Social Network Performance

26 September 2015

I’ve been working on a somewhat unique social network lately, and I wanted to see how it matched up with the big ones. Here’s a simple breakdown of the HTTP requests on each site:


  • 308 requests, 6.1 MB
  • 36 CSS files, 232 KB
  • 85 JS files, 1.7 MB
  • 161 images, 507 KB
  • 0 webfonts
  • 2 IFRAMEs


  • 65 requests, 2.7 MB
  • 6 CSS files, 127 KB
  • 4 JS files, 440 KB
  • 45 images, 2.0 MB
  • 1 webfont, 23.9 KB (Rosetta Icons)
  • 1 IFRAME


  • 224 requests, 4.8 MB
  • 13 CSS files, 79.9 KB
  • 23 JS files, 1.4 MB
  • 84 images, 1.7 MB
  • 6 webfonts, 42.6 KB (Various weights of Roboto)
  • 13 IFRAMEs

All of these were loaded from Chrome 45 on a desktop PC, with uBlock and Privacy Badger enabled (because really everyone should have both of these installed). Twitter is definitely the smallest, with a very fast perceived loading speed thanks to the small number of CSS files. All of the networks delay loading images until the rest of the interface is there. I was surprised to see Google+ using webfonts for their content, but since they were the same fonts used throughout many Google sites, chances are you already have Roboto cached from another previous pageload.

For comparison, here’s my current test site’s requests:

  • 20 requests, 779 KB
  • 1 CSS file, 21.5 KB
  • 1 JS file, 45.9 KB
  • 14 images, 577 KB
  • 3 webfonts, 132 KB (higher than I would like)

Apart from the webfonts, this loads very, very quickly. The webfont slowness was what prompted me to look into what other networks were doing, and it was good to see that other sites weren’t requiring nearly as much data for their webfonts. In Webkit browsers, on a slow connection, webfonts this big can prevent the content from showing for a good 5-6 seconds, which is definitely not usable. The large size of the webfonts is an issue, and the largest one is surprisingly my custom icon font, which I definitely need to optimize more before production. I’ll likely remove many of the icons from the set since I don’t need most of them.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Twitter is the only company who knows what they’re doing. Google+ has good cached load times, which is probably fine since most of their assets are cached from other Google pages anyway, but Facebook needing 1.7 MB of JavaScript is just scary.