This year started out great for Tessa, a lead front end engineer working for a highly trafficked online publisher based out of New York. Her company was making UX design a primary focus and she had a ton of ideas for improving site navigation and the general UI, including switching from dedicated desktop and mobile sites towards responsive design.
Tessa and her team hit the ground running and started wire-framing different ideas and planning out a complete site redesign. Within a couple months her team had the newly designed site up in staging and were completing the final rounds of usability testing.
By the end of Q1, her team had architected the redesign and were finally going live with their new responsive site. Then within a week of the go-live, her team noticed that all of the primary engagement metrics on the site were trending in the wrong direction. Conversion rates, time on site, and number of pages per session were all spiraling down. Soon disgruntled users took to Twitter and the answer was clear: the site was too slow.
Does Tessa’s story sound familiar? In truth, this story is all too common. While companies increasingly prioritize site design and usability, they forget to promote a key component of the user experience: speed. How do we change this? Below are 3 steps for organizations to take to make web performance a priority.
Making Website Performance a Priority in Three Steps
1. Set Good Goals
The first step towards making performance a priority is to create performance related goals. Without good goals in place there is no way to quantify success or to correlate business gains with performance improvement. Your goals must be specific, time-boxed, measurable and attainable. An example of a good goal would be to improve the average response time of your website’s homepage by 20% by the end of the quarter.
It is often helpful to leverage marketing data to inform your decisions around goal creation. Tools like Google Analytics can help you understand your high-trafficked user flows and business critical transactions. This data is important for setting impactful goals. As recently discussed by Tammy Everts from SOASTA in this blog, performance is more impactful on conversion rates earlier in the conversion funnel than on pages later in the funnel. Understanding trends and having knowledge about how your users interact on your site will help you create performance goals that will significantly impact revenue.
2. Monitor and Measure
Once you have established your goals, make sure you have the right tools in place to track your organization’s specified metrics. Are you looking to track improvement of your application’s uptime? Use a synthetic monitoring tool like Rigor to baseline availability.
Trying to improve your shopping cart conversion rate? Real-user-monitoring (RUM) tools like SOASTA’s mPulse can help track the impact of performance on conversions, while synthetic monitoring tools can provide meaningful diagnostics about performance bottlenecks. Tools like Zoompf can take this data a step further by automatically correcting many performance problems and helping you troubleshoot the rest.
Don’t have a performance budget? No problem! There are great free offerings as well, such as Boomerang or Web Page Test, that can get you collecting data, but won’t have all the bells and whistles around reporting and alerting.
3. Adapt and Improve
Every organization must find a rhythm that leads to better web performance. Your process should look something similar to this: create-test-publish-measure-adapt-improve. Adapting and improving are vital to the success of your performance plan. Understanding and baselining your performance is just the start. The next step is putting the data to work to build processes and procedures that will trend your load times down and your conversion rate up. Don’t let bad metrics discourage you. Simply by having metrics you are a step ahead of most. Take solace in knowing that if your team is making data-driven decisions you’re assured to see improvements.
If you’re ready to prioritize your website performance, reach out to Rigor for an analysis of your site. Simply click here to schedule a call!
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