Monitoring for issues and analyzing performance is great, but if your technology doesn’t help you prioritize and optimize content that is negatively impacting performance, you’re only halfway there.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
Step one involves mapping out and enforcing your internal performance best practices. With hundreds of front-end performance optimizations out there, the task of defining your best practices may seem daunting at first. Don’t worry, just start small: Ask a few questions – similar to the way you defined your business KPIs. Remember that when it comes to web performance, one size definitely does not fit all. Use the questions you come up with to help define the performance best practices that best fit your business needs and the way you’ll be using your site. Begin by asking just a few questions and you can always expand your list of best practices as you go.
Additionally, consider putting together a team of different stakeholders in your organization to help determine how your best practices can fully align with and support your business needs. Get a perspective from different areas of your organization, including development, operations, and line of business. Work together to define your list and to decide the thresholds for those “mission critical” issues vs. those that cause acceptable losses in performance.
Some questions to discuss might include:
- How many resources are we loading per page? Should we have a threshold for that number that we should not exceed?
- Are we using a content delivery network? If not, should we be using one?
- Do we have a target page load time?
- Are all images and media optimized?
- Are we implementing caching for static resources? If so, how many days are items being cached?
- What types of performance slowdowns are considered acceptable? Which ones do we define as “critical”?
Not even sure what questions to start with? Use online resources, such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Yahoo!’s YSlow analyzer, and Rigor’s free performance report, to analyze your site and help build your best practices list.
Be the Performance Police
Once you’ve determined your best practices, it’s time to enforce them. Use a commercial optimization tool, such as Rigor Optimization, or build an internal tool to test your best practices as a part of your continuous integration process. You’ll need a tool that can analyze your best practices based on policy parameters, prescribe a solution, and alert you of any performance errors and issues that meet your pre-defined thresholds.
- Analyze Your Policies: Once you have your best practices defined, you’ll want to continuously analyze your site, remembering to analyze any ongoing development. Rigor’s Optimization service tests for hundreds of performance best practices, and results can be customized to check only for those best practices your team is implementing. You can also create custom check policies to highlight opportunities for improvement and add thresholds that match your defined limits. Then, simply run your test and if any part of a page violates your best practices, Rigor Optimization flags the defect if it meets your defined threshold for reporting.
With Rigor’s open API and out-of-the-box integrations, you can implement optimization into your build system or continuous integration processes to automate regression detection, enabling you to discover any new issues immediately – before they go into production.
- Fix the Problem: As we said earlier, your analysis tools aren’t very helpful if they don’t help you fix the problem. Using the performance data gathered in Rigor Monitoring, within seconds Rigor Optimization provides a prioritized list of optimizations from a library of industry best practices that can be downloaded and implemented at the push of a button.
- Create Smart Alerts: Receiving too many alerts just turn them into noise. No one wants to open an inbox full of useless messages, having to manually sort out which ones are important and which ones to ignore. Cut down on the noise by customizing alert criteria based on the thresholds you defined in your performance best practices. Set alerting windows to refine when and who to alert for the most urgent and critical issues.
As the complexity of digital applications increases, so does the size of your team. Stakeholders include designers, engineers, quality assurance, line of business owners, and third-party services (e.g., web analytics, ad providers), collaborating across functional initiatives. As such, you’ll want to include members from different parts of your organization in the optimization process. While you’re mapping out your best practices, take time to identify and map out responsibilities for key stakeholders. Use a tool like Rigor to build processes for triaging performance problems to the correct owners to expedite time to resolution and improve the regression feedback loop.
Avoid Cost Creep
Remember that the cost to fix an error after product release is four to five times as much as one found during design, and up to 100 times more if identified in the maintenance phase. So, test and enforce your best practices early and often to avoid deploying troublesome builds into production.
To learn more best practices for improving your web performance, check out our eBook on Building Faster Experiences with Continuous Performance.