Your 10 favorite posts of 2011

A couple of days ago, I said that it wouldn’t be December without a set of predictions. But it really wouldn’t be December without a roundup of the most-read posts on this site.

1. Early findings: 97% of mobile end-user response time happens at the front end

I revisited Steve Souders’s four-year-old stat that says that 80% of end-user response time occurs at the front end, and made a surprising discovery: After analyzing beacon data from 5 million Strangeloop customer transactions, I found that the front end is where a whopping 97% of mobile response time happens.

2. How to perform a 5-minute page speed/revenue analysis of your e-commerce site

I converted a performance non-believer, first by showing him that his site was 30% faster in IE8 than in IE7, and then by pointing out that the value per visitor on his site was 29% higher for IE8 than it was for IE7. Using two simple tools you probably already have at hand, you can quickly calculate how a faster user experience correlates to greater order value on your own website. (We later used this post as the basis for a short webinar, which you can watch here.)

3. The 12 most-asked questions about how Google factors page speed into its search rankings

It’s a well-known fact that site speed is a critical ranking factor for organic search. One of the most-asked questions I receive is: How exactly does Google do this? Over the last year and a bit, I’ve done quite a bit of digging to get the answers. I thought it would be useful to start an FAQ-style repository for the answers.

4. Automating complexity: The future of website performance optimization

Applying performance best practices in a general sense will take care of 80% of front-end web performance problems, but the last crucial 20% can only be achieved through painful real world testing and iterative problem solving. We need to find a way to do this quickly and cost-effectively. Back in January, this was my vision.

5. Google’s new Page Speed service: A handy resource for smaller site owners

When Google announced their Page Speed service in July, the most frequent question fielded was, “Is the Page Speed service a threat?” In short, no. If anything, it offers yet more validation that site speed is a crucial business issue.

6. Fourth-party calls: What you don’t know can hurt your site… and your visitors

There’s a growing awareness of the fact that third-party content can cause a major hit to your website’s performance. Good. Great. Now we need to tackle what I’ve dubbed “fourth-party calls”. Not only can these insidious server calls leach performance, they also have massive security implications.

7. Slow websites make people angry

Aberdeen Group has reported that “A one-second delay in page load time equals a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.” But what does that customer dissatisfaction look like in the real world? I searched Twitter to find out. It wasn’t pretty.

8. Front-end optimization: It isn’t over till it’s over. And it’s never over.

A concise example illustrating three important things about front-end optimization (FEO): the current performance rules are not complete; these performance rules will never be static; and the front-end optimization market is evolving faster than the current performance tools can measure.

9. This is your brain on a slow website: Lab experiments quantify “web stress”

Fascinating study: Brain wave analysis reveals that people have to concentrate up to 50% more when using badly performing websites. EOG technology and behavioral analysis also reveal greater agitation and stress in these periods.

10. Why the performance measurement island you trust is sinking

I routinely encounter customers that have been led, by the very experts they trust, into believing that their site performance can be measured by the wrong tools. This post was written to explain exactly why you can’t always believe the experts.

This is my last post of 2011. Before I sign off for the year, I want to take a moment to thank you for coming to this site, for reading, and for your thoughtful comments. It’s a privilege to write for such an engaged community at such an exciting time in our industry. I’m looking forward to even more exciting times ahead.

Related posts: