The five most common performance issues of ecommerce sites
Second in a series looking at how well online stores are prepared for the holidays. See the first post here.
Time is money, especially for online retailers.No one wants to waste time waiting for a site to load. The good news is that most online retailers understand this. The bad news? Well, not all retailers have figured out the speed challenge. The fact is, there are a lot of factors that come into play in keeping a retail site competitive. The real challenge is not simply to be lightning fast, but to be lightning fast while also addressing a host of other challenges from usability to interactivity.
Achieving optimal speed and overall performance is a challenge but it is also quite possible if you break it down and tackle all the separate issues that can erode performance. In this post, I highlight five common issues that impact speed and overall performance for retail websites:
1. The page size is big and poorly optimized.
Last year, the typical page on an ecommerce site contained 82 resource requests. Over just the past year, that number has jumped to 100. Pages are getting bigger and more complex, with more images and third party scripts like social buttons and ads. With the average web page now containing more than a megabyte of data, we’ve reached a point where we can say bigger is not necessarily better. It’s bad news for site owners and for users in general.
3. Images are not optimized.
One of the greatest performance drains on many sites is the need to complete several network round trips to retrieve page resources such as style sheets, scripts, and images. If the images on the page are not properly optimized, they can become a burden and take up disproportionate amounts of bandwidth. By taking care to optimize images, online retailers can often see significant byte savings and performance improvements.
4. The site is poorly optimized for responsive web design.
Responsive web design (RWD) involves creating a site that adjusts for different devices, and scaling down text to offer a bare bones web page featuring only the main text and images, in order to accommodate different mobile devices . In today’s environment where more and more shoppers are accessing web pages from mobile devices with small screens, responsive web design really needs to be a critical part of building a website. Unfortunately, many e-commerce sites underestimate the impact of non-responsive sites.
5. There are too many static assets without a CDN.
This is another factor that is often overlooked, but it is important to keep in mind that the user’s proximity to your web server can have a significant impact on response times. Therefore, deploying your content across multiple, geographically dispersed servers makes the most sense: it will help ensure your pages load faster for more users. Retailers that keep all the site’s static assets such images in a single centralized location will significantly slow down and serialize the process of loading web pages. Using a content delivery network (CDN) enables browsers to download the assets from your site on independent threads, which can make a page load a lot faster.
I’ll explore some of the solutions to these and other issues in depth in future posts.