Despite Faster Networks and Devices, Radware Report Reveals Web Performance is still Subpar
New Radware research shows web performance continues to challenge site owners – shares best practices and performance techniques to help accelerate page load times
Radware® (NASDAQ: RDWR), a leading provider of cyber security and application delivery solutions ensuring optimal service level for applications in virtual, cloud and software defined data centers, today released its findings to help give eRetailers additional insight on the importance of web page optimization – regardless of faster networks and devices.
Radware’s latest report entitled “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Spring 2015” provides visibility into the performance and page composition of leading ecommerce sites. It also gives a historical perspective where sites have come from in terms of page size, composition, and adoption of performance best practices, as well as predicting their future direction.
As today’s web experience has evolved over the years, web users are now likely to use mobile devices to browse dynamic pages and expect a high degree of responsiveness. Unfortunately, congested networks and unoptimized web pages lead to a frustrating lag time for users and many sites face an overall increase – not a decrease – in sub-optimal user experiences.
Radware’s report shares valuable insights gleaned from analyzing the top 100 retail websites and helps answer what factors contribute to changes in web speed as well as a list of 14 best practices and performance techniques that site owners can leverage to optimize and accelerate their page load times.
Studies have shown that online shoppers will abandon a web page after waiting just three seconds to load. In this Spring report, Radware has uncovered that 9% of the top 100 leading retail web pages took ten or more seconds to become interactive, which is down considerably from 22% of sites last quarter.
Although this improvement is promising, it is still far off of the three second target that most users expect. In the report, it was found that only 14% of the top 100 retail sites rendered feature content within this acceptable threshold.
“There is no doubt that web pages have been increasing in complexity as well in payload size. Although this trend is focused on enhancing the user experience, it can unfortunately correlate to slower load times if a page is not properly optimized,” says Kent Alstad, vice president of acceleration for Radware. “Our latest report has found that the median page size is 1354 KB in size. As images comprise over 50% of the average page’s total weight, almost half of the top 100 sites have failed to implement core optimization techniques such as image compression. This alone, can help deliver pages quicker to the viewer.”
Radware also lists the fastest ecommerce sites which were the quickest to display actionable content. From a user experience perspective, time to interact (TTI) is a more meaningful performance metric than load time, as it indicates when a page begins to be usable. Among those listed is a well-known Internet based retailer which took 16.3 seconds to load, but boasted a TTI of 1.4 seconds. “When we discovered what made sites load fast, we found that the median page was 932 KB in size and actually deferred resources that were not part of the page’s critical rendering path.
These non-essential resources were mainly ‘invisible’ such as third-party scripts that aren’t needed until a page completes its rendering. Deferral is a fundamental performance technique and should be employed to optimize the critical rendering path of websites,” added Alstad.
Other findings in the Spring 2015 report include:
- Despite the fact that images comprise 50 to 60% of the average page’s total weight, 43% of the top 100 sites failed to implement image compression, a core optimization technique.
- Page complexity which is a greater performance challenge than page size has grown by 26% in the past two years. The more complex a page – the greater risk for page failure.
- Among the top 100 pages, the median time for pages to interact is 5.2 seconds. Although down from the previous quarter of 6.5 seconds, this is considerably slower than users’ wait-time threshold of 3 seconds.
Also outlined in the report is the “performance comeback” of two large eRetailers that show significant changes in their TTI compared to Radware’s report of Fall 2014. Time to interact for the online retailers were 2.4 and 2.9 seconds down from 5.2 and 7.2 seconds respectively, demonstrating the value of implementing optimization techniques to decrease load times of web pages.
To access the “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Spring 2015,” visit: www.radware.com/spring-sotu2015
To access an infographic of the findings for page speed and web performance, visit: http://www.radware.com/Documents/Infographics/SOTU-EcommercePageSpeed-Spring-2015
The tests in this study were conducted using an online tool called WebPagetest – an open-source project primarily developed and supported by Google – which simulates page load times from a real user’s perspective using real browsers.
Radware tested the home page of every site in the Alexa Retail 500 nine consecutive times. The system automatically clears the cache between tests. The median test result for each home page was recorded and used in our calculations.
The tests were conducted on February 16, 2015, via the WebPagetest.org server in Dulles, VA, using Chrome 40 on a DSL connection.
In very few cases, WebPagetest rendered a blank page or an error in which none of the page rendered. These instances were represented as null in the test appendix.
Also, in very few cases WebPagetest.org rendered a page in more than 60 seconds (the default timeout for WebPagetest.org). In these cases, 60 seconds was used for the result instead of null.
To identify the Time to Interact (TTI) for each page, we generated a timed filmstrip view of the median page load for each site in the Alexa Retail 100. Time to Interact is defined as the moment that the featured page content and primary call-to-action button or menu is rendered in the frame.
Radware (NASDAQ: RDWR), is a global leader of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual, cloud and software defined data centers. Its award-winning solutions portfolio delivers service level assurance for business-critical applications, while maximizing IT efficiency. Radware’s solutions empower more than 10,000 enterprise and carrier customers worldwide to adapt to market challenges quickly, maintain business continuity and achieve maximum productivity while keeping costs down. For more information, please visit www.radware.com
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