Velocity 2013: Web Performance Takeaways for SMBs (Part 1) / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Velocity 2013 shared tips for web page performance that are useful to small-to-medium sized businesses. Here are some of the most impactful

As you may or may not know, last month the 6th Annual Velocity Conference was held in Santa Clara, CA. Velocity is a gathering for the Web Operations, Web Performance and emerging DevOps communities to come together and discuss new technologies, processes as well as the state of the industry and the web as a whole. For a little background on the conference and its beginnings you can read a recent post by Tim O’Reilly here. While attending I found myself thinking about the fact there was great info being shared that would be useful to small-to-medium sized businesses who did not have the internal staff or platform scale to warrant attendance. Below are some of the most impactful takeaways you can apply to your own business.

Performance Matters!

Do you know what the performance of your website is? Do you know how quickly it loads for users in various places in the country (or the world if you operate internationally)? What is the uptime of your site? If you don’t have the answers to these questions you need to work to get them right away. There are many paid monitoring services that can provide you this data (as well as many other data points) such as Catchpoint, Keynote and Gomez. There is also a fantastic and free tool called WebPageTest, that has become an industry standard. Simply enter a url and choose a location and browser you’d like to test from and WebPageTest will provide you will a waterfall breakdown of your page and the time it takes to render to a simulated user. In addition, WebPageTest along with other free tools like Yahoo’s YSlow! and Google PageSpeed will provide you with best practices suggestions for performance improvements when they analyze your pages. The main point is that if you aren’t watching performance regularly, it WILL decline, not to mention that search engines like Google and Bing look at performance as an indicator for their ranking algorithms. If you generate sales of any kind on your site this is even more important. Here are a few statistics that showcase some of the impacts web performance can have:

  • If Amazon pages load one tenth of a second slower, they lose 1% of sales
    52% of users claim that quick page loads are important to their loyalty to the site (Akamai)
  • If Google’s pages load half a second slower, they lose 25% of their search volume
    Facebook pages that are half a second slower see a 3% reduction in traffic, a full second slower is 6% less (Velocity China)

Mobile Continues to Grow Rapidly

As expected there was a lot of talk about mobile this year. Statistics around the sale and adoption of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are staggering and mobile traffic is already up 78% year over year in Q1 alone! Hot discussion topics involving mobile were HTML5/CSS3 that provides functionality previously only available via Javascript (which historically has run slower on mobile devices due to lesser processing power) and Responsive Design. Responsive Design is a technique used to build web pages where the content on the page will adapt to the device the user is viewing the page on. The layout may shift, images will shrink or grow, some content may be truncated, etc. This has now become the preferred method for delivering a targeted mobile experience as opposed to the previous technique of redirecting users to a mobile focused sub-domain with a unique experience.

A well known example of Responsive Design is The Boston Globe’s new site, visit from your desktop and then narrow the width of the window to see how it responds. Mobile does present several challenges of its own with regard to performance, different than those faced by traditional browsers. One example is that mobile data connections are often high latency, meaning that the total round trip time for data from the server to the device for a mobile user is much higher than a typical user and so performance optimization techniques will probably be different.

Related: The Technology Behind Your Mobile Conversions: Lining It Up for Killer Sales

There is an additional level of complexity when dealing with Responsive layouts, since they are targeted to both mobile and traditional users. You’ll want to look at your data in Google Analytics or whatever other web analytics platform you use to determine what percentage of your users are accessing your site via mobile before making the decision on whether or not to invest in this area. You’ll also want to consider the impact of mobile responsiveness design on page performance.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for Part 2 on Javascript coming up next week!

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