishes the monthly Bandwidth Report, the weekly Optimization Week, Speed Tweak of the Week, and the WebReference Update.
Any trademark or tradenames used in this article are owned exclusively by their owners and they do not endorse or sponsor this site. Optimization Week and the author are not affilliated with NFL Enterprises or CBS in any form, and we do not endorse these companies. All opinions expressed herein are based on information that we believe to be reasonably accurate at the time of publication. If you find any errors or misstatements of fact please contact us.
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Last modified: November 09, 2004