When visitors come to your web site, how fast your page loads has to matter. It’s reasonable to assume that the slower it loads, the more likely you are to loose your attention-deficit visitors as they drift on to the next shiny thing that catches their attention.
In that context, shaving seconds off of load time really matters and application performance monitoring can help you understand and attack the cause of delays.
We talk a lot about baselines on this blog, so if you want a baseline to compare your site, consider studying the research released this week by AlertSite, which is part of SmartBear Software.
AlertSite made good of use of its software by monitoring the Home pages of leading retail sites from 12 U.S. locations, every five minutes between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST between April 1 and June 30, 2011.
You can click through and a have a look at the results for yourself, but consider that the fastest retails site, Systemax, loaded in a lightening fast, 0.64 seconds or essentially instantly. The “slowest” loading site was The Gap, which according to the AlertSite measurements took a poky 7.95 seconds to load.
It’s worth noting that I tried both of these sites’ Home pages on my Mac Book Pro running Chrome and I found no discernible difference and you would think that given the huge time gap, I would have at least had a perceived delay opening The Gap’s site, and I didn’t.
Perhaps it means The Gap was monitoring its own numbers and took the necessary steps to fix the obvious load-time issue AlertSite was observing.
In terms of overall, broader trends, AlertSite had some other interesting findings:
” In Q2 2011, the average availability for the Internet Retailer Top 50 crept up slightly from 99.43 percent in Q1 to 99.67 percent, whereas their average response times improved from 3.37 seconds to 3.31 seconds.”
So what does all of this mean to you? Whatever you think of these findings, if you don’t have insight into this type of information for your web site, you absolutely should because load time matters to your visitors, and the likelihood they will stick around.
One thing is clear, APM software can give you that insight. It can help you track down loading bottlenecks. It won’t tell you how to fix the problem, but APM tools can let you see where the problems exist within your web site and that’s a crucial first step.
We all know there’s money to made on the Web, and whether your site is retail focused as the ones in the AlertSite study or not, ensuring your web site performs optimally should be a key part of any APM workflow.