With the holidays coming up fast, chances are you've been updating your site and checking it twice. Your network is locked down tight for the rest of the year.
But is your site fast enough to satisfy demanding online shoppers? 57% of online shoppers expect sites to load in 3 seconds or less. If your site doesn't meet this goal, what can you do at this point to make it faster before the holiday onslought begins?
It's not too late to implement a few easy, non-invasive performance fixes for your site. In the weeks between now and Cyber Monday, we'll be offering quick tips on how to make your site faster without touching your network, starting with tip #1:
You can't fix your site's performance unless you know what actually needs fixing. Too many people rely on the performance data they get from other solution providers, not realizing that this data often doesn’t show how fast a site loads for users in the real world. Find out how to baseline your site's performance in less than 5 minutes.
It goes without saying that we'd love to talk with you about how we can make your site faster in 2012. Take a free performance test, and see how much faster we can make your site.
What's even better than an enterprise application that loads 50% faster? A faster app + huge bandwidth savings + happier, more productive employees. That's what Graebel Relocation Services discovered after the Strangeloop Site Optimizer made one of their core internal applications dramatically faster.
Graebel is a $330M company that manages the end-to-end logistics of relocating and moving employees and entire companies around the world. In today's economic climate, with businesses downsizing and consolidating, Graebel has never been busier. The company uses a tested, quality-driven process and a team of dedicated consultants to deliver seamless services to their customers.
To manage their complex global business, Graebel relies on a highly specialized Microsoft ASP.NET application. With thousands of staff and partners around the world managing different aspects of the relocation process, Graebel’s feature-rich logistics application must perform quickly and consistently.
According to Graebel's senior director of enterprise applications, Alan Ruth, "[Before Site Optimizer] the pages were too slow to load… Then we deployed the Strangeloop box, and from that point forward we didn’t have to reconfigure the pages or the use of features like Ajax controls."
After implementing Site Optimizer, Alan pointed out that not only has employee productivity improved, but Graebel was surprised to realize significant bandwidth savings: "Deploying the Strangeloop Site Optimizer significantly improves the speed of our application, which has resulted in an increase in productivity for our employees, and ultimately has contributed to our business's bottom line. And the amount of bandwidth savings was outrageous. Within the first month, several terabytes of data were saved from going across our WAN."
Read the full case study.
The Strangeloop Site Optimizer makes your pages load up to 3X faster.
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Network and bandwidth limitations are two of the biggest challenges to delivering a fast mobile experience. For desktop users, data usage is virtually unlimited, but this isn't the case for mobile users on 3G and 4G networks. For these users, more data (i.e. bigger pages) sent across their network means more money.
When we developed our Mobile Optimizer, we found ourselves challenged by the idea that one of our standby desktop Site Optimizer treatments, Predictive Browser Caching (aka Preloading), which delivers fantastic acceleration results on the desktop, might actually be a huge negative for mobile users.
Predictive Browser Caching works by intelligently guessing where a user is likely to go next, based on not just their past navigation choices, but on the navigation choices of tens of thousands of previous visitors. Predictive Browser Caching preloads those page resources in the browser so they're waiting on standby, ready to render in the browser the moment the visitor clicks on the link.
Predictive Browser Caching is an amazing advanced optimization technique, but it's a tactic that must be used with caution for mobile sites. Metered bandwidth and limited battery life demand a more responsible approach. Users won’t appreciate the speed of your site if it pushes them over their data plan's limit for free browsing or drains their battery.
We knew we needed to squeeze as much benefit as we could out of Predictive Browser Caching, without bottoming out people's data plans. So we came up with Dynamic Payload Decision Making, which recognizes each user’s network connection in the moment, and makes sure that the user is served pages optimized according to their network limits.
We were able to do this by exploiting features inherent in the Android operating system and the Blackberry network:
In addition to these techniques, server-side detection of User-Agent header data or other information embedded in requests can alert your application to the type of connection in use.
Here's one example of how this feature works: If you’re at home, you get a more aggressive version of Predictive Browser Caching. If you’re out on the street, you get only a trimmed-down core set of preloaded objects. You win both ways.
This example demonstrates just one of many dynamic payload decisions Mobile Optimizer makes. In every instance, the goal is always to serve the end user’s best interests.
The touchscreen is arguably one of the greatest smartphone innovations, but it carries a usability penalty. Every time a mobile user touches his or her screen, the device has to translate that touch event into a click event. This translation takes up to 500 milliseconds per click. When you add that time up with all the other delays caused by network and bandwidth issues, it's a pretty significant pain point.
Mobile Optimizer automatically converts click events to touch events, which relieves the mobile browser of the realtime overhead of the click-to-touch translation. The benefit to your site's visitors: a noticably faster user experience.
For a more advanced look at how to improve mobile performance by replacing click events with touch events, check out this excerpt from our Mobile Website Optimization Whitepaper:
On touchscreen devices, the onclick event does not fire immediately when a user taps the screen. To fix this, use the touchend event instead. That event fires immediately when the user taps the screen.
To ensure that the user doesn't experience unexpected behavior, you may also want to use the touchstart and touchmove events. For example, don't assume that touchend on a button means click unless there was also a touchstart event on the button – not if the user touched somewhere else and dragged to the button before ending the touch. You could use a touchmove event after touchstart to prevent treating the following touchend as a click, assuming that the moving gesture wasn’t intended to be a click.
In addition, you may still want to handle the onclick event to ensure that the browser changes the appearance of the button to show a clicked state, and to support browsers that don’t handle touch events. To avoid duplicate code execution when both touchend and onclick code fire, add a click event handler that calls preventDefault and stopPropagation if the click was the result of a user tap that was already handled by the touchend.
What's the latest mobile research? Which browser offers the fastest performance? What are the newest performance measurement tools? We've updated our Web Performance Hub with dozens of links to the latest industry case studies, presentations, research, and reports from experts like Steve Souders, Tim Kadlec, Lara Swanson, and Maximiliano Firtman.