Users Like Cool Stuff, But Will They Wait For It?

  April 21, 2015

I just finished reading RadWare’s new report on Page Speed and Web Performance.  Their analysis shows how performance relates to how web pages are built and delivered.  Surprisingly, what they found was that despite the known effect performance has on web page conversions the top website’s performance is not good. The median time to interact with a site was 5.2 seconds, well above the 3-second threshold to prevent page abandonment.

The median page size and complexity has increased significantly over the last year, to a median page size of 1354 KB and 108 resource requests.  Most surprising to me, was that despite the fact that images comprise 50-60% of the average page’s total weight, 43% of the top 100 sites failed to implement image compression.  It appears that despite understanding that poor performance is bad for business, businesses don’t understand what poor website performance is.  In fact, it seems like they are creating poor end user experience in the name of “upgrading” their websites.

Complexity of websites and the prevalence of third party contributors to a website cannot be underestimated in terms of the possibility of a performance hit.  You cannot assume that third parties are performing properly.  If you have a mapping service on the website of your store locator, and it isn’t working, then it’s your fault in the eyes of the user, not the 3rd party mapping service. The user experience of your website is your responsibility.

One solution to this problem would be to monitor your critical business transactions continuously, from the user’s perspective, in order to see the performance of specific graphics, hosts, or services that slow your webpages down.  From there, they can be easily optimized. If you had a baseline for your webpage performance, against which you could compare new element deployment, you would see any changes immediately.

Radware’s study highlights the tension between delivering new features quickly, providing eye catching engaging experiences on websites, and the need to always be conscious of the impact the cool new stuff has on actual delivery.

Our monitoring solution, AlertSite UXM, includes an advanced web recorder so that you can replicate exactly what a user does on your site.  By using an actual browser and completing all the steps, you can then see the specific item responsible for any performance issues. Tracking these trends is the first step, bringing them to your own field of control is the next.

Link to the RadWare research:   State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance Report Spring 2015