To understand the complex relationship governing transcript abundance and the level of the encoded protein, we integrate genome-wide experimental data of ribosomal density on mRNAs with a novel stochastic model describing ribosome traffic dynamics during translation elongation. This analysis reveals that codon arrangement, rather than simply codon bias, has a key role in determining translational efficiency. It also reveals that translation output is governed both by initiation efficiency and elongation dynamics. By integrating genome-wide experimental data sets with simulation of ribosome traffic on all Saccharomyces cerevisiae ORFs, mRNA-specific translation initiation rates are for the first time estimated across the entire transcriptome. Our analysis identifies different classes of mRNAs characterised by their initiation rates, their ribosome traffic dynamics, and by their response to ribosome availability. Strikingly, this classification based on translational dynamics maps onto key gene ontological classifications, revealing evolutionary optimisation of translation responses to be strongly influenced by gene function.