Monday, 26 June 2017

Top Websites fail to meet load time expectations - report

Radware
Tuesday 22 March 16

Many of the top desktop websites in travel, news, sports, and ecommerce fail the most basic test of usability: load time. That’s the big takeaway from the 2016 State of the Union: Multi-Industry Web Performance (Desktop Edition) report from Radware, a leading provider of cyber security and application delivery solutions ensuring optimal service level for applications in virtual, cloud, and software defined data centres. Travel websites, for example, draw 75 percent of their bookings from desktop users, yet 80 percent of top travel sites take more than 3 seconds to load on desktop, longer than most users are willing to wait. The findings are even worse for top news sites, 78 percent of which exceed the 3-second window…

Many of the top desktop websites in travel, news, sports, and ecommerce fail the most basic test of usability: load time. That’s the big takeaway from the 2016 State of the Union: Multi-Industry Web Performance (Desktop Edition) report from Radware, a leading provider of cyber security and application delivery solutions ensuring optimal service level for applications in virtual, cloud, and software defined data centres.

Travel websites, for example, draw 75 percent of their bookings from desktop users, yet 80 percent of top travel sites take more than 3 seconds to load on desktop, longer than most users are willing to wait. The findings are even worse for top news sites, 78 percent of which exceed the 3-second window, and the top 50 sports websites, all but three of which take longer than 3 seconds to load. Ecommerce was the one bright spot in the study, with a mean load time of 3.1 seconds; nearly half of the top 50 shopping sites load in 3 seconds or less.

“Three seconds doesn’t sound like much, but 57 percent of users will abandon a site that takes any longer,” said Kent Alstad, VP of Acceleration at Radware. “That means lost sales and lost advertising revenue. Despite the rise of mobile, desktop sites still represent three-quarters of travel site bookings, have higher conversion rates than mobile for ecommerce sites, hold attention longer on news sites, and are preferred by 65 percent of sports site visitors. Yet many site owners fail to optimise images, scripts, and HTML—even as these elements increase in number—leading to sluggish load times, site abandonment, and brand damage. These are prime opportunities for improving performance and attracting and retaining customers.”

Here are some of the key findings reported in Radware’s 2016 State of the Union: Multi-Industry Web Performance (Desktop Edition):

Travel and Hospitality. Priceline, Hotels.com, and TripAdvisor all landed great scores for their time to interact (TTI)—the load time needed before users can take action on the page. As a whole, however, travel and hospitality sites had a median TTI of 4.1 seconds, 1.1 seconds outside the 3-second window. A major airline site and a leading hotel site both had TTIs twice as long as the 3-second target.

News and Media. The Guardian and The Huffington Post had TTIs of 1.2 seconds and 2.5 seconds respectively, both meeting user expectations with well-optimised desktop sites that prioritise above-the-fold content and optimise images. But across the board, too many images—many of which aren’t optimised—and excessive JavaScript requests slowed down news site pages. Slow sites will deliver fewer impressions and alienate potential subscribers, a blow to the many media dependent on advertising revenue. Two very prominent news sites, with TTIs of 5.8 seconds and 6.5 seconds respectively, could be experiencing those consequences.

Sports. While 65 percent of sports fans prefer a desktop or laptop computer to get their sports fix, according to a Sporting News Media study, the trends that emerged while testing for this category showed few sites scoring well. Sports sites were generally the biggest, slowest, and least-optimised of the categories tested. More than a third of the sites tested took at least twice the 3-second target to load, with a median TTI of 5.2 seconds—the longest of the industry categories tested for this report. NFL.com was one of the few well-optimised sites, loading in a relatively quick 2.9 seconds.

Ecommerce. With an average ecommerce conversion rate of 2.71 percent, traditional desktop sites outperform those on both tablets (2.51 percent) and smartphones (0.96 percent). Ecommerce desktop sites have improved from the last time we researched them for our Summer 2015 State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance report. The median TTI is 3.1 seconds, just shy of the 3-second threshold users expect. Amazon and Ikea both had quick TTIs of 1.8 seconds, and Ebay was close behind at 2.5 seconds. Many global sites scored over 4 seconds, however, illustrating the need for WPO best practices in emerging markets.

Read the full 2016 State of the Union: Multi-Industry Web Performance (Desktop Edition) report, which includes the findings, takeaways, and web performance best practices.

Methodology

Sites were selected from the Website Rankings of SimilarWeb, one of the top website rankings and analytics services. Its data comes from four main sources: A panel of over 200 million monitored devices, currently the largest panel in the industry; local internet service providers (ISPs) located in many different countries; web crawlers; and hundreds of thousands of direct measurement sources from websites and apps connected directly to SimilarWeb.

The top 50 sites for the four sectors selected for the report (Ecommerce, News & Media, Sports, and Travel & Hospitality) were analysed utilising WebPagetest, a highly-respected web diagnostics tool supported by a bevy of the world’s leading information technology companies, including Radware.

Sites were tested three times in February 2016, each over an actual 5 Mbps connection utilising Chrome 48 on real computers, with the median runs identified.

The bulk testing generated a host of information as an aggregate report, which was pared down and sorted by site and various key metrics.

Each individual test run also generated its own test page with filmstrip views and a video of the site’s loading, as well as grades (A-F) on how they utilised keep-alives, compressed transfers and images, cached static content, or used a CDN effectively. The test pages included waterfall charts, content breakdowns, and request details.


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