How Performance Impacts the User Experience

Today’s consumers have little patience for slow loading web pages. The world has become a fast-paced environment and end users expect fast page performance. In a 2006, Akamai did a study and found clients expected a page to load in less than 4 seconds. According to a study done in 2009 by Akamai, 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. Customers doubled their expectations in 3 years. It’s clear that these expectations are increasing over time.

In today’s web page environment, ad revenue can help the bottom-line, but if your web page is rich in JavaScript, it may slow your load time considerably. When website performance does not meet the customer’s expectations, it is easy enough for them to go to your competitor’s site isntead. By using external JavaScript and CSS the browser only has to load the resources once and then they are held in the browser’s cache. QuBit did a study in 2012 and found that out of 60,000 customers, 8% of them said that they abandoned a purchase due to pages loading to slowly. Many never return.

Analytics applications are a great way for you to analyze data and tell you about traffic your website is getting and locations hits are coming from. This is a great tool to measure your sites traffic; however, some web sites use more than one analytics application and the result is slower loading times. Some search engines have been tracking site speed as part of their ranking for the last two years.  They’v found that when they slowed search results down by between 100 and 400 milliseconds, it also slowed the number of searches per user. The results were -.02% to -.06% over a four to six week period.

Bloated HTML is another source of slow website speed. This means too much code for the browser to read quickly. Tables are a source of bloated HTML. WYSIWYG editors can also contribute to bloated code. If you are building the code using the visual view, it can create a lot of extra code. Use the code view to do your editing and avoid unnecessary code. Following this rule, you will avoid adding garbage code to your page that will slow it down. Importing Microsoft Word documents converted to HTML can also add bloated HTML by adding extra lines that a browser has to read when it loads a page.

Another performance killer is a page that is image heavy and has images that have not been compressed or resized. It is better to resize the image in an image-editing program than to use HTML code to size it using width and height attributes within the HTML code. There have been many studies done that prove that site performance affects the user experience. When it comes down to the revenue you could be losing if your site doesn’t perform well – you should make it your goal to improve your sites performance.

SLA Agreements: Guarantees of Performance

Obviously Joomla users care about performance, and one often times people are so fixated on page load speed and other performance issues that they forget about basic uptime altogether. Think about that for a minute; if your site isn’t online, then it doesn’t really matter how fast the page loads, does it? Exactly. And if you’re not hosting your own website and are paying a web host, then it’s likely that your agreements are bound by a Service Level Agreement, also known as an SLA. What an SLA does is specify the relationship between you and the web host, and lays out specific terms that both parties are bound to in terms of the business relationship. Generally though, an SLA is something that mainly stipulates at what frequency the web host must be online, and what will happen if they aren’t.

For example, many SLAs stipulate that the web hosting provider must offer 99.9& uptime or more. If they don’t they are bound by whatever the terms of the SLA are. For some people, this might be a credit on their bill, or something similar. One of the main things to think about here is that in order to make a claim against the SLA, you might want to have some third party data. If you don’t, you might be at the mercy of whatever your web host is willing to give you in terms of a credit. A third party monitoring solution can help you determine how long your site was up or down be querying your server at specified intervals and recording whether the site is up or down. After a specific amount of time (such as a month), you an generate a report that charts out the statistics of your site. Employing an SLA Management solution like this can be extremely valuable in situations where your web host doesn’t agree with your assessment of the situation.

There are a number of different vendors that offer services like this, including Pingdom and Site24x7, as well as many others. And like anything else, pricing and other factors vary between various vendors. Obviously, one of the best ways to find out which service works the best for you is to try difference providers, and vet them against each other, until you’ve arrived at a solution that works best for you and your specific needs. Again, although it’s not something that people commonly think about, managing the terms of your SLA can be crucial to running a reliable website that exceeds the expectations of users.