Best Web Performance Books to Learn Site Speed Optimization

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been cooped up at home for longer than you’d prefer, and have been staring at a computer screen for a good portion of that time. Need a good distraction? Luckily we’ve recommended some of the best web performance books to read while stuck at home.

First off, we truly hope everyone reading this is safe and healthy. Whether you’re looking to wait out the stay-at-home orders while improving your skills, or you’re looking for something to read that doesn’t require staring at a screen, you’re in the right place.

These authors are experts and many have a ton of additional articles and resources that you can check out. And if you absolutely have to have it on a device, most of them are available via Kindle as well.

Let’s get started!

High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge For Front-End Engineers

High Performance Web Sites Cover

If you’re looking to read optimization ideas from one of the greatest minds in speed performance, look no further. Author Steve Souders writes about the best practices that he gained as the Chief Performance Yahoo!, and the Head Performance Engineer at Google. Resumes don’t get much better than that in this industry.

Souders presents his 14 rules throughout the course of the book while discussing the importance of front-end performance. The chapters and what you’ll learn in this book:

  • Make Fewer HTTP Requests
  • Use a Content Delivery Network
  • Add an Expires Header
  • Gzip Components
  • Put Stylesheets at the Top
  • Put Scripts at the Bottom
  • Avoid CSS Expressions
  • Make JAvaScript and CSS External
  • Reduce DNS Lookups
  • Minify JavaScripts
  • Avoid Redirects
  • Remove Duplicate Scripts
  • Configure ETags
  • Make Ajax Cacheable

Each performance chapter is supported by code snippets
(via a companion website) and examples to aid in learning. This is truly a complete picture of web optimization. If these rules can be applied to improving speeds at Yahoo! and Google, they’ll do wonders for your website!

Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices For Web Developers

Even Faster Websites

If you loved our first recommendation, then check out the sequel! Sounders, along with 8 expert contributors, expands upon the tips in the first book and offers best practices in JavaScript, network, and browser optimization.

This pair of books will make you an expert in shaving valuable seconds off of your site or application load times. In Even Faster Sites, you’ll become an expert in the following:

  • Understanding Ajax Performance
  • Creating Responsive Web Application
  • Splitting the Initial Payload
  • Loading Scripts Without Blocking
  • Coupling Asynchronous Scripts
  • Positioning Inline Scripts
  • Writing Efficient JavaScript
  • Scaling with Comet
  • Going Beyond Gzipping
  • Optimizing Images
  • Sharding Dominant Domains
  • Flushing the Document Early
  • Using iFrames Sparingly
  • Simplifying CSS Selectors

High Performance Images: Shrink, Load, and Deliver Images for Speed

high performance images

By now, you know that optimizing your images is the single most bang-for-your-buck way to improve the performance of your site. We’ve written on the subject in great depth before, but if you truly want to go deep into the subject, this book is perfect for you.

In High Performance Images, you’ll learn about various image files and formats (JPEG, SVG, Browser-Specific formats, etc) and when best to use each. Other chapters will take an in-depth look at image loading. You’ll learn how to implement lazy loading, image processing and consolidation, delivery, and how to create an image workflow.

This text consolidates work from 6 of the top experts in image optimization and includes topics that are hard to find in image optimization articles. After reading the chapters in this book, you’ll truly be a master in image optimization.

Professional Website Performance: Optimizing the Front-End and Back-End

professional website performance

The book is divided in 2 sections and covers pretty much everything in terms of web performance. You will start with the front end optimization (parallel downloading, compression, JS optimization) and then go behind the scene with tips about the back end optimization and performance (memcache, Redis, MySQL tuning tips, NGINX and HA proxy).

Definitely a must read for whoever is interested in web performance!

– Aurel V

While many articles and books on web performance discuss the front-end in great depth, this book by Peter Smith covers the back-end of your site or web application as well.

Developers and System Administrators alike will find incredible information between the covers. In addition to the staples of front-end optimization that many of the other books in this list include, Professional Website Performance dedicates a full chapter to each of the following topics:

  • Working with Web Servers
  • Tuning MySQL
  • MySQL in the Network
  • Utilizing NoSQL Solutions
  • Working with Secure Sockets Layer
  • Optimizing PHP

If you’re looking for the most complete guide in optimization strategies, look no further.

Web Performance in Action: Building Faster Web Pages

web performance in action book cover

Our final paperback recommendation is written by Jeremy Wagner, a professional front-end developer of over 10 years.

As his resume implies, this book focuses a great deal on the importance of front-end optimization.

Web Performance in Action is your companion guide to making websites faster. Throughout the course of this book, you’ll learn techniques that speed the delivery of your site’s assets to the user, increase rendering speed, and decrease the overall footprint of your site. You’ll also get a look at new technologies such as HTTP/2 that will take your website’s speed from merely adequate to seriously fast.

Source: Amazon

What truly sets this book apart from some of the others you’ll find is the way Jeremy teaches the reader how to build their own workflow that automates many of the common optimization techniques. This is invaluable as it gives you the tools to use these skills to optimize your client’s sites that much quicker.

Of all the books we’ve recommended, this one may be the best as far as turning web optimization into something you can monetize and offer to clients.

Summarizing the Best Web Performance Books

Again, we hope you’re staying safe and healthy wherever you are. If you’ve found yourself with extra time due to a stay-at-home order, we hope this guide will help you to find a book that suits your needs.

We’ll continue to add to this list on our Twitter as we find additional reads. Make sure to follow us there!

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