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Haunted by Slow Websites? We Put Halloween eCommerce Sites to the Test

As kids, the primary function of Halloween is to score as much candy as possible. But many adults use the holiday as an opportunity to brag about their assets — whether it be an excuse to blatantly flash more cleavage (really, is there any police role that warrants THESE uniforms?) or to provide a forum for nerds to document their own cleverness.

In the latter category, I was impressed by the fully functional Pac Man arcade game below, which is crafted out of a regular laptop computer and some plywood (DIY instructions are in Make Magazine).

Most Halloween revelers, however, are not so creative. Millions of costumes get purchased online, a place where you can temporarily explore your fantasies without being judged (until the party, of course).

Getting in the holiday spirit, Yottaa ran 16 dramatically diverse costumes (including one for dogs) through, our free tool that lets you measure your e-commerce site’s speed against the competition and pinpoint areas needing improvement.

Not wanting to discriminate against any fantasy genre, we chose items in four different categories: Funny, Cute, Scary and Sexy. As a point of comparison, we also shopped for some of those same costumes on

The average Time to Interact (a key milestone for web page loading: all of the page resources have been loaded and rendered, and the web page is fully ready for user interaction) is 4.49 seconds, a bit faster than the 6-7 seconds we typically see on e-commerce sites.

Naked Princess Leia popped up the fastest (2 seconds) on, while Barack Obama was the slowest (nearly 8 seconds) on When you’re the President of the United States, it’s okay to keep people waiting.

It is interesting to note that 80-90 percent of a typical web site’s load time is due to the content complexity and structure of the site – not in the Internet delivery. The more complex a site is, the more javascripts and style sheets, the more assets, and the more domains content is pulled from (e.g., video embeds, news feeds, social media widgets, etc.) – there are inevitable delays.  For example, here’s the impact of javascripts on site speed for our 20 Halloween sites:

Site Speed Matters

Shopping, Halloween or not, is all about instant gratification. When a customer clicks on a costume, he or she only wants to think about whether they can picture themselves as Mitt Romney or Michelle Obama ? and whether their friends will be entertained. The moment there are delays, the focus switches to “”Where else can I find this product””?

If you happen to be in the wonderful profession of costume sales, you know that no one has a monopoly on fishnet stockings, angel wings or devil tails. The biggest challenge for all e-retailers is luring customers away from the comfort zone of, the not-just-books-anymore behemoth that now cross-sells everything from automotive parts to Zambonis (well, toy ones).

In our head-to-head contests on, here’s how some of Amazon’s competitors fared in terms of loading time (in seconds):

Taking the average of all the Amazon times (5.37), the e-commerce giant is about a second slower than its costume competitors (4.27). Amazon is like the New York Yankees of online retailing – you can always count on them being there at the end. In terms of Web optimization, it looks like a bunch of sites have done what they can to level the playing field in terms of speed. Whether their prices can beat Amazon?s is another story.

Inspired to improve YOUR customers? user experience?

Here?s where Yotta can help: go to to test your sites experience. Then download our Beginner’s guide below, for more on optimization tips!

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