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Images Killing Your Page Speed?

We’ve all experienced it.

You enter a site…and wait for the page to load…impatiently watching as the timer begins to spin.

3 seconds go by…still spinning. 10 seconds go by…it may load any time now.  But then…12 seconds…15 seconds. You close your browser window in frustration. Never again.

Nowadays, users expect ‘fast’ more than ever before. Slow page loads will lead to abandonment. Research reveals that “40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.” Even a mere 1 second delay can drop your conversions by 7%. Slow page loads will affect your bottom line, and your ability to be found on Google’s SERP.

In today’s world, speed matters. It matters even more than those fancy web images you use to entice your viewer and enhance UX. The problem is, those images happen to be the most common culprits that cause slow page loads for both web and mobile.

This month alone, images took up a whopping 65% of the overall weight of an average web page (as shown below), based on HTTP Archive‘s data from averaging bytes per page of Alexa Top 1,000,000 sites.

October 2016: Images = 65% of avg. page weight

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-7-40-44-pm

Images contribute 1624kB of avg. pages in October 2016.    Source: HTTP Archive

Comparison: Average Bytes per Page by Content Type, 2011-16

average bytes

Avg. bytes per page by content type, 2011-2016.          Source: HTTP Archive

Comparing the month of October 2011-2016, the use of images has risen steadily. The total size of an average web page grew 3% from an average of 830kB in 2011, to 2,509kB in 2016. What a coincidence that in the same five-year span, the average use of images increased by 3%, from 494kB in 2011, to 1,624kB in 2016. The reason for the 3x growth of an average web page in five years? Images …making “image size” a serious factor in contributing to increased page load times.

Luckily, image optimization is a thing, and you can reduce your page load time without sacrificing the quality of your images.

Some Image Optimization Tips to Reduce Your File Sizes

  • Use the correct resolution: Avoid saving a larger image if you plan to display it much smaller. For example, if your uploaded image is displayed at 800×600, saving it as 1600×1200 will only take up unnecessary space, and increase your load times.
  • Use the correct format and reduce the file size:
    • PNG: Depending on the type of image displayed, using lossless PNG is much better for web due to the lower file space. In addition, many image editing applications like Adobe Photoshop will allow you to further reduce the quality/file size by using a smaller color palette.
    • JPG: Best for photographs. If you must use JPG, you can directly reduce the quality size from “maximum” to “high” in image editing applications, allowing you to reduce your image size just enough without reducing too much quality from the original file.
    • GIF: Best only for animated images.
  • Flash: Avoid using it. Flash files are always large and can significantly slow down your site. It’s also incompatible for mobile devices.

Decreasing your image sizes is fundamental these days, but when you’re a growing company, it’s not enough. For companies with high, global traffic, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is critical to delivering a best-in-class experience for users, and has become more commonplace. In fact, 48% of the top Alexa 1000 sites in 2016, are using a CDN.

How a CDN Delivers a better UX

A CDN caches your content on geographically distributed servers—closer to your end-users, resulting in faster delivery. The benefits of using a CDN to serve your content, include:

  • Less bandwidth consumption. Offloading your servers helps decrease hosting costs.
  • Ability to handle more traffic. e.g. Scalability for ‘burst’ events, such as high-traffic launches, or seasonal promotions.
  • Gzip compression, which reduces file sizes ‘on the fly’, to optimize transfer over the Internet and save additionally on bandwidth costs.
  • Enhanced UX, which helps increase conversions and sales.
  • Increase in performance rankings on Google’s SERP.

Good news: you can get started optimizing your images and site speed today—within minutes.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our CDN experts, who can evaluate your needs and determine a custom-fit solution for you.
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Related Topics:
Automatic Gzip Compression
Push vs. Pull: What’s the Difference?
Using CDN to Improve Your SERP Ranking

PC: Pixabay

Holiday Readiness Begins Now

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching in a few months… Will your retail website and apps handle the traffic?

For retailers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be the most lucrative opportunities, yet, biggest threats of the year. Just last November, Cyber Monday surpassed $3B in online sales (up 16% from 2014)—marking the biggest online spending day in U.S. history. Despite the sales jump, high traffic volume managed to temporarily shut down retail sites for Target, Saks, ShutterFly, Footlocker, and Neiman Marcus—which happened to miss Black Friday, altogether, with a full-day extended outage.

