The Web looks different to a consumer using it from home than it looks to a user on a high-speed T1 telephone line at work, said Matt Parks, product manager for Keynote Systems, the supplier of Web site performance statistics.
That's why Wed., Oct. 13, at its San Francisco user conference, Keynote will launch a new measure of the Web, the Consumer 40 Index, to match its already widely published Business 40 Index, which lists the top performing business sites for business users. "Over the last mile, the speed of the modem is more of a limiting factor than geography - how far away the Web server is," Parks said of the consumer-oriented index.
Keynote will test sites by posing as consumers in San Francisco to capture response time data for the top 10 e-shopping sites, such as Amazon.com, eBay, eToys and Wal-Mart; the top 10 travel sites, such as Hertz, Priceline.com, Travelocity and Yahoo! Travel; the 10 fastest brokerage sites; and the 10 fastest portal/search sites.
To gather the consumer-oriented data, it will use the 56-kilobits-per-second modem speed typical of a San Francisco-based home Internet user to connect to American Online or the Microsoft Network. Some measuring will be done with cable modems and Digital Subscriber Line connections as well.
The index will show the average time to access and download a Web page and its components, with the percentage of downloads that are completed successfully serving as a factor that weights the results, said Gene Shklar, director of the project to amass the index.
"So far, the lean and mean portals are really fast, between 5 and 17 seconds," Shklar said. "Travel sites appear to be the slowest, between 13 and 46 seconds," he added. Keynote's data collecting process was not complete at the time Shklar cited the preliminary results. Portal sites such as Go.com and Yahoo! are built to be lean and fast, Shklar noted, and he expected them to appear near the top of the Consumer 40..
Different Internet Service Providers are used in conducting the tests, lest one service provider skew the results, Parks said. UUnet in New York, for example, is more heavily trafficked than PSINet in Dallas, and results from Web sites located within each are weighted accordingly, he said.
Keynote will be adding a Consumer Perspective Service to its existing Keynote Perspective and Lifeline business use services in the fourth quarter. Keynote Perspective supplies regular hourly results on a business site over the course of a year for $495, Parks said. No pricing has been set for the Consumer Perspective service. Keynote was founded by Umang Gupta, who also founded the former Gupta Software. Keynote sells its site measurement capabilities as a service to Web site owners, who can review their own site's performance along with data collected on their competitors, Parks said.