“Make your web pages fast on all devices.”
“Don’t let a slow website cost you revenue!”
What do those statement make you worry about if you are responsible for running an Ecommerce site? Do you know what kind of conversation you’d need to have? Common requests that we get at SD are, “I need to improve Performance,” or “Our site is slow.” What should you do if a customer complains that it takes too long for a page to load? How do you define what kind of traffic your site can handle?
“Performance” is often used as an umbrella term for several aspects of your site. We want you to feel empowered to use more concise language, so let’s define what you are likely referring to:
Site speed is the average time it takes for the end user to start consuming pages on your site. The factors that undermine site speed are varied, common ones are:
- Image file size and how they load
- Bulky or unused custom code
The importance of site speed is not going to be elaborated on; high conversion rates, low bounce rates and ranking are all benefits that we’re going to assume you know (and want).
There are a number of tools out there that are free and extremely tempting to rely on as benchmarks or even standards, for site speed. As with all things that are free, they should be treated with caution; those tools are often setup to convince you of a specific brand of resolution, which may have nothing to do with your business, since they’re meant to be generic. The best way to understand what’s happening on your site is perform a reliable audit, whether using a reputable tool or professional resource such as your agency partner.
Understanding how your site would perform under increased or expanded workload if often a temporary or seasonal concern, but more and more businesses are realizing the benefit of always knowing exactly how your site might react under any level of strain. 2020 certainly made that awareness more valuable, and also exposed how little some might be able to speak to the assessment of infrastructure capabilities. As part of a measure of scalability, load testing clarifies how much concurrent traffic your infrastructure can handle. Not only should you understand what your site can handle, but you should also be aware of what kind of traffic would potentially bring it down. Given today’s ever changing buying habits, this is now prerequisite information.
Oftentimes, the way a page might load slowly for a customer is just the tip of an iceberg. You need to be able to take that pain point, outline what might be causing it, and then decide how you validate that and resolve it. “Acknowledging that your site might have some underlying issues that you can’t see on the surface is the first step.” -Neil Patel
Hopefully you’re now armed to have a more productive conversation around site speed and scalability; whether you’re highlighting concerns or requesting enhancements. We challenge you to move away from throwing around the word “Performance” and address these initiatives with intentional specificity.