main

Application Acceleration & Optimization

Why Do So Many Ecommerce Sites Make the Same Three Usability Mistakes?

August 4, 2014 — by Tammy Everts5

If you work on an ecommerce site, you don’t need me to tell you that building and maintaining an online retail presence is fraught with challenges. Web pages are more dynamic and more complex than ever. And at the other end of the equation, shoppers have ever-increasing expectations for better prices, richer content, and faster experiences.

Meeting these demands isn’t always easy, which is why, when we conducted our latest quarterly research into the performance of the top 500 retail websites, we weren’t completely surprised to learn that many of the top retailers are making the same set of design decisions that ultimately hurt web performance. The good news is that these mistakes represent excellent “low-hanging fruit” opportunities to optimize their pages.

We analyzed filmstrip views depicting the frame-by-frame rendering for the top 100 home pages. This exercise revealed three recurring performance and usability problems. In each of these examples, we identified common performance culprits and solutions, outlined below.

1. Pages that are blank in the browser for several seconds, then suddenly populate.

There is a measurable usability consequence of delaying the rendering of feature content: in one eyetracking study, it was found that a user who endures an eight-second download delay spends only 1% of their total viewing time looking at the featured space on a page. In contrast, a user who receives instantaneous page rendering spends 20% of their viewing time within the feature area of a page.

Proflowers-filmstrip

Solution: Poorly executed stylesheets, JavaScript, and third-party scripts can block the rest of the page from rendering. Ensure that these resources are optimized and correctly implemented so as not to block the critical rendering path. Defer non-essential scripts to load after the primary content renders.

2. Pages in which the call to action is the last thing to render.

Placing the call to action (CTA) at the bottom of feature banners has become such a widely practiced design convention that most of us do not think twice about it; however, it can incur a significant performance penalty in pages that use baseline images, which load line by line or in chunks. In many of the pages we studied, it was noted that the CTA – arguably the most critical page element – was often the last visible element to render.

Costco-filmstrip

Solution: Consider using progressive JPEGs, which render in layers of increasingly high resolutions. By serving visual content to the page more quickly, progressive JPEGs can improve both actual and perceived page speed. You should also ensure you’re using other image optimization techniques, such as compression and spriting, where applicable.

3. Pages in which a popup blocks the main page before it finishes rendering.

This was a recurring usability issue on many sites: within seconds of arriving at the home page, users are served with a pop-up before the rest of the page has rendered. Not only do these pop-ups act as a usability irritant, but they can also slow down or block the rendering of the main page content.

There are some use cases that support on-arrival pop-ups, such as requiring a user to identify their location in order to serve accurate item and shipping costs; however, in many cases the pop-ups noted in our study were for newsletters, surveys, and other opt-in marketing campaigns.

Overstock-filmstrip

Solution: Delay the pop-up for at least ten seconds, to give visitors an opportunity to view the page. Ensure that pop-ups function across every browser type. And perform A/B tests to ensure that your pop-ups are converting at the rate you expect.

Get the report

For more insights, as well as 15 tips for accelerating your website’s user experience, download the State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance.

Tammy Everts

As a former senior researcher, writer, and solution evangelist for Radware, Tammy Everts spent years researching the technical, business, and human factor sides of web/application performance. Before joining Radware, Tammy shared her research findings through countless blog posts, presentations, case studies, whitepapers, articles, reports, and infographics for Strangeloop Networks.

5 comments

  • Whatsapp Messages

    November 16, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Hello, this weekend is nice for me, for the reason that this occasion i am
    reading this enormous educational paragraph here at my home.

    Reply

  • www.fifaworldhacks.com

    January 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Hi! Your webpage is loading lagging in my opinion, the site consumed like a minute or two to finally load,
    I actually have no idea whether it is entirely me or maybe your web site then again facebook loaded for me.

    Well, Thanks for posting such type of superb blog post.
    Most people who actually discovered this great site must have found this short article literally
    beneficial. I hope I will be able to get further awesome content and I
    also should certainly complement simply by stating
    you have done fabulous work. I now have your site
    book marked to look at blog you post.

    Reply

  • dota2hack.org

    January 13, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Hey! Your site is running slowly for me,
    the site consumed like a minute or two to reload, I personally do not know whether or not it’s
    entirely me or maybe your web page however , facebook performed acceptable for me.
    However , thank you for submitting marvelous blog post.
    Nearly everybody who actually discovered this site should
    have noticed this short article incredibly very
    helpful. I hope I will be able to find further incredible content and I also should flatter by saying you’ve done wonderful job.

    To get more understanding through articles you publish, I actually have added
    this web site.

    Reply

  • March 2016 Printable Calendar

    February 8, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read
    stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess
    I will just bookmark this site.

    Reply

  • gta 5 android

    March 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Hi there! Your webpage is loading lagging if you ask me,
    the site consumed just like a minute to finally reload, I have no idea whether it’s
    just me or maybe your webpage however google and yahoo loaded for me.
    Nevertheless, Thanks for creating such type of fabulous article.
    Almost everyone who visited this website really should have
    observed this article seriously handy. I personally must mention that you really have done
    superb work with this as well as hope to find
    many more amazing stuff through you. Just after taking a look at your article,
    I have bookmarked the website.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *