Mick I'm one of the co-founders of WebTuna Software.

Keeping intranet home pages lean

Keeping intranet home pages lean

At WebTuna we monitor a lot of intranets for customers, many of which are built using Microsoft SharePoint.

We mostly find that the number of hits on the home page is much larger than the other pages, often by an order of magnitude, as companies push their intranet home page to employees as the default page whenever they open their browser.

But not only is the home page the most heavily hit but in the majority of cases we also find it is the slowest! But why is that? Is it simply because it is the first page to be hit and therefore the browser doesn’t have any of the page resources such as CSS, JavaScript or images cached? Well that could be a possibility except for the statement above: it is the most heavily hit page and therefore the one most likely to have its resources cached in the users browser.

Doing some analysis using WebTuna data we find that the home page is slowest because of the tendency of companies to bloat the home page with as much content as possible and customisations. So many times we find that corporate comms have decided to add as much as possible to the home page when it isn’t needed. This only causes frustrated users and poor user perception of the intranet overall.

Here is an anonymized screenshot from WebTuna showing the home.aspx page taking a whopping 10.12 seconds on average to load whilst the other pages are loading in 1 to 4 seconds.


In some cases we have found customers with custom “Web Parts” that are simply not needed. One example was an email Web Part which displayed the top 5 items from your Inbox in a small area of the intranet home page. This was not very functional. And think about it, why would I ever go to the intranet home page to check my mail rather than going to my email client? The best part was that the server side code was so intensive that it maxed out all the CPU cores across 4 web frontend servers!

In other cases we have seen the problem to be the weight of content, with the home page weighing in at several megabytes in size. In one particular example we found an image carousel showing images that were 8MB each in size. These were digital camera images which had not been resized for web use. The images were so large that the part of the image that was visible in the image carousel was actually just a small white square from the corner of these enormous images.

For most employees it is seen as an annoyance when they open their browser wanting to head to another site and they are faced with the intranet home page instead. Factor in a bloated page that is slow to load and the user experience suffers further.

We recommend keeping your intranet home page lean and quick for the most satisfied users. Oh yes and don’t forget to monitor it with WebTuna :) That way you can keep on top of the usage and performance stats to show that the intranet is performing well and being used.