REPORT: State of the Union for Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance (Winter 2013-14)

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Our newest quarterly performance state of the union, released earlier this week, analyzes the load time of the top 500 ecommerce sites and compares their current performance to their performance one year ago. Among other things, we learned that the median web page takes 9.3 seconds to load — a 21% slowdown in the past twelve months.

Background

Every quarter, we measure the load times of the top 500 ecommerce websites (as ranked by Alexa.com) with our eye on a number of performance metrics, including load time, time to interact (aka TTI — the moment when a page’s primary content loads and becomes interactive), page size and composition, and adoption of performance best practices.

The purpose of this research — now available in our Ecommerce Web Performance State of the Union (Winter 2013-14) — is to obtain a current snapshot of how websites perform for real users in real-world scenarios, as well as an understanding of past performance patterns that allows us to predict future trends.

Highlights of our key findings include:

1. The median page has slowed down by 21% in just one year.

Ecommerce Web Performance State of the Union (Winter 2013-14)

The median top 500 ecommerce home page takes 9.3 seconds to load. A year ago, the median page took 7.7 seconds to load. The majority of online shoppers will abandon a page after waiting 3 seconds for it to load.

2. The top 100 sites are slower than the rest of the pack.

Ecommerce Web Performance State of the Union (Winter 2013-14)

We compared load times for the top 100 ecommerce sites to load times for the top 500 sites. Among the top 100 sites, the median page load is 10 seconds – making the median top 100 site 7.5% slower than the median top 500 site (at 9.3s).

3. At 5 seconds, the median time to interact (TTI) does not meet user expectations for sub-3-second load times.

Ecommerce Web Performance State of the Union (Winter 2013-14)

Only 20% of the top 100 sites had a TTI (defined as the point at which a page displays its primary interactive content) of 3 seconds or less. 26% of the top 100 sites took 8 seconds or more to become interactive.

Why These Findings Matter

When it comes to performance, spectacular site outages grab headlines, but slow-loading pages don’t. Much of this has to do with public visibility into the problem. When Facebook or Amazon go down, it doesn’t take long for the entire Internet to know about it. When a site is slow, it may earn a few cranky Twitter comments, but that’s about the extent of the reporting.

The advantage to very public outages is that companies know about the problem — fast. While damage control isn’t fun, the arc of an outage is straightforward — site goes down, public outcry ensues, site goes back up, usually within hours — and has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Site slowdowns have no such tidy arc. There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from lack of real-time performance visibility at the site owner’s end to the fact that slowdowns can be erratic and difficult to pinpoint.

While outages carry a higher cost penalty per hour than slowness, website slowdowns occur 10 times more frequently than outages. According to one study, website slowdowns can ultimately have twice the negative impact on an organization’s revenues as outages.

The key takeaway from this report is that site owners must not only ensure that their pages are fast enough to meet user expectations, but they must also have ongoing real-time awareness of how their sites perform for users in the real world in order to ensure that slowness is not creating a slow revenue leak that is ultimately more damaging than even the most dramatic outage.

DOWNLOAD: State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance (Winter 2013-14)

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6 COMMENTS

  1. An average of 9,3 seconds seems pretty fast, my own website Computer Stories loads at 8,95 seconds according to my Google Analytics data 🙂 (though that would be in Firefox, in other browsers it’s slower).

  2. Most web-pages are way to full of “stuff”. Pare them down into immediately pertinent content and they’ll load fine.

  3. Every system administrator on the planet knows that there are numerous shenanigans that ISP’s can do to tinker with internet performance that are impossible to trace and to impossible to uncover. Three people in a huge ISP might know about it: Some non-C level exec (for deniability,) a mid-level data center manager, and a system programmer who wrote the simple script, and might have been laid off a year ago. Voila: Targeted but random slow-downs on top sites. This easily allows an ISP to claim the need for more revenue via metered billing of users and the establishment of toll booths for the bigger content providers and web sites. It is exactly what I would do if I ran Comcast or any of the ISP’s. It is always in the monopolist’s best interest to create and maintain artificial scarcity. And to invest little or nothing in innovation. It is why we MUST change the way we organize the internet in America. Our competitive and technology standing in the world depends on it. Not to mention the price gouging of consumers, and windfall profits that the big ISP monopolists are publicly talking about and counting on.

  4. There is no mention of the ‘fact’ that web pages are now 10 to 20 times larger files than just few years ago. Most web pages are loaded up with useless junk videos and ads.

  5. tallguy74, we go into that issue in some detail in the report. We found that the median top 500 page had a payload of 1436 KB. In our most recent state of the union, which was released last month, we found that median page size had increased to 1510 KB — 5% growth in just three months.

    Pages today are twice as big as they were in 2010, when we first started doing this benchmarking research. Back then, the median page size was 779 KB, which seems tiny by today’s standards, but seemed huge at the time.

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