I think we all know what poor website performance looks and feels like. It’s error pages, broken links, and ads that take over the whole screen. It feels frustrating, annoying, confusing, and makes browsing a burden rather than a pleasure. Because poor performance is so much easier to identify, it can sometimes be difficult to conceptualize good performance, especially if the website simply fulfills your expectations. You get the content you are looking for, it’s easy, and painless. As with most things in life, it’s easier to identify when things go wrong rather than when they are working as they should.

There are exceptions, however. When a company makes an improvement in performance that is noticeable across the board. A performance improvement that leads to not just faster load times, but increased revenue. At Rigor we help both deliver and quantify performance wins. Here’s one example of how we delivered an 11% increase in conversions by improving a client’s performance.

One of Rigor’s customers, a U.S.-based $1 billion retail giant (let’s call them BBS), was struggling to adopt a culture of performance. They had conducted a site replatform over the summer that resulted in a spike in load time. The knew that their digital experience was lagging, but they didn’t know how to get back on track.

With the 2017 Black Friday code freeze looming in the near future and aggressive holiday revenue goals, BBS knew that they needed to take dramatic steps to improve their performance, specifically addressing their page load time. To kickstart their performance improvements, BBS partnered with Rigor’s professional services team.

Laying The Groundwork

For performance to be prioritized across the business, it must deliver real results. Our team worked with the performance champion to identify what their most pressing goals were, such as decreasing page load time. We created a step-by-step action plan, helped them implement the solution by working with them directly on a daily basis for two weeks, and measured the impact. Ultimately, our focus wasn’t just on helping them make the most out of Rigor, but also in creating a culture of performance.

Roadblock & Solution Number One: Culture

Rigor’s CTO, Billy Hoffman, likes to say that performance isn’t a coat of paint–you can’t just take a website and dress it up to make it fast and reliable. Similarly, you can’t just implement a performance monitoring software and expect to check off your performance box.

[bctt tweet=”Performance is an ongoing event that consistently needs to be a priority if you want to stay ahead. #perfmatters” username=”TeamRigor”]

Good performance is cultural, too. And culture was a major roadblock that we identified at BBS.

Leveraging performance software for its full potential doesn’t just mean setting up some tests and diagnosing failures. It means using it to create transparency and accountability around performance. We were able to help the performance champion at BBS use Rigor to demonstrate the impact of things like third party tags on performance. As a result, this created a starting place for improvement, a common starting place from which teams could work toward a common goal. We have seen similar outcomes in other customers, such as American Kennel Club.

Roadblock & Solution Number Two: Third Party Vendors

Speaking of third party tags, this is one of the most common culprits of performance spikes.

Domain Performance Monitoring

 

This was true for BBS, too. In the process of replatforming, they adopted a number of third party vendors, some of which were pushing up their load times. For instance, when we ran tests excluding all third parties, their load time was 9 seconds less than when third parties were included. BBS had actually built a fast website, but they were being dragged down by vendors. This is common, especially across ecommerce websites.

[bctt tweet=”#WebPerf Pro Tip: Validate performance savings in a testing environment before pushing fixes live. ” username=”TeamRigor”]

We identified which third party vendors were the worst offenders. BBS was able to use our data to hold these vendors accountable for fixes to both the tag itself and the calls it made back to the server. They could then determine which tags should be removed from the site entirely.

Roadblock & Solution Number Three: Performance Best Practices

We all know that we should eat our vegetables and exercise, but it can be difficult to translate that knowledge into action. Likewise, people oftentimes know performance best practices, but can have a hard time actually implementing them. Rigor helped BBS identify which best practices they should prioritize and held them accountable through weekly check-ins.

For instance, BBS was loading third party Javascript libraries before loading in all the CSS needed to render the page. This caused users (and Rigor’s monitoring tests) to see a blank white screen for up to 2 seconds at a time while waiting on the page to load. After testing a fix for this issue recommended by Rigor’s team on a single production instance, BBS was confident in the fix and rolled it out across the entire site.

Outcome

By identifying these roadblocks and helping BBS overcome them, we were able to deliver significant performance gains.

If you’ll recall, this was all part of an initiative to get their website in tip-top shape before the holiday shopping season. Ultimately, by implementing our recommendations, they were able to achieve a 5 second decrease in load time on their homepage. This coincided with an 11% conversion rate increase on Black Friday compared to the year prior.

Performance is not a finishable feature, and we are continuing our partnership with BBS to improve their performance. For instance, it’s important to ensure that they not only get fast, but also stay fast. For this we will be working to integrate Rigor earlier into their development lifecycle by conducting performance testing in pre-production.

We made significant gains, but for BBS–and other companies we work with–the single biggest roadblock they face is that fixes are hard to make when the code is already live. It is key that their team spot and address performance issues in pre-production before they post a threat to their user’s experience.

[bctt tweet=”#WebPerf pro tip: Spot and address performance issues in pre-production before they post a threat to your #UX or your bottom line.” username=”TeamRigor”]

This is a challenge Rigor is uniquely positioned to solve via our integrations with CI/CD pipelines and we will be partnering together to make it happen.

At Rigor, we are serious about performance and committed to delivering real results for our customers. Learn more with a free trial of our platform.