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Last week, we released our quarterly State of the Union for ecommerce web performance, which, among other things, found that the median top 100 retail site takes 6.2 seconds to render primary content and 10.7 seconds to fully load. We also found that the median page is 1677 KB in size — 67% larger than it was just one year ago, when the median page was 1007 KB.

These findings and more — including Time to Interact and Load Time for the ten fastest sites — are illustrated in this poster-style set of infographics.

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Last week, I was extremely fortunate in being able to speak at the annual Shop.org Online Merchandising Workshop. In the performance community, we so often find ourselves preaching to the converted: to each other, to developers, and to others who focus on the under-the-hood aspect of web performance. Attending this Shop.org event was a fantastic chance to talk with a completely different group of professionals — people in marketing and ecommerce — in other words, people who govern much of the high-level strategy and day-to-day decision-making that happens at retail sites.

When attending other speakers’ sessions, it was gratifying to see performance bubble up as a recurring theme. It was obvious to me that there’s an emerging sense of interest and urgency around performance. The tricky part is ensuring that performance gets its share of mental real estate among a group of professionals who are clearly already burdened with a massive set of challenges in the increasingly complex ecommerce space.

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Every 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 this week 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.

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When you consider how many things have to happen before anything begins to appear in the browser — from DNS lookup and TCP connection to parsing HTML, downloading stylesheets, and executing JavaScript — 1-second render times seem like an impossible dream. 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.

I talk a lot about page bloat, insidious third-party scripts, the challenges of mobile performance, and all the other things that make hitting these goals seem like an impossible feat. But rather than get discouraged, let me point you toward this great quote from Ilya Grigorik in his book High Performance Browser Networking:

“Time is measured objectively but perceived subjectively, and experiences can be engineered to improve perceived performance.”

Keep reading to find out about some tricks and techniques you can use to manipulate subjective time to your advantage.

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Earlier today, I had the privilege of speaking at Velocity Santa Clara on a topic near and dear to my heart: the mobile user experience. I presented research we conducted at Radware that I’m really excited about.

By now, most of us have internalized the fact that slow pages hurt mobile user metrics — from bounce rate to online revenues to long-term user retention. At Radware, we wanted to understand the neuroscience behind this in order to get a 360-degree view of mobile performance, so we engaged in the first documented study of the neurological impact of poor performance on mobile users. Here’s how we did it, and what we learned.

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My recent post about page growth (or page shrinkage, as the case may be) hit a nerve with a lot of people, so this week I thought I’d take my first dive into the Mobile HTTP Archive, the mobile counterpoint to the HTTP Archive I cited last week. The Mobile HTTP Archive tests the same list of URLs, but it does so using smartphones. This means that if a URL redirects to a mobile site, the Archive tests the mobile site.

Just like last week, I looked at the top 1,000 URLs. What I found won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog for a while. While there are many similarities between these findings and last week’s, there are also a number of insights that are unique to mobile devices.

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According to the HTTP Archive, the average top 1,000 web page is 1491 KB in size, 5% smaller than it was six months ago, when the average page reached a record size of 1575 KB.

But let’s not start celebrating yet.

Does this finding represent the start of a new trend toward smaller pages, or is it just an isolated incident? To answer this question, we need to take a look into the Archive’s other findings.

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I talk to a lot of people who have taken on the role of in-house performance evangelist at their organization, and I know it can be a hard, lonely job. Often it’s a self-appointed role because you’re genuinely passionate about web performance. And often you’re fighting a one-person battle in a workplace that’s already struggling to cover a lot of other technical bases with limited resources.

Over the past few months, we’ve been slowly rolling out Expert Talks, a series of easy-to-digest, solution-agnostic videos that provide brief explainers of key performance concepts. One of our goals in creating this series is to make it easier for you to evangelize within your organization by offering videos that you can use to explain whatever performance issue you’re trying to define or solve.

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