Domain name servers
The web domains we know use them: a domain name server routes internet traffic for www.ExternalDesign.com to the web server whose IP address is 184.108.40.206 (or something). DNS maps the names we humans use to the numbers that identify a specific destination or resource.
For most, DNS is an afterthought at best, part of the package when we register a domain name. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. Maybe that’s because changing the DNS can feel like walking on eggshells in a minefield. When DNS settings go wrong, your web site becomes unreachable until someone fixes it. Maybe that domain’s email, too.
Affecting users & influencing search engines
It’s said that many web-site visitors abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. If better user experience isn’t enough enticement, Google is widely believed to reward sites with improved search results if they have good PageSpeed scores. Parking your domains with a budget outfit’s DNS is penalizing your site and its visitors with each hit, 24/7/365, forever and ever. Until you make a change.
We can’t directly control many things in this world, but this one we can. And the cost for faster DNS is far from prohibitive, so we think even a small speed improvement justifies the bother. How much difference could it make? Each case is different, but the figure shows what happened when this site went through one such change.
Test your own nameservers’ performance, at UltraTools and similar free services. For example, we spot-checked a few random domains registered at discount services. We found AAAA records required average times like 45 ms., 28 ms., 70 ms. There also were many sites with times of 2 milliseconds. Obviously, we have more to learn (as always). We’re glad this topic is on the radar now, and with measurable results.
Summary of DNS speed improvement
If you don’t have an eye for the details: focusing on the AAAA record (the first column), the average response times of 49 milliseconds were slashed to 19 milliseconds. That 30 ms. saved is a 47.5% improvement for each call to the web server. And a web site may load a dozen files or more — especially CMS-based sites like those that run on WordPress. Taking a conservative approach and keeping the math simple, 10 files for a web page means 10 HTTP requests that go through DNS. Saving 30 ms. ten times adds up to nearly one-third of a second.
That alone can make the difference between a web site feeling slightly “soft,” sluggish, or even boring. User experience (UX) is sensitive to astonishingly small increments of time, and affects how the user perceives your content.
The internet fast lane demands that we pay attention to the milliseconds.