The worst thing you can do to your home page — don’t slow it down on purpose!

This one will be short, because there simply isn’t that much to say. Your home page is one of the most important pages on your site in terms of the visitor’s experience. If your site requires registration, authentication or identification, nearly all users must go through this page. It is the proverbial front door to your site and application.

On a recent load test, the test had to be aborted after 9 minutes, while they were only at 25% of the planned total load level of 385,000 sessions per hour. They were using a LAMJ architecture, and each home page hit generated a long running SQL query. Even very patient users, who are tolerant to slowdowns and errors, will not stick around if the home page takes several minutes. However, this site didn’t even do that! After 2 minutes into the test, the pages simply said

Whoops! The social network is currently down for maintenance. Please be patient, we’re working on it! “

As you may imagine, their home page is now very fast–0.07 seconds in fact. That is a very fast error message that every user is seeing on the home page, and it would deliver the same for every other page too if the user actually made it that far. I don’t think I need to mention the usefulness of all users seeing that error message.

What caused this slowdown and crash you may ask? I’m glad you did. The long running queries exhausted the JDBC connection pool and maxed out the available number of connections, which is what caused the immediate error page.

The only good thing I can say is at least they didn’t just print stack traces with DSN information contained in them. I’ve been shocked at the content of some of the stack traces I’ve seen on production sites when they encounter an error, but that’s another post.

Things to avoid if you’re sending me a resume

The job market is on the decline.  Some major web sites have either closed completely or are decreasing staff/closing stores.  Fox’s article on Squawkfox 6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck is spot on with what I look for.

Go read the article, then come back here.

Alright, now that you’re back, think about what I want to see.

  • Don’t tell me you’re a good communicator, show me your’re a good communicator.  Spelling and grammar errors turn me off faster than Douglas Adams’ fetid dingo kidneys. In today’s electronic medium, communication is more often via bits than spoken word.  A poorly written resume is not worth the time you took to send it.
  • Don’t tell me you’re experienced.  Especially don’t tell me you have “extensive experience” with something.  That could mean that your 2 weeks of letting the guy in the cube next to you code in Mono makes you have the equivalent of 5-8 years of someone else.  I don’t buy it!  I want lists of your experience, when you gained the experience and what projects you used it on.
  • The Squawkfox article mentions “Team Player”, but I’m interested in prospects who can work independently.  I like that you can work in a team, and I want you to think about the big picture, but I don’t have time to baby sit and I cannot stand micro-managers.  If I have to micromanage someone, it will only be for a very short time while I give them careful directions to HR.
  • Be ready to explain gaps in your work history, or even worse, why you worked on so many projects.  If you worked with several customers while at your consulting job, list them under the same job heading.  I want someone who will stick with my project and complete it, not use me to help you find another job or even worse, work on your own company on the side.

Having a good resume is not hard, and I actually read most of the ones I get.  Be concise, be confident and remember that the true purpose of a resume isn’t to get you a job but to get you an interview.