Up until a couple of years ago, the term Web Performance Optimization (WPO) didn’t even exist. That was when Steve Souders says he coined the term in a blog post — and it stuck. Souders was discussing all things related to WPO in a video interview on O’Reilly Radar ahead of the upcoming Velocity Conference.
He says in the video interview, 12-18 months ago he coined the term because he was seeing an industry building up around this idea and it lacked a meaningful name. Souders says that WPO has a lot in common with SEO in terms of best practices and how the process is designed to drive more people to your site, and it even improves the page rank as Google now takes loading time into consideration as part of page rank. That means if your page loads slowly, you’re not just giving your visitors a lousy experience, you’re going to have a negative impact on your page’s search engine ranking.
Souders says studies have even shown that by having an optimized web sites have higher revenue. If your site is ecommerce, he says you get more business and people stay on the web site longer — and this just makes sense. If the visitor is getting a snappy experience, of course, he or she is going to stick around, but if pages are taking too long to load, the visitor (who typically has a short attention span anyway) is going to get board and leave.
We frequently cover web site problems and when a site gets overloaded, it can bring down the entire system. Obviously, if you’re not up and running, you’re losing money, but less obvious is what happens when you lose visitors by degrees because they are unhappy with the experience of being on your web site.
What’s more, Souders says WPO reduces the overall of cost of running the web site in terms of lower bandwidth, energy use and hardware requirements, because you are reducing the amount of effort required to generate the web site. This too makes sense because the faster a site loads, the fewer resources are required to make that happen.
Souders also points to the growing popularity of the Velocity Conference itself as proof that Web Optimization is a maturing industry.
If you click through to the post, what is particularly nice is the author created links to different parts of the video and indicated what Saunders was discussing, so you don’t have to watch the whole interview if only one part interests you. Have a look, it’s interesting commentary.