Whose Website Is It, Anyway? It looks a lot like your website. It’s your URL up there in the address bar, and there’s your logo at the top of the page. But how much of what you see is really yours? And how much is happening in the background that you don’t see and that’s not yours?
The age of Web 2.0 is fully here. One of the most salient features it has brought is the aggregation of content and functionality from multiple sources, in real time, onto the pages of websites. It’s a phenomenon that has developed steadily over the past several years to where today, externally sourced content is commonplace on most major websites. But because it grew relatively slowly (in Internet time), the need for external content strategies never seemed particularly urgent.
“It’s sort of like the old metaphor of the frog in a warm pot of water,” says Dave Karow, senior product manager for Keynote Systems. “You can turn up the water slowly and he’ll just basically stew, but if you put him right into a hot pot of water he’ll jump out. The technical capability for multiple sources of content has been there for a long, long time. And over time, more and more companies came to build their solutions as composite applications where components come from drastically different places.
“And then people woke up one day and thought, wow, I have control of what’s behind my firewall, but two-thirds of my Web content is coming from somewhere else.”
This multi-sourced content helps to create rich user experiences and to empower site owners with valuable analytical and tracking data. But it is also a pesky and elusive culprit in undermining performance and the very user experience it seeks to enrich. Understanding the performance ramifications of third-party content takes some detective work — but the financial consequences of ignoring it can be significant.