Category : User Experience

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As a website owner, you have 100% control over your site, plus a hefty amount of control over the first and middle mile of the network your pages travel over. You can (and you should) optimize the heck out of your pages, invest in a killer back end, and deploy the best content delivery network that money can buy. These tactics put you in charge of several performance areas, which is great.

But when it comes to the last mile — or more specifically, the last few feet — matters are no longer in your hands.

Today, let’s review a handful of performance-leaching culprits that are outside your control — and which can add precious seconds to your load times.

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Some of the bulk and complexity of modern web pages is necessary. Larger images sell more products. Third-party scripts help you to better understand your visitors. But there’s a lot of unnecessary weight on most web pages. Rather than focusing exclusively on all the cool new features you want to add to your site this year, spend some time thinking about what you can take away. Here are four tips to help you get started.

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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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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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One of the reasons why I love this video is that it does a better job than any other material I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a LOT of material) to tell a real-world story of what a page delay feels like in our modern world and how it can throw some unpleasant friction into your day.