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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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*NB: Don’t panic. Correlation does not equal causation. More on that later in this post.

In our latest quarterly research into the performance of the top 500 ecommerce sites, we found that while 75% of the top 100 websites use a content delivery network, CDN usage doesn’t correlate to faster load times. Sites that use a CDN take a full second longer to render primary content than their non-CDN-using counterparts.

Today, I want to discuss why these findings aren’t as surprising as they sound, what CDNs fix versus what they can’t fix, and how site owners can ensure they’re covering all their performance bases.

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