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How Front End Performance Monitoring Can Boost eCommerce Revenue

In the world of eCommerce, there are a few key factors that you’ll always have to keep in mind regardless of which specific industry you?re actually operating in.

All businesses are looking for ways to boost revenue, though the truth of the matter is that there are very few “one size fits all” solutions. No two businesses operate in quite the same way, which is why it makes sense that no two revenue streams will operate identically as well. When you move things into the eCommerce realm, however, there are definitely a few key steps that you can take to start moving your organization in the right direction. Load time is well known as an important metric to follow for eCommerce — it’s the subject of hundreds of articles and it’s included in Internet Retailer’s standard reports on leading eCommerce companies. But there is more to it than just a single number. Here’s a couple ways you can dig deeper on your site’s performance.

Learn how you can prepare your eCommerce app for your busy season.

Front End Performance Monitoring: 2 Metrics to Watch Out For

1. Start Render Time

Studies posted on Rigor.com have indicated that as many as 40% of shoppers who experience a load time of more than three seconds will completely abandon a website and look elsewhere. And if your site doesn’t start rendering within about a second, you’re already testing their patience.

The start render time is important because it indicates that your website is, in fact, going to load. When a user is stuck with a blank screen, there’s no assurance that their patience will pay off. They may click back before a single pixel paints.

What’s more, seeing content start to load is the ultimate progress indicator. As you’re likely aware, progress indicators were invented long ago to enforce the perception of faster load times, even when the wait time is static. Seeing something moving to indicate progress, even if it’s just a looped animation, will put the user at ease and make the wait seem shorter. This principle applies to your web pages, as content rendering, even if it’s just a few elements, has the effect of engaging the user (or merely distracting the user, you’re a glass half empty type). Either way, the wait time will seem shorter if there’s something to look at.

2. Time to Display

This is the next increment in a page load, and indicates that the document object model is fully downloaded. What this means in layman’s terms is that any basic elements of the page that are included in the HTML are displayed on the screen. Other elements, like some JavaScript and tracking tokens, will be set to load after this point in the page load sequence, but typically the key visual elements will have been rendered.

A fast time to display is important for continuing the initial engagement you started when your page started rendering. If there’s a long gap between the first elements appearing and the page being fully rendered, it will seem like something is wrong.

This distinction is important because depending what testing tool you’re using, you could be looking at a figure that doesn’t really indicate the user experience. If you have delay-loaded content, or other types of non-visible elements that load in the background, it may seem like your page load times are much slower than they really are.  Looking at the start render time and the time to display together will offer a much richer view of your page’s user experience, and help you put yourself in your user’s shoes.

Key Takeaways:

  • One of the key benefits of front end performance monitoring is looking beyond the plain “page load time” metric and understanding more fully what your user are experiencing
  • Fast start render time helps to improve the perception of your site’s performance, as well as capturing the user’s attention
  • Fast time to display let’s users start actually engaging with your page, regardless what may be loading in the background

Looking for more actionable tips? Check out our eCommerce Application Performance solutions.

Sources: Netiq, Forrester

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