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What Web Performance Metrics Don’t Tell You About User Experience

Web performance metrics are invaluable tools that can tell you quite a bit about the users that are visiting your online application on a regular basis. They don’t paint the entire picture, however, and are therefore not the “be all, end all” solution that you’ve been looking for. They tell you almost nothing about the emotional experience someone has when they visit your site. Case in point: if your online application is not optimized for the mobile environment, your users are likely becoming frustrated with their browsing experience and you don’t even know it.

Common Web Performance Issues

Mobile Browsing

There are a variety of performance metrics that can be associated with mobile browsing: bounce rate, click-through rate, and page load time, to name a few. If a large percentage of your users are accessing your online application via a mobile channel, then mobile optimization has to play a part in your strategy to better these metrics.

One of the major issues end users experience has to do with mobile access: your online application will load significantly slower on mobile devices if it isn’t optimized for mobile browsing. Even though the types of Internet connections that power smartphones are faster than traditional dial-up, they still don’t match the quality of home or office connections in terms of speed. As a result, large pictures and other rich content often won’t load immediately on a smartphone, which will only lead to users slamming the “Back” button in frustration as quickly as possible.

Pop-Up Problems

Another major downside has to do with the types of advertising problems that users are likely to face in mobile situations. Pop-up advertisements, announcements, subscribe boxes, etc. can be extremely frustrating for mobile users because these marketing tools are often not optimized for mobile.

If a user tries to load your page only to see a mobile ad load instead (or worse – an ad with such a tiny ‘X’ in the corner that it is impossible to close the window with the tap of a finger), they’re going to get frustrated and look elsewhere for what they’re after. This issue practically guarantees that your bounce rate will skyrocket, which can affect your search rankings, user happiness, and revenue bottom line. If you have a pop-up box that is difficult to close on mobile, then users will probably press the “Back” button to find a more mobile-friendly site that contains the information they were trying to find in the first place.

Menus and Interface

Perhaps the biggest factor that web performance metrics, or more specifically, click-through rate, won’t tell you about the user experience in this situation has to do with the menus and interface of your site. A mouse cursor is small and precise – a person’s thumb or index finger isn’t. Buttons in particular need to be large and easy to press for the best experience possible.

Failing to properly optimize your online application for the mobile environment will severely limit the web performance and user experience of your brand in a number of ways. The website interface will be difficult to navigate, which will ultimately lead to a lot of frustration from your end users. People won’t put the time in to try to see the content on your site – they’ll instead go someplace else for the information they seek.

Key Takeaways:

  • Web performance metrics are very important, but they don’t tell you the entire story about your users.
  • Failing to optimize for the mobile interface risks alienating a huge segment of the population.
  • You have to optimize for your end users’ mobile browsing habits to keep people coming back for more.

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Sources: UX Magazine

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