One Year Later – Websites are Going Nowhere Fast – New Radware Research Reveals Retailers Still Make Same Web Performance Mistakes
Radware’s quarterly research find median page load times have increased 49% from a year ago
Radware® (NASDAQ: RDWR), a leading provider of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual and cloud data centers, announced the release of its latest quarterly study titled “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2014.”
Radware’s latest study reveals that, of the top 100 retail websites, the median page has grown 67% in just one year and many are failing to leverage advanced techniques to help accelerate their pages. In the report, Radware finds that use of images is one of the single performance drains, as most site owners are not taking advantage of image optimization techniques that can dramatically improve both real and perceived load times.
Radware also found that performance degradation continues to escalate as retail web pages grow larger and more complex. The median top 100 ecommerce home page takes six seconds or longer to render its primary content to online visitors – a 27% slowdown over the past year. This render time is more than twice as slow as the ideal user experience of three seconds or less. Only 14% of the top 100 retail sites were able to deliver an optimal user experience. 17% took ten or more seconds just to be become interactive.
“We’re so accustomed to expecting to see high-quality images everywhere on the web that we take them for granted and don’t think about their heavy performance impact,” says Kent Alstad, vice president of acceleration for Radware. “Page size has a direct impact on page speed, and images comprise at least half a typical page’s weight. As such, they represent an extremely fertile ground for optimization. Yet we found that many leading retailers are not taking advantage of techniques such as image compression and progressive image rendering, which can enhance both load times and user experience.”
Other key findings from Radware’s latest report include:
- Websites are getting slower…fast.
In just one year, median time to interact (TTI) has slowed down by 27% (from 4.9 seconds to 6.2 seconds), and median load time has suffered a 49% increase (from 7.2 seconds to 10.7 seconds).
- Page size and complexity are major factors in this performance slowdown.
The median page has grown by 67% in just one year – from 1007 KB in Summer 2013 to 1677 KB now. In 2013, the median page contained 82 resource requests. Today, the median page contains 100 requests. Much of this growth in size and complexity is due to the proliferation of poorly optimized images and third-party scripts (e.g. page analytics, tracking beacons, and social buttons).
- Site owners are missing clear opportunities to better optimize their pages.
Most sites have implemented fundamental performance practices, but many are failing to leverage more advanced techniques and missing out on valuable opportunities to accelerate their pages.
While 96% of sites enable “keepalives” (a technique that allows TCP connections to remain open longer, thereby reducing the time spent re-opening connections) and 78% use a content delivery network to cache page resources closer to end users (thereby shortening server round trips and speeding up rendering time), most sites failed to properly implement image optimization techniques, such as compression and progressive JPEGs.
- Many sites are making the same three mistakes, which ultimately hurt the user experience.
A surprising number of sites experience the same recurring performance/usability problems, including delayed rendering and pop-ups that interrupt page render.
Radware’s quarterly “State of the Union” report measures and tracks the performance and page composition of the top 500 U.S. retail websites (as ranked by analytics firm Alexa.com) with the purpose of gaining ongoing visibility into the real-world performance of leading eCommerce sites. The study also aims to learn how these sites perform for visitors using the Internet under normal browsing conditions and provides strategies and best practices to enable site owners to enhance site performance.
“Web pages have never been as large and complex as they are today,” says Tammy Everts, web performance evangelist for Radware. “The performance problems unearthed in this research have been born out of all the great things we can now make pages do: dynamic content, high-resolution images, carousels, custom fonts, responsive design, and third-party scripts that gather sophisticated data about visitors. But all of this amazing functionality comes with a high performance price tag if it’s not implemented with performance in mind.”
To access the “State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Summer 2014,” which includes fifteen best practices that site owners can implement to accelerate their pages, visit: www.radware.com/summer-sotu2014
An infographic on the findings of page speed and web performance can be accessed here: https://www.slideshare.net/Radware/radware-sotu-summer2014webperformanceecommercereport
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 June 11, 2014, via the WebPagetest.org server in Dulles, VA, using Chrome 35 on a DSL connection. In very few cases, WebPage test 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 and cloud data centers. Its award-winning solutions portfolio delivers full resilience for business-critical applications, maximum IT efficiency, and complete business agility. 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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