6 Lessons (+1) and Optimizations from 14 Years of Web Performance

Welcome to the wonderful world of web performance, where every millisecond counts and Fasterize has been the master for over 14 years. If you are an e-commerce manager or a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), this article is for you. Our goal? To share valuable insights and practical optimizations to ensure your site loads at lightning speed and your users are delighted.

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Why speed is key for m-commerce web sites

There are now some 5.052 billion mobile users, accounting for 67% of the world's population. And with WiFi and 4G now widely available, the pace of mobile activity is continually on the rise: mobile web traffic is up 21% over the previous year.

Beyond its usefulness to consumers, mobile commerce offers key advantages from a business perspective:

  • Tablet devices account for the highest add-to-cart rates on e-commerce websites at 8.58%. (Smart Insights)
  • Average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates. (CMS Report)

Alibaba is a prime example: “Mobile revenue for its Chinese e-commerce business increased 80 percent to US$13.18 billion, generating 80 percent of its total retail revenue in the country. Monetisation of its mobile commerce platforms outstripped that of desktop”.

Given this surge in mobile activity, there can be no doubt about it: e-commerce operators must eliminate any potential points of friction that users may experience on their web sites. Consumers are more demanding than ever and expect a slick and seamless experience. Speed is therefore among consumers' top requirements when it comes to the mobile experience. This then raises the question: how can we reduce loading times on our mobile web site?

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Why is a performance budget key to your web performance success?

As guarantors of web performance, any IT and Marketing team should set up a Performance Budget.

This concept first appeared in 2013. When we refer to a Performance Budget, we are not talking about a budget in the financial sense of the word. A Performance Budget means setting a performance threshold that you hope to stay within. Hence, it is not expressed in pounds or dollars but in terms of a metric such as seconds, page weight or number of files. Have you never established one yet? Now may be the time to get started, we’ll explain why and how.

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Third party tags: their impact on web performance

Webperf and third parties study

An increasing number of third party services are now being incorporated into today's web sites. In 2012, a typical web page contained an average of 13 third party scripts or "tags". Today, our Top 40 analysis of French e-commerce web sites shows that this number has risen to an average of 21 third party tags, an increase of 62%.

These third party services provide added value, with the promise of increased revenue (e.g. via advertising), higher conversion rates (through the use of retargeting tags) or a better understanding of user profiles (through embedded analytics).

But they also have a poor reputation when it comes to their impact on performance! A number of studies have attempted to prove this in the past (including studies such as those conducted by Instart Logic and NCC Group), and it forms a key part of the rationale behind ad blockers (a topic we will come back to in a future article).

We were keen to find out just how much of an impact these various third party widgets would have on the monthly web performance rankings published on JDN.

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Web performance is not a matter of technique

When you work in the web performance world, you’re constantly reading blog posts about new techniques or new hacks that are implemented or tried on new website / Single Page app / mobile website / CMS. You also meet a lot of people telling you that “yes we do some concatenation, minification, whatever … but mhhh … not for this because it’s outside the deployment process … “. Or you see people trying to speed up their websites without monitoring anything.

So instead of focusing on techniques, shouldn’t we watch the side aspects of web performance as being as important as techniques?

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