Web Speed and Performance

Recently a study conducted by Yottaa from 125 eCommerce leaders showed the challenges they face between innovation and performance.

In the Yottaa study 97% of leaders said that they believe a faster site leads to increased eCommerce conversions? This has been supported consistently by studies from Kissmetrics and others. This seems to be common knowledge, but based on their measurements, 71% say shoppers don’t convert due to slow page load times. 72% say shoppers will only wait 2-3 seconds for a page to load or they will leave. Overall, 78% of IR 500 retailers know shoppers leaving their site due to slow page load times!

While most think in terms of building new features, expanding the capabilities of the channel or providing richer experience, most of the time they are deploying 3rd party technologies. These technologies can slow page times and impact conversions and revenue.  For example, in 2016 Nordstrom tried an online “dressing room” to engage customers in the buying process, but it failed because website slowed too much and sales dropped.

So how do you fix the issue with third party resources dragging on your site?

The most obvious place to start will be to generate a HAR waterfall. There are numerous tools to do so including those by Rigor, GTMetrix, Pingdom and others. This is merely a starting point. The source of the test and the location of your site’s servers will matter when testing. Whether your use CDN or not will matter. There are numerous factors.  As a starting point, if you see long bars in the waterfall for DNS lookups, third party font files, JavaScript files from a 3rd party service or more – then that should lead to further investigation.

What does that look like? It’s all about root cause analysis and determining if the embedded resource is needed.

For example, determine if you are still using that service. Sometimes functionality is left behind when switching or decommissioning services. A periodic audit of what is on the site can be helpful. Rigor has a tool part of their optimization suite called Content Explorer. This shows third party content in place as well as a visual representation of the size of that content. It also allows you to turn content on or off to essentially A/B test outcomes if that functionality is removed.  Other tools are available to help build inventories of technologies in place on a site. Builtwith is one of many and can help you understand the technologies in place.

Also, don’t just test the home page. Test your product pages. Test your landing pages.  Different parts of your site will utilize different tools and templates. It would be a shame to optimize around the home page alone, when in fact customers enter your site sideways through product searches, partners and campaigns.

This is just the beginning, website performance is an ongoing operational concern that will require ongoing monitoring, management and most importantly vigilance as websites continue to increase in complexity.