Improve Performance of Structured Navigation in SharePoint Online
One of our clients recently notified us that its SharePoint Online site was extremely slow. This was odd considering that none of our other customers were experiencing the same behavior. After some investigation, research, and a ticket with Microsoft, we learned that SharePoint Online's structured navigation feature was the gremlin in the engine. Related to this, here are some important articles to read.
•Navigation options for SharePoint Online - https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Navigation-options-for-SharePoint-Online-adb92b80-b342-4ecb-99a1-da2a2b4782eb?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&fromAR=1
•SharePoint Online publishing pages take longer than expected to load - https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2982720
•Diagnosing performance issues with SharePoint Online - https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Diagnosing-performance-issues-with-SharePoint-Online-3c364f9e-b9f6-4da4-a792-c8e8c8cd2e86?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US
The workaround in this case was to shift from using structured navigation to managed navigation. That's easy enough to do, but it's important to point out that managed navigation does not incorporate security trimming. This is a very important need for most of our customers.
Given that structured navigation is the simplest form of navigation configuration and management in SharePoint along with the fact that it includes security trimming, it is the ideal recommended starting point. However, as the number of subsites within a site collection increases, the time it takes to render pages also increases and given enough subsites, SharePoint pages take so long to load that it becomes frustrating. The result is that it can take longer to do something in SharePoint than it would to do that same thing elsewhere. One of the outcomes we're concerned about is that our customers will either move away from or never move to SharePoint Online.
Can the performance of structured navigation be improved for SharePoint Online?
Please try the option here and see if it helps.
Michelle sharepoint commented
I have been dealing with this exact problem. I have contacted Microsoft many times and done numerous tests for them and many on my own. It takes almost 10 sec to load our home page. That is really unacceptable. Other pages take a long time also but not that long. The home page has a lot of content but not an overload. Microsoft suggested the problem is structural navigation but after a lot of testing, that was not the case. I believe the combination of publishing pages and structural navigation that is causing the issue.
When I tested the load times on a different site collection ("Region") without very many users, about 50 compared to 5000 on the main site collection("Main"). Both of them use structural navigation but the number of users differ. Also, Region doesn't use a publishing page for the front page.
How I tested: Started Stopwatch at the same time I click refresh. Also stopped stopwatch when page loaded. Took average of three test.
What I tested on Main site collection: main home page, blank test home page, subsite
What I tested on Region site collection: main home page
Result: Non-publishing pages are the fastest with very little structural navigation; Both page types do worse with managed navigation.