How French Newspaper Le Monde Improved its Web Site's Performance
While The New York Times is the number one newspaper in US, Le Monde is the number one news source in France and for French speakers around the world. I have a deep and personal relationship with Le Monde; as it allowed me to stay informed while travelling around the world before settling in the US. I continue to be an online subscriber not only to have a deeper world news coverage but also to practice my French.
This year Le Monde’s IT team embarked on a major project to make the website faster. The key business driver was to increase web traffic by providing the best user experience. The development team rebuilt several parts of their system from scratch and optimized the front end code to achieve their performance goals. As part of the initiative, they modified how third party tags are rendered on the page in order to minimize their performance exposure and risks. This “Perflift” has a big payoff for the end users and the company as the new website blows away the old site in performance:
- The time to Document Complete (or onload) improved by more than 50%
- The Total Page Load time improved by more than 33%
Here are performance measurements before and after the “Perflift” from 5 European nodes (Paris, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan)
From a WPO (Web Performance Optimization) perspective the Le Monde engineering team did a fantastic job at:
- Reducing the number of CSS files
- Serving static content from cookie-less domains,
- Relying on CSS Sprites
- Domain sharding
- Loading the ads post document complete.
- Most importantly, loading JS asynchronously. They went from 700Kb to 100Kb of sync/blocking JS on the Home Page!
- Loading images asynchronously, triggering image load on user scrolling.
We hear that they have a few more tricks up their sleeves they plan to implement in order to keep improving the site speed.
Congratulations to the entire Le Monde Team for pulling off this “Perflift” successfully! Companies from around the world should take a close look and learn from Le Monde and Home Depot.
Mehdi – Catchpoint
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