You don’t have to be a web developer or part of a marketing team to know that having a fast, responsive site also boosts business. A fast site keeps customers from getting impatient, encouraging them to stay longer and increasing the odds of a purchase. Walmart discovered that purchases decline sharply when load time increases from one to four seconds, while every second gained in speed increases the likelihood of a sale by two percent.
Web performance specialist Dynatrace analyzed the top e-commerce sites and ranked their speed and performance in multiple categories, including mobile loading time, end user experience, home page performance and transaction speed. Based on those results, here are some techniques these sites use to ensure they have a faster user experience and they can boost their business.
Keep It Simple
The top performing overall site in Dynatrace’s study was Costco. It ranked first among all sites in transaction speed and ranked in the top five in three other categories. Reviewing Costco’s homepage identifies some of the keys to the site’s exceptional performance.
On mobile devices, the homepage’s top area displays icons for quick access to transaction-related features, including the user’s account, a drop-down list of shopping categories and a shopping cart. A rotating image display highlighting current hot offers is also visible above the fold. Beneath this, large tabs display best-selling products. The site’s desktop version shows the same items, but the categories list unfolds into a fully visible menu on the left sidebar, and the rotating offer appears to the right of the menu.
Amway’s site helps the company generate $10.8 billion annually, according to Forbes, and it came in second overall in Dynatrace’s study. Amway’s site reflects many of the same best practices incorporated into Costco’s site.
The mobile version of the site has a clean look that is organized around four main horizontal divisions. The top area features the company’s logo, a product search bar and icons for key functions, such as logging in and using the shopping cart. Beneath this is a rotating image that showcases top posts. The bottom half of the page displays menus for shopping, accessing resources and starting a business. A footer area features social media sharing buttons and links to items, such as contact information. On the desktop version of the site, the company logo moves to the top left, additional menu options become visible on the right side of the top banner area, the rotating image display takes up the largest part of the screen and links to other highlighted items appear below the image.
With the help of Google PageSpeed Insights, one technical feature that marks Amway’s site is the way it prioritizes visible content. Google explains that when content above the fold takes long to load, it can cause extra trips between the server and the user’s browser, delaying load times. Above-the-fold loading can be sped up by structuring HTML to load critical content first and load main content before sidebars.
Speed Things Up
Apple’s site came in third in Dynatrace’s study, ranking second in transaction speed and third in web user speed. Reflecting Apple’s minimalistic design philosophy, the site’s mobile display divides into three simple sections: a top bar that shows wordless icons for accessing key functions, an upper area that shows one featured ad and a lower area that shows a second ad. On the desktop version of the site, the top bar expands to include verbal labels for additional menu options, and the pair of featured ads become part of a rotating carousel display that shows additional ads.
Google PageSpeed Insights indicates that one best practice Apple follows is enabling compression. All contemporary browsers can apply gzip compression to HTTP requests, which reduces the size of transferred data up to 90 percent and speed download time. Google Developers provides links to online resources for enabling compression.