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The 10 most popular posts of 2014 (so far)

August 19, 2014 — by Tammy Everts1

Autumn is shaping up to be a very full season, so I’m taking advantage of the relative quiet to take a little R&R. I’ll see you back here in September. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of posts that Google Analytics tells me people liked. I hope you like them, too.

1. Stop the presses: Has the average web page actually gotten SMALLER?

BLOG-HTTPArchive-May2014-pagesizeAccording to the HTTP Archive, in May of this year the average top 1,000 web page was 1491 KB in size, 5% smaller than it was in November 2013, when the average page reached a record size of 1575 KB. Does this finding represent the start of a new trend toward smaller pages, or is it just an isolated incident?

2. How to create the illusion of faster web pages (while also creating actual happier users)

In our most recent State of the Union for ecommerce performance, we found that start render time for the top 500 retailers was 2.9 seconds. In other words, a typical visitor sits and stares at a blank screen for almost 3 seconds before he or she even begins to see something. Not good. But there’s hope. But here are eight tips to help improve perceived web performance.

3. Waterfalls 101: How to use a waterfall chart to diagnose your website’s performance pains

If you already live and breathe waterfall charts, this post isn’t for you. (But this one might be.) This post is for people who are interested in performance but don’t necessarily have a lot of technical know-how. It’s for people who want to crack the hood and learn:

  • why pages behave the way they do,
  • how to begin to diagnose performance issues before sending out red-flag emails to everyone on your team, and
  • how to talk performance with the experts within your organization who do live and breathe waterfalls.

4. New findings: The median top 100 ecommerce page takes 6.2 seconds to render primary content

BLOG-SummerSOTU-slowdownEvery quarter at Radware, we measure and analyze the performance of the top 500 retail websites. And every quarter, I’ve grown accustomed to the persistence of two trends: pages are growing bigger and, not coincidentally, slower. But while I expected to see some growth and slowdown in our latest research — released last month in our State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance [Summer 2014] — I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to see this much.

5. How does web page speed affect conversions? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Performance has only recently started to make headway into the conversion rate optimization (CRO) space. These inroads are long overdue, but still, it’s good to see movement. In the spirit of doing my part to hustle thing along, here’s a collection of infographics representing real-world examples of the huge impact of page speed on conversions.

6. 12 websites that prove RWD and performance CAN play well together

There’s a lot of debate about the performance pros and cons of responsive design. While RWD does present performance challenges, these challenges aren’t insurmountable and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor performance. In this post, I tested 60 sites that have been lauded for their awesome RWD implementation. While it’s true that 80% of these sites failed to deliver a relatively fast user experience, 20% succeeded, proving it can be done.

7. There are more mobile-optimized sites than ever. So why are mobile pages getting bigger?

In 2011, the average page served to a mobile device was 475 KB. Today, the average page is 740 KB. Put that number in the context of your data plan and think about it. This is just one of the eye-opening findings from this dive into the Mobile HTTP Archive.

8. The Great Web Slowdown [INFOGRAPHIC]

This is a poster version of the infographics we created to accompany our Winter 2013/14 State of the Union for Ecommerce Performance. At the time, the median Time To Interact for the top 100 retailers was 5 seconds and the median load time was 10 seconds. Compare that to our most recent SOTU, which found that the median TTI was 6.2 seconds and median load time was 10.7 seconds.

9. New findings: Retail sites that use a CDN are slower than sites that do not

Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance - CDNs and time to interactThis post generated a bit of controversy when it went live. Our quarterly ecommerce performance research at Radware found that using a content delivery network (CDN) correlates to slower Time to Interact, not faster.

But correlation isn’t causation, and this finding shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism of CDNs. Sites that use a CDN are more likely to incorporate large high-resolution images and other rich content, as well as being more likely to implement third-party marketing scripts, such as trackers and analytic tools. All of these resources can have a significant impact on performance, especially if they’re not implemented with a “performance first” approach. Takeaway: keep your CDN, but look at how you can leverage other performance optimization techniques as well.

10. Nine web performance predictions for 2014

The year’s more than half over. How many of these have come true?

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.

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