Web Performance in China

China’s Performance Wall – What is their real problem?

We are all familiar with China’s approach to the Internet. Everything from abroad is evil; not only other political views, but also websites or online applications. If you want to make your site or application suitable for the Chinese market, make sure you treat their Internet wall seriously. Since 1998 they have put up the “Golden Shield Project”, and although you can’t see this one from the moon, the Mongolian empire would be jealous on the control this wall gives the twenty-first century rulers of this geographical area. As an evil stranger, strong will and persistence is needed to be able to have something loading quickly within the wall.

To start with the Facebook. It shows what an effect it has on many websites. How many pages online do you have some kind of “like” or “share on facebook” functionality? In case you have this – please be aware that this doesn’t load within the wall as Facebook is almost fully blocked! And thus also your like button is not loaded.

Some more stuff to explain:

Network connections into/out of China.  The two networks.  If one single file needs to come from “abroad” the wall, it will delay significantly. So decide about your external functionalities smartly.

In case you can have your full site on CDN. Do. And pick one that is good in China too. Otherwise host fully within China (and mirror your servers with slight delays) – even there be cautious on which hosting company you pick.

If you are serious about China; measure well from all different locations (not only Shanghai and Beijing). China is very fragmented and the only way to measure your performance is to measure from multiple locations.

Also don’t forget that the last mile issues are significant! Especially in the more rural areas broad-bandth is not a given.

Website Pulse has some specific tools (and explanation) to show you which sites are loaded behind the great wall and which are not. Next to that, please take into account that the overall bandwidth into China is very limited as well, making every bit from outside the wall load slow, despite the broadband connections some Chinese might have at home.

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