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Is Optimization Worth It?

Unoptimized code introduces unnecessary kinks and slow-downs

I have probably spent hundreds of hours optimizing different aspects of our business. If the purpose of optimizing is to save time, reduce workload, and everything else that goes with it (including stress), why do I spend so much extra time doing extra work?

It pays off.

To give you an example: last year we had a large amount of data entry needed for one of our systems. I calculated the number of man-hours it would take (based on the average time a few people spent who had been doing the data entry) and the estimate exceeded 950 hours.

To give some perspective on those hours, that is nearly 40 days of non-stop work. I spent ten hours of my time optimizing and cut those 950 hours to around 150 hours.

In a coding perspective, if I can make a page load two seconds faster, that does not seem like a big, worthwhile change. If that page, however, is loaded 5 million times, that’s over 115 days of saved man-hours.

Let’s look at Facebook. As of 2010 they were getting 570 billion page views a month. Yes, you read that correctly. They have done more optimization to their code than any other website or web system I know. Here is a comment from Facebook’s team for their programmers:

“Adding a single line to this file requires great internal reflection and thought. You must ask yourself if your one line addition is so important, so critical to the success of the company, that it warrants a slowdown for every user on every page load. Adding a single letter here could cost thousands of man-hours around the world.

That is all.”
– How Facebook Jacked Up JavaScript Performance

Coming back to the question, “Is it worth it to spend a little extra time optimizing your website, your production, or your company’s organization?” The answer is, “Yes,” the extra time spent now can save you exponentially more time in the future.

Optimized code makes things easy, clean, and efficient.