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Going Under the Knife: The Home Depot Perflift

Congratulations Home Depot

In our blog we focus a lot on failures and performance issues as it is the best way to educate our readers on how to deal with their performance fires. However, today we are blogging about the opposite – it is a story of how a retail site took the hard road to build a faster website for their end users.

The Home Depot story starts with what most people would consider bad news – they announced that the website would go offline for a 24 hours maintenance between 2/1/2012 and 2/2/2012. Today everyone in IT talks about live production rollouts, self scaling infrastructure to the infinity cloud, and wrenching monkeys raising havoc in production. But as a lot of us know, sometimes technology gets old and change becomes very hard.

In the Home Depot case they had to bring the whole system down to move to a new infrastructure and front end code. The change had a big payoff, it gave the website a major “Perflift” – think Facelift, a rejuvenating SPA for website. The new website blows away the old site in performance:

  • The time to Render Start improved by: 84%
  • The time to Document Complete improved by: 64%
  • The Total Page Load time improved by: 25%

From a web performance standpoint this is the before and after:

Home Deport Perflift - Metrics

Home Depot Performance Metrics Before / After

From a Web Performance Optimization perspective the Home Depot engineering team did a fantastic job at reducing the number of CSS files, JS files and applying various WPO Techniques to their pages:

Home Depot Perflift - WPO

Home Depot WPO Metrics Before / After

We reached out to Home Depot to get a better understanding of their new website and got the following “official statement”:

“HomeDepot.com recently upgraded our infrastructure and platform to the latest version of IBM Websphere Commerce.  This new foundation delivers a faster site experience, operational efficiencies and new capabilities which enables us to continue providing a world-class online experience for our customers.  We are pleased with the results and have received positive feedback from the community.”

Congratulations to the entire Home Deport Team for pulling off this “Perflift” successfully! Companies of all sizes could learn from the Home Depot experience.

Mehdi – Catchpoint

Note: Home Depot is a not a Catchpoint client. We have no business relationship, except when I have to run to their store in Hollywood to get some nails (but I guess I will be using the site more now that is faster).

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Posted on: February 14th, 2012

Category: Performance Tips

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