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Reasons Your Content Delivery Network Is Failing…Or Is It?

How can you tell if your content delivery network is delivering ROI?  All you have to do is look at your end-user experience.

CDNs generally use a few basic metrics to benchmark their performance. They include metrics like response time, which in this case means the time it takes for the website data to travel from a server to the user’s browser, where it is then parsed and rendered.

The problem with this approach is that, in the era of the customer, focusing on touchpoints like how fast bits travel from point to point is a flawed approach.  The online business landscape is simply too competitive and too sophisticated now to focus on anything other than end users. End-user experience is now the defining benchmark.

Your content delivery network is failing you if it’s not helping your end user experience.

There is a certain timeframe that, according to consumer research, has been deemed too long to wait for an online application to load; there’s another data set used to determine if an online application is taking too long to load on a smartphone. These studies, with data points like “1 second in additional load time costs x dollars in revenue” from the likes of Google, Wal Mart, and Amazon, have been employed by many web technologies, including CDNs themselves.

But these studies always come back to the same thing — you guessed it — end-user experience. And what end users see and feel is not bits and bytes, but images, graphics, text, and media loading in front of their eyes.  In other words, it doesn’t matter how fast the data is routed through the web if it takes the browser ages to present it to the user.

The Changing Expectations

CDNs are an important component in delivering content around the world. Fast delivery of bits is the first step in delivering a great user experience. Yottaa’s application optimization platform, for instance, uses CDNs as a component in delivering our software services. What they don’t do is optimize the rendering of content in the browser — and that’s what has become the bottleneck to user experience.

In order to determine if your end-user experience is up to par, set a strategy for monitoring that blends synthetic monitoring and RUM (real user monitoring), and cross reference that data with the business performance of your site, metrics such as conversion rate.  Wal Mart presented a great example of this analysis back in 2012.

Key Takeaways

Businesses need to determine if their content delivery network is failing them by not focusing on end user experience, or if there is another problem. If you are truly concerned with delivering a great your end-user experience (and you should be), then you will want to aim higher than merely satisfying your end users. Strive to put yourself into your users’ shoes and look not at bits any bytes, but holistically at performance.

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  • McCarthy, John C., Ted Schadler, Christopher Mines, Michael Facemire, and Nathaniel Fleming. "Closing The Experience Gaps." Editorial. Forrester Research 7 Aug. 2014: n. pag. Web.
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