Ecommerce web pages are 22% slower than they were in 2012, top retailers are underperforming the rest of the pack, and browser development is not keeping pace with the increasing size and complexity of modern web pages.
These were among the findings of our quarterly performance benchmarking report, released today: State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance [Spring 2013].
The report contains performance data from 2,000 of the world’s leading retail websites, as ranked by Alexa.com. The data focuses on the user experience for retail customers shopping via Chrome 23, Firefox 17, and Internet Explorer 9.
In addition to measuring the performance of the top 2,000 sites, we isolated the top 100 sites to assess how their performance and page composition fared alongside the rest of the pack. We also compared the current measurements against historical performance data gathered for the same set of sites over the past two years.
Based on historical trends, we expected to see some degradation in page load time; this has been the trend since 2010, when this set of sites was initially measured. We did not, however, expect to see such a dramatic performance decline.
A quick summary of some of the report’s key findings:
- Load times have increased by 22% in just one year. The median load time for a first-time visitor to a home page in the Alexa Retail 2000 was 7.25 seconds, compared to the median of 5.94 seconds recorded in December 2011.
- Top retailers underperformed the rest of the pack. The median top 100 site had a load time of 8.23 seconds, 14% slower than the overall median load time of 7.25 seconds. Top sites are also slowing down at a faster rate: 28% compared to 22% for the top 2,000 sites.
- Firefox outperformed Chrome and Internet Explorer. With a median load time of 6.64 seconds, Firefox was 8.4% faster than Internet Explorer 9, which had a median load time of 7.25 seconds. More significantly, we noted that median load times have slowed down for all three browsers. This suggests that, despite the huge performance leaps made by browser vendors, development cannot keep pace with the demands placed by ever-growing and increasingly complex web pages.
So what do these findings mean for site owners?
“The fact that the median site has slowed down by 22% in just one year should be alarming for retail site owners,” says Joshua Bixby, Radware vice president, application acceleration. “This is a massive drop in performance. If this slowdown rate goes unchecked, we could see median load times of 9 seconds or more by the end of 2013, which is simply unacceptable for online shoppers. As pages continue to grow bigger and more complex, site owners need to take aggressive steps to mitigate this growth.”
For more findings and analysis, download the free report: State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance [Spring 2013]