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Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 16, 2009 | Ecommerce | Andrew Kamphuis

Speed Sells

Are slow loading web pages causing you to lose purchasers?

The holiday season is the busiest season for winery websites. If your site isn't optimized for the load, you're selling yourself short. Earlier this month Get Elastic posted some of the research from Forrester Research on web page loading speed on their blog. Here are a few notible excerpts:

  • Next to pricing and shipping issues, poor site performance is a major cause of dissatisfaction.
  • Overall, 52% of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.
  • 61% of online shoppers who spend more than $1,500 online per year insist on pages loading quickly.
  • After a poor site experience, 27% are less likely to buy from that retailer off-line.
  • Not only does an under-performing site lead to customer frustration, but 64% of shoppers state they will simply purchase from another online store.
  • 40% would abandon if it takes more than 3 seconds

There are 3 factors that cause slow loading pages.

1) The webserver is slow. There is a trend (especially in ecommerce) to have more dynamic content which places a larger load on webservers. Webservers can become slow because there is too much traffic, the database may be slow, the hardware might be under powered, and/or the software application may not be optimally constructed. There are a number of ways to combat slow webservers such as load balancing, caching queries, adding more hardware, and reviewing overall code architecture. There are lots of load testing tools available to web developers and your developer should have a sense of how much traffic their webserver can hold.

2) The web page has large images, lots of images, large flash files, or is poorly constructed. Obviously larger images, more images, and large flash content all take longer to load. There are ways to combat slow pages including using a content delivery network, ensuring images, css, and scripts are cached, compressing and/or minimizing files, and using preloaders. Your web developer should be able to tell you the overall size of your web page and give you options to have it load faster. (Tools like YSlow make this really easy.)

3) Connection speeds are slow. Internet service providers don't always provide the connection speeds they advertise. We still see a decent percentage of traffic that is still on dial up networks. Your web page probably still needs to cater to a percentage of dialup users. (Your analytic software may give you a sense of what percentage of traffic is still on a dialup connection.)

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The holiday season is almost here. It's probably a good time to ensure that your website is performing at an optimal speed before the traffic increases.

Comments

Mike Duffy's Gravatar
 
Mike Duffy
@ Nov 16, 2009 at 12:11 PM
So, how does a winery that wants to test site response go about doing it? Obviously, Vin65 can help them, but are there experts or do-it-yourself approaches that a winery can use?

Andrew Kamphuis's Gravatar
 
Andrew Kamphuis
@ Nov 16, 2009 at 1:26 PM
Great question. It depends on the technical skill at the winery. If they are techie they should look at tools such as YSlow (my personal favorite - http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/) or Page Speed from Google (http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/)

Both of these tools will assist in optimizing the page load (#2 in my blog post). They both will report total page load time, etc (but they won't help you troubleshoot a slow server).

Mike's Gravatar
 
Mike
@ Mar 9, 2011 at 4:17 AM
Page loading time is also quickly becoming an important SEO factor. There are many good advices within the Page Speed addon to Firebug. Also Chrome has now a feature for optimizing page speed.

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