Website Performance: The What, Who, and Why

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Isovera post on how to design for website performance

Did you know that 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? Website performance matters! But do you know the basics of what it is and how to track it within your own organization?

MassTLC member Isovera recently shared their expertise on the subject in a piece originally published on the company blog. You can read the full text, written by Isovera’s Maggie Newberg, below. 

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Website Performance: The What, Who, and Why

When I was eight I quit ballet because I was too scared to perform on stage. It’s not that I thought my performance was outright terrible, I simply felt that I would be terrible compared to everyone else and therefore would have a subjectively terrible performance.

But while tutus, pliés, and Swan Lake may not be very relevant in my life today, the concept of subjective performance is, and, as part of a team specializing in web development and design, the concept of subjective performance in websites is especially so.

What is site performance?

Site performance, much as its name hints, is how well a site performs, which is largely determined by site speed. When a website is performing well, it means that a site is able to load and render in a certain amount of time; when a website is underperforming, it is not.

What influences site performance?

Site performance is measured by absolute speed (how fast your website is in units) as well as subjective speed (how fast your website is in comparison to other sites). The two main variables of speed, and therefore performance, are load time and render time. Load time is the amount of time it takes for a web page to fully load and display what is on a webpage. Render time is the amount of time it takes an engine to turn HTML code into the visual display that we see when we click on a site or page.

Load and render time influence performance because they determine how long it takes for a website to load as seen from a site user’s perspective. A long load and render time means a longer wait for a user to see a site, and lower website performance. Load and render time can change depending on the environment (for instance, with different devices or connection speeds).

Who cares about site performance and why is it so important?

Now that we’ve gotten the down low of what website performance is as well as what it is influenced by, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of why website performance is so important. Website performance is so important because it influences site user engagement and satisfaction, which in turn affects conversions. That’s right, I’ll say it again: web performance affects conversions.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at just some of the statistics on how important web performance is to conversions:

  • 47% of customers expect website pages to load in 2 seconds or less (Experience Dynamics)

  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load (hobo)

  • 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load (DoubleClick)

  • 1 second delays lead to a 7% reduction in conversions (hubspot)

  • If Google increased its page load time by 0.5 seconds, they’d get 25% fewer searches (optimum systems)

  • In 2016, two-thirds of global consumers left websites at least 25% of the time without buying anything because they were tired of waiting for the website to load (CDNetworks)

Ultimately, we can see that factors of web performance affect the conversions on a site. Since organizations thrive from conversions, it is imperative to make sure that a website is up to performance par and is performing subjectively well (just imagine: what does it matter if your site has a superspeedyfast load time if others in your industry have a superspeedyfaster load time).

How to measure site performance & gain a competitive advantage

Knowing that site performance is good, but it’s not enough- we also need to use that knowledge to improve our websites and organizations. To do this, we quantify performance and benchmark how a site is doing in comparison to historical, competitor, and industry data.

But we know that performance can be subjective, so how can we measure it? At Isovera, we use a tool called a “performance budget” that compiles measurements of site performance factors for benchmarking. By comparing factors of your website’s performance with historical or peer websites, it allows you to see if you are regressing, or where you fall in an industry. This allows you to identify which factors you need to adjust to optimize your performance, thus giving your website a competitive advantage over industry peers. 

Recap on site performance

This post has covered:

  • What site performance is- how fast your site can load and render

  • What influences site performance- speed

  • Who site performance is important to and why- consumers care, affecting your conversions

  • How to measure site performance- using performance budgets

We hope our quick-read has given you insights on how to further your organization’s site, and the importance of website performance. If we’ve piqued your interest in website optimization through performance budgets, we’d recommend you stay tuned for our upcoming article on performance budgets.