Blog / Does Sitefinity work in China?

Does Sitefinity work in China?

TLDR; Sitefinity doesn’t work in China, like it does in the rest of the world. Sitefinity websites take 38.3 seconds to load in China – 4.9x slower than they do outside of China. In terms of web content delivered, Sitefinity websites also fail to deliver an average of 35% web resources in China. 

In this article, we explain common reasons for poor China web performance that Sitefinity faces and introduce various ways to address them.

(8-minute read)

*defined by Fully Load.


What is Sitefinity?

Sitefinity is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and Web Content Management System (CMS) designed to deliver enterprise-level web experiences with minimal in-house effort.

Like most enterprise DXPs, Sitefinity leverages a an open CMS framework that can be used to deploy content simultaneously, across multiple sites, applications and devices.

How Sitefinity Portal Looks (Source: Progress Software)

Sitefinity is a product of Progress Software, which also owns a diverse portfolio of enterprise-focused products including Sitefinity Insight, Ucommerce for Sitefinity, and Sitefinity Cloud.


Who uses Sitefinity?

Sitefinity powers over 17,000 websites including The World Health Organisation, Everyday Health, and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States.

Source: Progress Software

Performance and reliability truly define enterprise-focused products such as Sitefinity.

So, how do these Sitefinity websites actually perform?


Sitefinity’s Performance

In the U.S., Sitefinity websites perform fantastically, but in China, they perform far from that.

We’ve taken a random sample of four Sitefinity websites and run how they load in China vs. California, U.S..

Here are the results:

On average, Sitefinity websites take 47.3 seconds to load from China

 (Source: Chinafy Visual Speed Test)

The smaller the gap, the better.

Sitefinity websites are ‘broken’ in China with ~35% resources lost*

*due to packet loss or compatibility issues (Source: Chinafy Visual Speed Test)

The higher the %, the better

Why Sitefinity websites don’t work well in China

These issues are not isolated to Sitefinity: All DXPs face a combination of infrastructure and code-based incompatibility in China that contribute to poor performance. We’ll go into more details below.

i) Infrastructural issues

The truth is that most western sites are not built with a China-friendly infrastructure in mind. While this may not impact a website’s performance massively in markets outside of China, China’s unique internet ecosystem creates challenges for these websites that inhibit them from delivering a usable, or reasonably functional experience.

Two key variables that impact performance in China come down to two things – hosting location and CDN providers.

Foreign companies tend to favour hosting their site close to where their core team is. For the majority of Sitefinity users, that would be in the U.S.

This practice means that China-based visitors face increased latency, reduced throughput and thus an overall longer loading experience.

See a graphic illustration of how a U.S.-hosted website would load for a China visitor vs another in Canada.

With regional performance variability, developers can normally add a CDN or rehost the site closer to the end user to resolve these issues. Unfortunately, that won’t do for China.

Most CDNs aren’t immune to slow network issues in China. Let’s take a look at how some of the biggest CDNs “work” in China.

(Source: China CDN Considerations)

Y-axis: Bandwidth (in kbps) | X-axis: Averaged over 20-periods 

Well, how about local China CDNs? 

After some research, you’ll find that that might not be so straightforward or the superior alternative.

Why? The reality is you must register yourself as an Internet Content Provider (ICP) with local authorities in China to host online information onshore. Acquiring a CDN service within China requires you to fulfil the same process.

What is an ICP?

The ICP process takes anywhere from 4 to 6 months or longer, requires a China onshore entity, not to mention, you may still have a broken (albeit faster) site. More on this below..


ii) Code-based incompatibility & 3rd-party resources

It’s common knowledge that Facebook or YouTube are inaccessible in China – but what is lesser known is they also don’t work as supporting resources on any websites.

Sitefinity websites are no exception.

Infamously common“culprits” include -

Google Map: maps.google.com
Facebook: connect.facebook.com
Vimeo player: player.vimeo.com
Google Translate: translate.googleapis.com

When a visitor in China attempts to load a Sitefinity website built with these inaccessible resources, only two things will happen:

They might see a partial website loading in 30+ seconds*

They might see nothing at all

To illustrate, take a look at the resource waterfall chart for visitors attempting to load past the “connect.facebook.com” resource below -

As you can see, resources after Facebook are only loaded at 35+ seconds.

Developers are free to remove them from Sitefinity websites if necessary. 

But you shouldn’t have to.


Can Sitefinity work well in China?

Sitefinity can be optimised to load fast and fully in China. Let’s evaluate some options below.

i) Host Sitefinity sites in China (i.e. the fully onshore route)

When it comes to regional hosting, the steps are usually to -

Build a new localised site

Get a regional server, and

Host it there

Sounds easy enough, but the case for China is much different (more below).

To host sites in China, you’re first legally required to become a licensed web content provider.

This is an ICP certificate.

Then, add 3 to 4 months of development to your timeline to build and launch a new local site.

And that’s not all. You’ll need to manage a list of blocked resources and find China-friendly alternatives on an ongoing basis to evolve your site for the sake of performance.

A fully onshore approach often costs between $42K to $100K upfront, with recurring costs and time needed to keep it running.

Already have an ICP? Or prefer the onshore route?
Contact Chinafy for more China Support.

You'll also see by now that onshore approach doesn't translate fully into performance - this requires a bit more work (more on this below). 

ii) Use a China CDN

It’s true that China CDN delivers some forms of acceleration in China, but…

All CDNs, including China CDNs, are limited in that they don’t resolve code-based incompatibility issues. YouTube embedded videos, Facebook trackers on Sitefinity websites will still be inaccessible.

In technical terms, CDNs don’t touch the application layer, and apply only to primary resources (no 3rd Party resources, which are the primary issue for resource incompatibility in China).

Chinafy vs CDN – which one do you need?


iii) Chinafy

Chinafy optimises all websites–including Sitefinity–to achieve near-native performance with an offshore set-up*.

Chinafy configures Sitefinity websites to generate a China-friendly version of the sites powered by best-in-class CDN for China delivery.

What is Chinafy?

The outcome is an optimised, fully-managed version of Sitefinity websites that’s 6-8x faster in China.

Don't just take our word. Take theirs...

Chinafy has made it possible for us to be sure our web visitors in China have the same good experience as all others in the rest of the world.

Michela Nalin Francek, Marketing Manager at Nolato

(Source: Chinafy)

Nolato uses Chinafy to optimise its investor relations portal – now 10x faster in China!


Anything else?

Using Chinafy also means that website owners can also -

Launch in China only takes an average of ~1.5-2 weeks

Deliver a VPN-free visitor experience in China

Optimise what you have without a separate site, local licences, or onshore hosting*

Continue to manage content from Sitefinity CMS as-is

Do you use Sitefinity? Test Sitefinity in China with Chinafy Visual Speed Test!


*Note: Chinafy also provides onshore CDN options via our industry-leading partners for companies who fulfil onshore hosting requirements. Company requirements may differ among industries and at a company’s internal discretion.

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