 

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Target’s 404 page after record traffic made it crash on Cyber Monday 2015

Impact of Delays and Downtime on Retailers

What we learn from these delays and outages, is the considerable impact it has on revenue. Today’s consumer wants instant gratification. Studies show that if a retailer’s site is making $100k per day, even as little as a 1 second delay can potentially cost $2.5M in lost sales every year.

If that’s not enough, the blow is compounded by intangible costs that leave a lasting impression in the mind of your customers—and on your brand’s reputation.

Damage to Brand Reputation: Outages and delays make news headlines. Customers take to social media, such as Twitter, to express their frustration and discontent.

Competitive Advantage: If customers can’t access your site or app, they take their money elsewhere— to your competition.
Loss of Staff Productivity: IT, web operations and customer service teams are left dealing with the aftermath of having to troubleshoot and quickly resolve the issue, while customer service handles irate customers.
Loss in Marketing and Advertising Spend: Efforts spent on promotions are wasted when customers reach a retail website, app or landing page, but can’t access it.

Upgrade your infrastructure, or risk losing revenue

For retailers, uptime is mission-critical. When the busiest shopping days of the year approach, you can’t afford to lose out on the opportunity. If you have doubts to whether your retail site can withstand the growing volume of holiday traffic, the time to upgrade your infrastructure is now.

Ensure Reliability and Availability

It’s important to have a plan in place to ensure reliability and uptime. Retailers can prevent downtime by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that offers none other than a 100% availability SLA.  The difference in service levels may seem marginal, but, if a provider’s availability is 99.5%—that equates to 43 hours and 49 minutes of potential downtime, while a 99.99% SLA is 52 minutes and 35 seconds of potential downtime per year. Is that acceptable—on the busiest shopping day of the year?

While there are many CDNs out there to choose from, CacheFly CDN offers features critical for retailers during the busy holiday season:

  • Highest Availability—100% SLA: While downtime may occur, and it’s not always possible to deliver on 100% uptime, CacheFly CDN provides instant failover to automatically reroute to the nearest available servers to offer 100% availability.
  • Fastest File Throughput Performance: Independent network monitoring tests reveal that CacheFly has the fastest file throughput performance, to deliver your website and app files fast—no matter the location.
  • Infinite Scalability: Manage peak traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with ease, knowing no matter how many global requests you receive, your site and mobile apps will seamlessly scale on demand.
  • Instant Purge: If merchandise is out of stock, or the wrong pricing or item is listed, its important to remove it immediately. With instant purge, items can be removed easily, and CacheFly’s super-fast replication pushes updates to global users within seconds.
  • Gzip Compression: Most retail sites consist of lots of product images, including large hero images, which can cause slowdowns. Gzip compression reduces file sizes ‘on the fly’, to optimize transfer over the Internet and save on bandwidth costs.
  • Security: With security features such as SSL support and URL/referrer blocking, CacheFly ensures your customers confidence in purchasing from your retail website securely.

Using a CDN can help you capitalize on the busiest holiday shopping days of the year, by ensuring availability and scalability, faster delivery, and a better overall user experience to increase conversions and profits. In some cases, in can mean the difference between making the most sales of the year, versus having a complete system downtime failure. The time to prepare for it is now.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our CDN experts, who can evaluate your needs and determine a custom-fit solution for you.
Request Free Assessment >

Related Topics:
Measuring Throughput Performance: DNS vs. TCP Anycast
Is Your Site Ready for the Busiest Cyber Monday?
Cloud Benchmarking Provider Finds CacheFly Leads in Global Throughput
Application Downtime: A Critical Concern for SaaS and Web App Providers

Using a CDN to Improve Your SEO Ranking

People hate to wait.

Almost half of web visitors will abandon a web page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. When you fail to deliver your site fast enough, you will lose visitors (and conversions)—and Google thinks you should too.

In 2010, Google began using Site Speed (how quickly a website responds to web requests) as one of 200 factors that determine search rankings. If your page load speed is too slow, it can hinder your site’s ability to be found on Google’s SERP. While the impact of site speed on SERP rankings only affects fewer than 1% of search queries, Google’s acknowledgement of speed—as a critical factor—speaks volumes. Google constantly adjusts its algorithms to provide Google users with the best possible user experience—so it makes sense that a site’s speed can affect its SERP position on Google.

