FIFA World Cup website will crash at busy times

FIFA’s official website for the 2014 World Cup is teeming with basic design flaws that will lead to very slow load times and crashes during periods when matches are in progress.

Related: Millions migrating online for the 2014 World Cup: TV left in the dust

Technology performance company Compuware has conducted a “health check” on the desktop and mobile version of the site and found that there are basic errors that could easily be addressed that would improve performance when usage is high.

“It comes as a real surprise to see that, in reality, it has a number of very basic design flaws that could drag it down as it comes under pressure. Our analysis indicates strongly that page load times could become very slow during the World Cup tournament, or the website may even crash if demand is very high,” said Andreas Grabner, technology strategist, Compuware APM.

The first major issue identified was the large number of image files, including individual country flags and venue photos, which the mobile and desktop sites were downloading at a time. It’s something that could be easily solved by merging them together as a single “sprite” and doing this prevents severe performance problems when peak demand is present.

Further to this the desktop site downloads each individual flag twice, in large and small formats, meaning that it processes 64 individual requests just for flags. More than this the desktop browser has a very short expiration header that means the browser has to refresh its content every 60 seconds and these mistakes are the same ones that were present back in 2010.

Compuware also found that the Favicon, which is a small icon next to the address bar that allows it to be bookmarked, is unusually large on the FIFA World Cup site. Files of this type are normally just 1KB but FIFA’s is 370KB on both the mobile and desktop versions. Limiting this would reduce the page size by an impressive seven per cent.

Some of the site’s supporting code is also out of date with one JavaScript file three years old and this is one of the major reasons that Compuware noticed the mobile site crashing in the past.

Related: Businesses should prepare for World Cup productivity woes

Compuware will continue to monitor both versions of the site during the tournament and if FIFA doesn’t choose to update anything it’s likely that fans will desert the official site in droves.