Third-party tools and scripts can serve a number of functions. On Rigor’s marketing website, we often add scripts for third-party services that can help us measure or draw attention to specific campaigns. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow best practices for managing the presence of these scripts. Sometimes scripts can go overlooked, which can ultimately impact the performance and user experience of our marketing site.
In this blog post, we’ll walk through how Rigor’s Marketing Team uses Rigor Monitoring and Optimization to audit and manage third-party content.
Auditing for Third-parties
When we run a scan with Rigor Optimization, we can use the Content Explorer to discover what makes up the content for a specific page on our site. For example, when we review this scan of our recently released PageSpeed Insights eBook:
right away we notice that this page is loading scripts from:
- Wistia – an awesome service for hosting and tracking video content
- Disqus – a popular plugin for blog comments, and
- Hello Bar – an unobtrusive web plugin for serving announcements and soliciting subscriptions
even though none of these services are currently being utilized on our online eBook page.
Rigor Optimization’s Content Explorer enables us to manage the content of our marketing pages. We can easily see what resources are loading in and how large those resources are in comparison to the total size of our pages. Without much effort, we know that we could remove these three resources to ensure that our eBook loads faster.
But, how much faster?
A/B Testing Performance with Rigor Monitoring
In some cases, we may need to prove the business case for removing an asset from a page. For example, maybe:
- You don’t have access to your site’s code to make the change yourself. Will improved load time worth benefits outweigh the cost of resources to update your site?
- Other teams or departments at your company rely on the third-party scripts. Does the benefit of loading the third-party content outweigh the performance cost?
In Rigor Monitoring, we can use Real Browser Checks with Excluded Files to easily A/B test how much faster our site would be without any given resource. We can make this comparison without updating the code on our live site. Rigor can simulate loading the page without any specific resource. For example, we can run two Real Browser Checks – one of our eBook page with the current configuration and one excluding Hello Bar. When we review the results, we can see that on average the page would load half a second faster without the Hello Bar script.
Furthermore, with Rigor’s Domain Performance Report we can view trends for the performance of this specific third-party domain over time.
Based on the results of the A/B test, we could easily remove the un-used Hello Bar resources with confidence. This half-a-second load time would represent a significant improvement in the load time of this page.
Proactively Managing Third-parties
While we should all be prepared to react to third-party performance problems, it’s even better to prevent them. When used as part of the development lifecycle, Rigor Monitoring and Optimization can help ensure that your team only adds third-party services that don’t negatively impact performance above set thresholds.
We could use Rigor Monitoring in staging or Rigor Optimization in the build to watch and alert on performance issues. If your team has a performance budget, you can customize Rigor Optimization scans according to those budgets.
With any third-party service, it’s important to weigh the cost and benefits. For example, if most of your highest-quality conversions come from a specific third-party resource you may be more tolerant of slowness from that third-party. But, if a third-party is un-used on a particular site or page, it makes sense to remove the script. Ultimately, you’ll deliver a better user experience for every visitor.
Not sure about what third-party scripts may be loading on your site or within your app? Run a free Optimization scan to see exactly what third-party services could be affecting your site’s performance.