How Fast Should My Avg. Page Load Speed Be?

Maile Ohye of Google says, “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

How Google Measures Site Speed

When measuring page load speed, Google considers the following:

  • Time to First Byte (TTFB): The time it takes from from initial request to the first byte of data it returns, and
  • Critical Render Path: When all files ‘above the fold’ are fully rendered.
page-speed

Google PageSpeed Insights evaluates a site’s desktop and mobile page speed and provides recommendations to optimize performance.

How Do I Optimize My Page Load Speed?

  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN caches your website files (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, images, videos, etc.) onto geographically distributed servers, to serve it physically closer to your end users—resulting in faster delivery.

However, not all CDNs are built the same. If you choose a CDN provider known for outages, you wind up with downtime, which is obviously not only bad for your users—but, also your SEO—since search bots are unable to crawl your site. You must choose a CDN that can offer 100% uptime.

In addition to offering a 100% uptime SLA, CacheFly CDN provides you with:

  • Fastest file throughput delivery—which reduces TTFB, thereby decreasing your average page load speed.
  • Global POP coverage, distributed in six continents—to deliver your site closer and faster to your users.
  • Automatic gzip compression, to compress your image files on the fly—optimizing delivery and reducing bandwidth costs.
  • Infinite scalability to scale on demand to traffic bursts—eliminating the risk of crashes and timeouts.
  • Security, including: Token-based auth, and URL/referrer blocking, and origin shield.

What you get is a faster loading site and the highest availability, which will help increase your SERP ranking and more importantly—provide your users a better experience.

Don’t let slow load times affect your SERP ranking. Start optimizing your site speed today. Contact us to schedule an appointment with our CDN experts, who can evaluate your needs and determine a custom-fit solution for you.
Request Free Assessment >

5 Ways Ars Technica Combats the Threat of Website Latency

Since its start in 1998, Ars Technica has grown to become one of the largest tech news sites, serving an average of 60 billion pages per month. According to Ars’ Director of Technology, Jason Marlin, “We are one of the largest, busiest websites in tech news—not just because of the writing, but because Ars loads very fast.”

The sentiment is true. Readers expect pages to load fast. In fact, 40% of people will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

How does Ars Technica do it?

Here are 5 ways Ars gives their readers nothing but the FASTEST delivery, using CacheFly CDN.

1. Highest Global Throughput Delivery

“We have a lot of tech sites ask us, ‘how do you get your site to load so fast?’,” said Marlin.In the U.S., our average response is 400 ms (page loads) for users who have cached most of the pages.”  Just as most sites use CDNs, Ars uses CacheFly to replicate its website files (JavaScript, CSS, images, and videos, etc.) onto the CDN’s globally distributed network of servers, for closer (and faster) delivery to readers. However, using CacheFly’s proven highest global throughput delivery, Ars is able to give readers comparably FASTER delivery than with any other CDN.

2. Infinite Scalability for Surges in Traffic

With CacheFly’s infinitely scalable bandwidth, Ars Technica delivers its website fast—no matter what kind of surges in traffic. Marlin notes, “Now we’re seeing around 60 million page views, and sometimes we have spike events, e.g. announcing the latest Apple iPhone. Those types of spike events will sometimes generate 15-16M page views. Without a CDN, a big announcement like that would completely shut us down. With CacheFly, you don’t even see an issue. The CDN just absorbs it, while all other websites in the same scenario are struggling to stay up. Customers commend us on that.”

3. Fetch Content Using Reverse Proxy

Instead of taking endless amounts of time to manually upload lots of small files, Ars uses Reverse Proxy as an upload method, allowing CacheFly to automatically fetch non-cached objects—simply by leaving the content on Ars’ origin and rewriting the URL to point to CacheFly. When asked about their use of Reverse Proxy, Marlin responded, “We were amazed by how well it worked when deployed. Reverse Proxy has made our deployment process so fast and has reduced the complexity of our deployment. The bonus is that this method requires no work from us in terms of syncing assets—we simply make sure files are available on our servers and reference them from the CacheFly CDN URL—the rest is magic!”

