Case study: PrintingForLess.com proves that mortal companies are no longer settling for “fast enough”

We just published a new case study on the Strangeloop site. On the surface, it’s pretty straightforward. It showcases two common-sense ideas:

1. “Fast enough” is not, in fact, fast enough.

57% of web users expect a page to load in 3 seconds. Yet too often site owners settle for load times of 5 or 6 seconds and call that fast enough. (Case in point, last year the average Fortune 500 home page took just over 7 seconds to load, while the average home page for the Alexa Retail 2000 took more than 11 seconds. See this report for more on this.)

2. Know how fast your site performs for real, live visitors.

As I’ve gone on about in the not-too-distant past, too many companies rely on benchmarks that are just plain wrong.

Simple common sense, right? But as most of us know, common sense is actually pretty uncommon. And I think that’s what makes this case study special.

When PrintingForLess.com (PFL) came to us, the average page on their site took 5.6 seconds to load. By a lot of people’s standards, this is considered decent performance. But for the people at PFL, 5.6 seconds wasn’t acceptable. They serve millions of visitors a year, and their mantra is “Be easy to do business with.” At a gut level, they knew that 5.6 seconds is not easy to do business with. So we got them down to around 3 seconds. And we’ll keep working to make them even faster.

Another aspect of the PFL story is the fact that they didn’t benchmark their site based on how it performed in their main office, under optimal conditions. Instead, they checked it out on the road, getting a real-world picture of how slow it actually appears to customers in small cities and towns. These customers are PFL’s bread and butter, so this all makes sense when you think of it. But how many companies think of it?

Read the full case study here.

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