Measuring Candidate Websites: Performance Matters
November 04, 2015

Ann Ruckstuhl

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For performance-driven enterprises, a single metric that captures the entire user experience on a website has long been sought but remained elusive. Online businesses especially would benefit from such a metric, because it could help them determine the best way to optimize their sites and, as a result, increase revenue.

Consumers would benefit as well. SOASTA recently conducted a survey evaluating consumer attitudes about website performance indices. The survey found that 70% of Americans' browsing behavior would be affected if websites had performance "grades."

SOASTA launched a new index called the Consumer Performance Index (CPI), and our first use case: a benchmark study of presidential candidates' websites.

We're off to an interesting start — we evaluated visitor engagement on presidential candidates' websites, generating CPI rankings providing a directional view of how presidential candidates' websites engage potential voters. We learned that website performance matters to American voters.

Donald Trump's website had the highest CPI score with a rating of 88 — meaning that, from a performance perspective, it has the highest level of user engagement. Bernie Sanders' website followed with a rating of 87. Hillary Clinton's website came in fourth with a score of 85.5, behind the website of John Kasich (86.8). And, despite her background as a tech CEO, Carly Fiorina's website came in seventh with a rating of 85.1. Jeb Bush's website came in last, with a CPI score of 77.

This is significant because we were able to evaluate the extent to which the strength of presidential candidates' websites affects voter opinion. The answer is: quite a bit. More than three in five (63 percent specifically) of Americans said that, when visiting campaign sites, their support for presidential candidates would be negatively impacted by too many requests for information and/or donations, and an equal number (63 percent) would be put off by website issues. Only 35 percent said they'd be put off if a candidate wasn't speaking to their particular needs and concerns.

Other intriguing findings:

■ 28 percent of Americans would be put off by a website that looks outdated.

■ This percentage increases with Millennials. Some 40 percent say that an outdated-looking website would negatively affect their support for a presidential hopeful.

■ 52 percent of Americans say they'd be put off if the content of a candidate's website is not clear.

Knowing that optimizing presidential candidate websites correlates to increased engagement, these findings suggest that candidates with lower CPI scores could benefit from working on the performance of their websites.

People often underestimate the value of an orderly, well-functioning website. These results speak to that. When people visit a website and have a negative experience, it affects how they perceive the brand or, in this case, the candidate. Web and mobile app performance matters now more than ever before, and it's critical that sites have real-time visibility into the user experience.

Ann Ruckstuhl is CMO of SOASTA.

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