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Ecommerce Sites Getting Slower

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday September 25, 2012 )

Gains made in Internet access speed and enhancements to browsers have been eroded by clunky web sites.

According to the unusually named Strangeloop Networks, a typical online shopper today experiences slower ecommerce web site load times today than they did last year.

The median page load is 9% slower than it was in the company’s November 2011 survey of the same sites.

I particularly notice load times due to having a less than stellar connection, one that I am still happy to have given much of the time I access the web from a rural area much faster than I could have a few years ago. However, when I hit a slow site; it’s really noticeable.

But it’s not just users like me it’s affecting – with people increasingly accessing web sites from mobile devices and given the quality of mobile networks even in some metropolitan areas, there are a bunch of people affected by this.

I don’t think many merchants understand that just because their site loads on their own blisteringly fast connections, other people may not have the same experience – and it can certainly impact on sales. Aside from frustration generally with the World Wide Wait, crucial elements may not load on a page until after someone has scrolled down past where those elements are – and those elements could have helped clinch a sale.

While there are all sorts of (expensive) services to speed up content delivery, it’s a little like putting a band-aid over a gaping wound – why not deal with the illness rather than just the symptoms.

Thankfully, for many small online businesses, there are many cheap/free, quick and easy things that can be done to speed up page load times – and some are quite simple.

A really common issue is images that haven’t been optimized for the web. For example, I assisted a merchant with some of the images on his home page. Here are a couple of the results:

image-1 – 89kb -> 9kb
image-2 – 290kb -> 20kb
image-3 – 90kb -> 28kb

The work literally took a couple of minutes to do and it shaved off over 400 kilobytes from the weight of his home page, without impacting on the viewing quality of the images.

Have a look at your web site and see if your images suffer from bloat. Most graphics packages these days offer compression options that can really trim things down. Even changing a file format from gif to jpg or vice versa can make a substantial difference.

Pick up some more tips for speeding up page load times.


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