Beyond the Waterfall - meaningful web performance visualisations

A presentation at Velocity Conference in in Amsterdam, Netherlands by Simon Hearne

With all the different measurements we can take of web performance, the data we can report on becomes huge. Waterfall charts just don’t cut it any more – they are a technical tool to diagnose technical issues. What we need now are business-focused visualizations that quickly represent the impact of performance on user experience.

More and more regularly we are being asked for rapid analysis of key web performance challenges:

Where are the third parties coming from? What is the impact of loading web fonts? Are the ads on the page loading after the main content? How quickly could you answer these business-critical questions? Waterfall charts help, but need technical interpretation.

We have used visualizations for years – waterfall charts, domain breakdowns, filmstrips – but they all require some technical understanding for them to answer these questions.

Mark Zeman’s talk on visualizations at last year’s Velocity showed us that visualizations do not have to be technical to be meaningful. In this talk, Simon will demonstrate the value of exploring new types of visualizations to present a more holistic view of performance that anyone can understand.