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3 Tips to Avoid the Website Speed Trap

When Faster eCommerce is not Better eCommerce

“We need to go faster!  Dump all extra weight – I don’t care what it is.  We won’t miss it if we’re dead!”

You know the movie scene.  Our heroes are being chased, the bad guys are rapidly gaining.  Everything not bolted down gets dumped – luggage, food, fuel, etc.  Our heroes escape to live another day, only to realize they tossed something essential, dooming them to an even more desperate situation.

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A recent Internet Retailer article, “Follett and Dell Move into the Top 10 Fastest Desktop Sites”  calls to mind this scene.  It recognizes Follett Corp.’s great achievement in speeding up their eCommerce website’s home page.   But what’s lost behind the headline is the sacrifice required to get there.  According to the article, Follett “cut its number of hosts, items and overall page size, plus made changes to redirects, images and scripts” in order to hit top speed.    

In other words, they dumped everything.  

It inspires the question – when is faster not better?  We all know that without speed, an eCommerce business is dead.  Research backs this up, showing that after 3 seconds of waiting for a page to load, more than 50% of visitors will leave the site.  And then conversion rates begin to plummet.  But if the push for speed causes you to remove the calls, images, and third party services that create your great customer experience, you could actually lose customers.  Higher speed with lower conversion?  Tough one to explain to the board of directors.  

There are smarter ways to increase website speed.  Take into account 3 guiding principles when optimizing your website for faster load times:

1. 3rd Party Services are Awesome 

3rd party JavaScript is often cited for dragging down page load times.  Yet best-in-class, 3rd party services are critical to delivering a differentiated, innovative customer experience.  And frankly, marketing teams love them. Don’t destroy the long term value of your website in an effort to reach short term performance goals.   Bring it back to conversion.  Will the immediate improvement from speed be negated by a long term reduction in conversion and retention because your experience isn’t as compelling?  The best case is to seek out acceleration techniques that don’t require cutting these services.  

2. Speed Done Can Be Undone

Even if you eliminate a number of hosts and reduce page size, these changes can be short lived.  Marketing teams are becoming more reliant on 3rd party JavaScript every day, and will continue to make changes and insert tags into the site.  And every change reduces the effectiveness of past optimization efforts.  If you are going to live in this new eCommerce era, make sure you adopt an automated, programmatic approach to optimizing your website.  An approach that won’t break and slow everything down again when a new tag or version of the site is launched.

3. Timing is Everything 

You don’t have to cut every piece of custom JavaScript or large image on your site to make it faster.  Instead, prioritize your features and sequence which ones load first.  Determine the components that a customer must see immediately to begin interacting with the page (and not leave), and make those load first. Then prioritize all subsequent features accordingly, presenting first the ones that engage the customer and have the greatest influence on their shopping experience.  

Speed and Experience CAN Coexist

Follett has a beautiful home page, and might not have sacrificed anything to get so fast.  But for many others, the easy way to speed up the eCommerce website is to cut services and features on every page.  This is a knee jerk reaction that could jeopardize your conversion rates and isn’t necessary. Next-generation acceleration technologies (like Yottaa) enable eCommerce websites to automatically sequence their website content to deliver faster page load times while preserving the 3rd party services your customers and marketing teams love.  

So if you are being chased by higher website performance standards, don’t throw anything off the ship just yet.  Instead, throw on some afterburners with the right eCommerce acceleration technology that will win that race without sacrificing a thing.  

Want to learn what’s slowing down your site? Get a free website evaluation with a YOTTAA performance expert today.

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