Avoiding the Grinch this Holiday Season: Reduce 3rd Party Content

A few years ago, 3rd party content was regarded as a necessary evil required for certain capabilities like presenting syndicated advertising and collecting visitor analytics data. Today, there are often multiple domains serving every Web page and 3rd party participation in user experience is a crucial part of almost every website.

On many websites today, this type of content has goneberserk. The most common 3rd party sources are:

 

  • Web analytics: Coremetrics, Omniture (Adobe) and Google Analytics
  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+
  • Content: Product reviews
  • CDNs: Akamai, Limelight, Cloudfront (Amazon)
  • Image and Carousel management: Doubleclick

As we enter the final stretch of the online holiday shopping season, many 3rd party content providers - because they serve so many retailers - are under very high load conditions due to the generally high retail traffic. This overload has the potential to negatively impact user experience on your site at the worst possible time.

This data from Steve Souders provides a glimpse into how to understand the impact of various 3rd party components on the Web experience.*

Here are my big three recommendations for getting the most out of traffic on your site through the end of 2012:

  1. Turn off non-essential 3rd party content on your website during peak shopping days. These will be the times when service providers/vendors, the same ones that serve many retailers, will be under incredible shared load, and you don't need that impacting bounce rates, time on site, page views, conversions or order sizes.
  2. Reduce, to as little as possible, the 3rd party calls on your mobile websites. Mobile connections are not efficient at handling multiple simultaneous connections and failure to recognize this can cause severe web performance problems for users.
  3. Finally, ensure that you're using the latest 3rd party scripts that are non-blocking or asynchronous. Here's a little chart that shows a significant performance impact from a 3rd party call to web analytics.

AlertSite 3rd party graph 

*The data presented is two years old, but still provides a generally accurate portrayal of the impact of 3rd party providers. 

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