4. Replicate Updates Super-Fast

Some CDNs can take up to 24 hours to apply updates, which can be problematic—especially for news sites, which often make frequent updates, and base their reputation and credibility on relevancy and accuracy. However, when Ars makes an update to its website, those updates are applied to all replicated versions on CacheFly’s servers—within SECONDS—ensuring readers always receive the latest version of Ars Technica—SUPER FAST.

5. Automatic Compression of Files

Ars further speeds up delivery to readers, using CacheFly’s Gzip Compression—which compresses files to optimize transfer via the Internet. In addition, Gzip compression helps to decrease bandwidth costs by using less data to transfer over the wire.

Jason Marlin Ars Technica Website Performance

“CacheFly has exceeded our expectations on every level—from the technical operation of the actual service, to the top-notch support staff and their responsiveness…Overall, we’re very happy.”

-Jason Marlin, Director of Technology, Ars Technica

 

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Is Your Site Ready for the Busiest Ever Cyber Monday?

This year, Cyber Monday U.S. sales are expected to hit a record $3 billion. The National Retail Federation states that 183.8 million people (80% of holiday shoppers) are projected to shop.

If the forecast is accurate, Cyber Monday 2015 will mark the BIGGEST day in history for online sales.

Overall, holiday shopping online is seeing a good uptick. According to Adobe Digital Index, online Black Friday sales will increase 15% to 2.7 billion. Collectively, online holiday sales will total $83 billion from November and December.

Will your site scale—on the most critical day of the year?

If not, you could stand to lose out on significant revenue. Since it’s debut in 2005, Cyber Monday has been notorious for having some of the worst service failures for shoppers, as dozens of major retailers experienced downtime—due to overwhelming global traffic.

Some of the major retail sites that crashed—with more than 10 minutes of downtime, include: PC Mall, 128 minutes (2011); Best Buy, 90 minutes (2014); Toys R’ Us, 32 minutes (2011); Newegg, 60 minutes (2011); and Nordstrom, 12 minutes (2011).

Best Buy's 404 Page (Cyber Monday 2014)

Best Buy’s 404 Page (Cyber Monday 2014)

Although many of these sites had more than 90% availability, such an outage on the most high-traffic shopping day of the year can result in hundreds of thousands, to even millions of dollars in revenue loss. According to Kissmetrics: “If an eCommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page load delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.”

What are the impacts of Cyber Monday outages?

Direct sales loss.
An outage is synonymous to your doors being closed. Your customers can’t ‘check-out’ and purchase.
The loss can be determined by:

Direct Sales Loss = Avg. Hourly Sales Volume x (outage duration + avg. purchase session length)

Lost sales to competitors.
When your doors are closed—and since most items you sell can often be found on your competitor’s site anyway, they wind up going to your competition. Every second a customer spends waiting for your page to load is an opportunity to lose them to faster competition. And, on Cyber Monday, you can expect a market chock-full of competition. In fact, 72% of frustrated customers will abandon your site for a competitor’s.

The loss can be quantified by:
Avg. Hourly Visitors x Conversion Rate x Average Sale x (outage duration in + avg. visit length)

Loss of customer loyalty.
An ecommerce Cyber Monday report conducted by Ponemon, found that disgruntled shoppers who were unable to make a purchase—and decided not to return—caused an estimated brand damage of $3.4 million (for average retailers). Kissmetrics states that “79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from that same site again.”

Negative brand equity.
If a major retailer experiences downtime during Cyber Monday, chances are, you’ll hear about it via social media. According to research, 44% of online shoppers are likely to tell others about a bad online experience.

Operational costs.
Outages cause your customer support, marketing and sales teams to respond to complaints, while IT must work to restore systems.  The overall operational cost of customers support alone, can be estimated by: Increase in ticket volume x avg. ticket response cost

What can you do about it?

Online holiday shoppers expect fast performance. With all the planning that takes place to prepare for the holidays, it’s critical to ensure you have the right infrastructure to handle spikes in traffic. Before this holiday season passes, take the following steps to analyze your performance:

  • Monitor and audit your bandwidth capacity throughout the season, and understand your infrastructure weaknesses.
  • Conduct tests using Real-User Monitoring (RUM), which enables you to collect data about your site performance as experienced by actual users.
  • Develop a formal plan: Partner with CacheFly Content Delivery Network (CDN) in 2016.

In our Cyber-Monday post-mortem post, we’ll provide you with guided steps to ensure the fastest delivery in 2016.

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