Survey Finds Website’s Are 9% Slower Than 2011 – 9/18/12

Survey of 2,000 top retail websites finds that sites are 9% slower than in 2011

Survey Finds Website's Are 9 percent Slower Than 2011E-commerce web pages are 9% slower than they were in 2011, page sizes are growing rapidly, and Internet Explorer 10 is the fastest of the major browsers. These were among the key findings of the quarterly State of the Union: E-Commerce Page Speed and Website Performance report by site acceleration leader Strangeloop Networks.

The report contains performance data from 2,000 of the world’s top retail websites as ranked by Alexa.com. Each site was tested using a tool called WebPagetest, an open-source project primarily supported by Google, which simulates how pages perform for real-world users across major browsers, including Chrome 20, Firefox 13, and Internet Explorer 10.

“These tests are important because they focus on the user experience,” says Strangeloop CEO Jonathan Bixby. “Site owners are offered measurement statistics from many sources – employees, IT departments, CDNs – and these numbers can sometimes contradict each other. This report takes us back to what matters most: the real user experience for retail customers shopping via each major browser.”

A quick summary of the report’s key findings:

  • Pages are 9% slower than they were last year. The median load time for first-time visitors to an Alexa Retail 2000 home page is now 6.5 seconds, up from 5.94 seconds in November 2011. This trend threatens to widen the gulf between user expectations and actual performance.
  • Page sizes have increased by 5%. The median page now requires 77 server round trips, up from 73 in 2011. Round trips are made between the user’s browser and the host server(s) to load objects such as images and CSS files. A typical round trip takes between 20 and 50 milliseconds, hence the need to reduce round trips in order to serve pages faster.
  • Load times for top sites are even slower than the rest of the pack. While the median load time on the Alexa Retail 2000 is 9% slower, the top 100 sites saw a 12% drop. The primary reason: Top-ranked sites are more content-rich, requiring 100 resource round trips, 34% more than the Alexa 2000 median of 77.

These findings show a collision between trends, with rapidly increasing page sizes tempering advances in network and browser performance. They also demonstrate that, despite increasing awareness of the impact of poor web performance on revenues — Amazon.com reports that a mere 100-millisecond lag in performance affects revenues by 1% — many major retailers may be missing out on the opportunity to maximize sales.

“This data tells us that when it comes to performance, many retailers are still leaving money on the table,” says Bixby. “Site owners should be conducting routine tests across a variety of browsers. They should be measuring performance using a variety of metrics, and they need to ensure third-party scripts have been optimized. Implementing these basic performance tenets will drastically improve revenue.”

Strangeloop has undertaken this performance survey annually since 2010. This release marks its migration to a quarterly report.

Download a free copy of State of the Union: E-commerce Page Speed and Website Performance at: http://www.strangeloopnetworks.com/fall-2012-state-of-the-union/

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