Web Performance on the Decline
leading ecommerce sites not meeting performance demands of online consumers
August 12, 2013

Pete Goldin

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Websites for the top 500 US retailers continue to slow down, a 13.7% drop since Spring 2012 ...

Websites for the top 500 US retailers continue to slow down, a 13.7% drop since Spring 2012, according to a new study by Radware, State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2013.

Findings indicate that site owners who do not implement core best practices, critically affect website performance and customer experience.

For the report, Radware tested the website performance of the top 500 US retail websites (as ranked by analytics firm Alexa.com) over a two-week period.

Key findings from the study:

- Web pages continue to slow down. The median load time is 7.72 seconds, a slowdown of 13.7% since Spring 2012.

- The median page is 1,095 KB and contains 91 resources (images, JavaScript, CSS files, etc.). This represents 8% growth since Spring 2012.

- Adoption of performance best practices has either plateaued or is on the decline. Site owners who neglect core best practices miss out on the opportunity to make relatively easy performance gains.

- Across all three major browsers, performance has either plateaued or is trending downward. Browser vendors are challenged to keep pace with the demands of today’s large, complex, dynamic web pages.

Additionally, the report revealed that the median time to interact (TTI) is 4.9 seconds. TTI is the point at which a page displays its primary interactive content (e.g., feature banners with functional call-to-action buttons). Of the top 100 e-commerce sites tested, only 8% of the top 100 sites had a sub-2-second TTI, while 9% had a TTI time of eight or more seconds.

“These findings are startling – retailers still don’t realize that they are losing customers by neglecting core best practices,” said Tammy Everts, web performance evangelist, Radware. “Fifty-seven percent of consumers will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Web pages need to work smarter and harder. Site owners not only need to adopt core best practices, but also utilize advanced techniques that optimize the browser’s efficiency.”

Report Methodology

Website load tests were conducted over a two-week period – June 24 to July 5, 2013 – using Internet Explorer 10, Firefox 21 and Chrome 27 on a DSL connection. The tests in this study were performed using WebPagetest.org, an open source project primarily developed by Google, which simulates page load times from a real user’s perspective. Radware tested the home page of every site nine times in the Alexa Retail 500.

In addition to measuring a core set of metrics – load time, resource requests, page size and implementation of core performance best practices – the set of tests marks the inauguration of a new metric for the report: time to interact (TTI). TTI is considered to be a more meaningful indicator of a page’s ability to deliver a satisfactory user experience to a visitor, providing additional insight into real-user performance. To identify the TTI for each page, Radware generated timed filmstrip views of the page load for the median page for each site in the Alexa Retail 100.

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