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ST. PATRICK?S DAY SMACKDOWN: Holding Leprechauns? Feet to the Fire for Website Speed and Performance

Hey, St. Patrick?s Day Weekend is here and not to put any pressure on you, but did you get a St. Patty?s gift for that special someone in your life?

As the e-commerce highway gets clogged by all you last-minute St. Patrick?s Day shoppers, we thought it would be fun to stage a friendly competition between a few gift websites ? as well as take a peek at some unique Shamrock novelty items and evaluate their customers? online experiences.

Our St. Patrick?s Day Smackdown starts with our Battle of the Leprechaun Bobbleheads:
Lucky Charms Leprechaun  ( vs Boston Celtics Leprechaun (

Did you know that both the Lucky Charms ?Magically Delicious? and the Boston Celtics Leprechaun mascot are both named ?Lucky??  We?d argue that the Celtics icon is luckier based on its NBA record 17 World Championships, but we?re here to discuss website speed, scale and security ? NOT the Bill Russell or Larry Bird eras.

Turns out the breakfast cereal guy is much faster: 1.45 seconds to load versus the Celtics mascot’s middle-of-the-road speed of 5.8 seconds to load.

That said, looking at the test results, we did find a limp in the Lucky Charms leprechaun?s stride, however. In one sample, an asset from a 3rd party site had a long delay:


(As we’ve written previously, it’s important to keep an eye on whether 3rd party assets are screwing up your site’s performance.)

When checking out the Boston Celtics Leprechaun Bobblehead’s test results, we found several problems with the Celtics speed at the MonsterMarketplace:

  1. Frequently slow Time-to-Last-Byte (over 7 seconds waiting time for server means that it?s likely overloaded); and
  2. Many of the samples are quite slow ? took 8+ seconds to load the page.


It’s pretty clear that the current e-Commerce infrastructure is under fairly heavy load, and it may make sense to expand server capacity, or give Yottaa’s global infrastructure a try (#shamelessproductplug).

Let?s move on to one of the best rivalries in sports, which we will settle once and for all with a battle between two randomly selected souvenir sites:  New York Yankees Shamrock Hat ( vs. Boston Red Sox Shamrock Hat (


Unlike in real life, the Yankees suck!  The Bronx Bombers have a 7.6 second load time (worse than two thirds of e-Commerce sites) compared to the average 5.5 second load time for the BoSox.  Some samples are very bad (e.g., 18 seconds to load).  Turns out, an asset from a 3rd party ( is slowing things down:

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Boston Red Sox Shamrock Hat’s test results.

Approximately 15% of the ChowdaHeadz Red Sox samples are slow, again attributable to a 3rd-party javascript blocking downstream assets:


Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way!  Javascripts can be loaded asynchronously, to minimize interference with other assets’ loading & execution.

Switching gears away from sports rivalries, let’s take a quick look at three other e-Commerce sites trying to score on St. Patrick’s day.


1. Framed Four Leaf Clover (

When you find one of these, you want to preserve it to pass down to future generations, but this might be the unluckiest Four Leaf Clover of All Time:

  • 10 seconds to START to render;
  • A long waiting time on server for most assets

Looks like the server is overloaded – a common problem for e-Commerce sites during holiday season.


2. “”Irish Parking Only”” Sign  (

We don?t believe in extending special parking privileges to one ethnic group over another, but major kudos to this novelty site for its rock-solid performance: 4 second load time, very consistent across North America.


3. Sexy Leprechaun Costume (

With ?boozing? being a prominent part of their brand, this eCommerce site doesn?t set high expectations for itself. And it shows: This ?Irish Cutie? costume finishes in the bottom third of eCommerce sites for speed, and varies widely ? 5-to-20 seconds page load times.

Among the problems: Loading multiple Javascripts from a CDN (Akamai in this case) ? such that they are blocking downstream assets.  It would probably make sense to concatenate the Javascripts and load them asynchronously.  This is a prime example of when a CDN (which accelerates delivery of the bits) doesn?t address the real bottleneck.

Adding insult to injury, here’s an example where the CDN performance is is subpar – taking 5-10 seconds to deliver each asset:



When customers are shopping for that perfect St. Patrick?s Day gift ? or anything else ? they want instant gratification. Slow loading times and delays will only send them packing.

Contrary to the spirit of the holiday, web optimization is not about luck. So we invite you to learn what you can do to speed up your eCommerce site in our free e-Book, ?The Beginner?s Guide to Web Performance.?

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