Have you ever changed your mind about seeing a movie because the line outside the theater was too long? Have you ever decided to go to a different restaurant after the host estimated a 40-minute wait for a table? If so, you’ve done exactly what web surfers do in large numbers every time they hit a slow website.
In the physical world, it’s difficult to design a movie theater so that it makes sense, economically speaking, for the premiere of Spiderman 5 as well as for a quiet Monday afternoon. But on the web, this is a problem that can be solved and that some of the best in the business are actively solving right now.
Thankfully, a small yet growing number of e-commerce owners are realizing that performance is a top priority and that it requires both speed and capacity. We see it every day at loadimpact.com because e-commerce sites are well represented among our clients. We also see it in the data we compiled for our latest State of Web Readiness report – which includes data from over 5,000 load tests and the survey responses of roughly 500 website owners.
In fact, about 30 percent of survey respondents claim to have no stability or performance problems, while about 30 percent of respondents also said they regularly do preventive load testing before technical changes. Coincidence? Probably not.
You’ve heard all this before, but it’s worth repeating. Visitors to e-commerce sites expect page load times under 2.0 seconds. But as you can see from the infographic, as latency increases, you’re likely to see a lot fewer conversions. A 0.1 second increase will decrease conversions by about 1 percent. Ok, not too bad. But it quickly gets worse. A load time increase of 1.0 second will reduce the number of conversions by up to 15 percent, and at a 5.0 second increase, you can expect up to a 75 percent drop in conversions.
Unfortunately, unlike in the physical world, it’s not just the late arrivals who leave when your site is slow, it’s everyone — including that customer who was just about to click the checkout button.
What we’ve realized is that there exists two groups of e-commerce sites. We have one group of maturing sites that already have performance as a first grade requirement. Members of this group are actively using good performance as a differentiator and they gladly welcome customers from slower sites. They know quite a lot about their current capacity and most of them probably have a plan for how to reach higher levels.
Then we have the other group, the one you don’t want to belong to. If you’re in this group, you probably overestimate your capacity by roughly 3.4 times – which is what our study found the average overestimation to be among e-commerce site owners. And, like our study revealed, there’s a 50 percent chance that you’ll blame your bad performance on a simple lack of resources. Finally, when looking at the numbers, you’re most likely looking at logs and other historical data rather than the data provided by an actual load test.
What should you do if you’re in the second group but want to move to the first? Well, in our opinion, it starts with one single decision. From now on, just decide that performance is a top priority. You’ve probably already done this with security — no feature is important enough to jeopardize your security. Right?! Well, consider load speed and capacity just as critical.
Once you’ve made up your mind, embrace the tools and technologies that are out there to help you. Use the best cloud hosting services you can find, ones that let you scale out and up with ease. Use CDNs for your static content, minify your scripts, optimize your database, adjust your image quality. Just do it all!
One more piece of advice: don’t do all of this blind or based solely on historical data. There are great cloud-based tools that can help you measure both speed and performance with ease. Make them part of your plan.