As the holiday shopping season seems to inch closer and closer to Halloween, online retailers need to prepare for a surge of shoppers sooner rather than later. Ensuring that your website is fast and reliable is critical for online retailers who hope to capture their share of the estimated $129 billion that will be spent online during the holiday season. To get your website ready for the holidays, you’ll want to plan ahead. Here’s how.

Get Started

1. Test Early & Often

You likely are launching frequent updates to your site ahead of the holidays. Make sure that you aren’t inadvertently slowing your site down in the process. By actively monitoring performance in staging and pre-production environments, you can ensure that you aren’t introducing any performance defects at this critical time for your site.

2. Load Test

Now is also time to determine if your website is ready for peak traffic with load testing. The goal of load testing is to validate that your website is capable of handling the requests of high volumes of users and identify the breakpoints and bottlenecks where the current infrastructure will fail. If you are wondering where to get started, here is how to create a website load testing plan.

3. Make Sure You Are Mobile Ready

If you haven’t yet focused on delivering a great digital experience to your mobile users, now is the time. Mobile usability and mobile website speed impacts SEO rankings as well as your user’s experience. This year 196 million people will shop online and more people than ever are expected to shop via mobile device. By optimizing your mobile experience now, you can guarantee you are delivering the same experience they expect on their desktop when they are shopping on the sofa while watching Thanksgiving football.

4. Remember: Speedy Sites Get the Sales

Slow speeds play a huge role in user abandonment on a website. A Kissmetrics study found that 40% percent of shopping users who experience load times of 3 seconds or more will abandon a website.

Lightning fast page times are of utmost concern for shoppers and should be for you as well. There are simple steps that you can take to improve the speed of your website.

In addition to defining a small list of internal best practices, you should focus on optimizing:

  • Images: The easiest and lowest hanging fruit in your optimization arsenal should be to optimize images. Rigor Optimization can help you optimize large PNGs, JPEGs, animated GIFs, videos (HTML5 and MP4), and other rich media. Rigor Optimization can easily scan your resources and display a list of offenders by severity and provide optimized resources for download.
  • HTML: Use Rigor Optimization to scan your HTML to review areas of extraneous text, white space, and more. This will help your dependent resources (CSS, images, and fonts) fire faster. Watch this short Web Perfectionist 101 video for more tips.
  • Third-party Defects: Chances are you’re using third-party ads, services, or JavaScript in your site. Help ensure that your content providers are holding up their end. Rigor makes it easy to identify first- and third-party content to quickly identify whether the problem originates on your end or from their features and content.

On The Big Day

Monitor Your Critical User Flows

You should monitor your business critical systems throughout the year. But, it is especially important when you are anticipating a high volume of users. It’s always better to catch outages before you hear about them from unhappy customers. This is why we suggest high frequency monitoring during these times.

With tools like Rigor Monitoring, you will know right away if something on your site is malfunctioning. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that you’re directly responsible for, such as on-premise web server, or if it’s a third-party API that you’ve integrated with, Rigor can detect and alert on service interruptions. Every second that you are offline means that you’re losing revenue. A monitoring platform can help you keep those instances to a minimum.

Finally, you can use Rigor to identify warning-level issues. These are things that aren’t showstoppers (such as a server outage), but are problematic for you and your users: slow load times, large number of assets required for page loads, and so on. You can use this information now to inform any preemptive actions you might want to take before holiday shopping season begins full swing.

Looking for more reasons to improve your performance before the holidays? Download Rigor’s Holiday Infographic Guide to Optimizing Your Holiday Shopping Experience!