3 web performance myths for Black Friday & the holiday season

Every year, Black Friday and the holiday season give online retailers an unrivaled opportunity to take in enormous sales. But a startling share of ecommerce sites don't take web performance seriously enough, putting sales at risk. Are you guilty of 1 of these 3 damaging web performance myths?

Published: 14. May 2019
Blue shopping carts against yellow background

1. We don't need to optimize performance – everyone has fast devices and fast networks

Every online retailer tests their Black Friday landing pages. But few test them on low-end mobile devices or slow networks.

It’s easy to forget that not all your customers will have the latest iPhone. Not all will have good connectivity.

If your offer page works on a desktop machine with a fast broadband connection, how will it perform on a slow, low-end Android device on a 3G network?

You can’t test everything under all conditions. But at least have a sense of what an acceptable user experience looks like on an older smartphone with limited connectivity. Exactly where that point lies is an interesting question.

It’s also something you should be able to answer with a real user monitoring solution that correlates performance with KPIs such as conversion for different user groups. Real user monitoring will also help you understand the extent of the gap between the best and the worst performance that different sets of customers see and, crucially, how it affects their behavior.

And even if you can’t eliminate that gap entirely, there are steps you can take to narrow it, for example, by minimizing reliance on JavaScript and not scaling images down to fit mobile viewports.

Black Friday web performance impact prediction dashboard & graphs from Eggplant

Real user monitoring can enable you to correlate performance metrics with business KPIs

2. It doesn't matter if we're a bit slow – people don't care if we don't have an outage

Performance testing is rightly focused on the point at which an application either goes down altogether or slows down to the point at which it becomes unusable.

But there’s a lot of ground between optimum performance and out of action. And somewhere in that ground, you’ll start losing revenue.

Research carried out in 2018 suggested that people are more frustrated by a site that’s slow and hard to use than by one that’s temporarily down. Again, use real user monitoring to work out just how much even a relatively small slowdown might cost you.

Web performance infographic 80% users say slow is more frustrating than down

3. We’re scaling up into the cloud, so we don’t need performance testing

Autoscaling is a great idea. But it doesn’t automatically solve all your potential headaches.

For one thing, it has to be configured appropriately, and performance testing will help to pick up any potential glitches. For example, we’ve seen instances where autoscaling wasn’t able to respond fast enough to a sudden spike in traffic.

The bottom line is that the faster your Black Friday pages are, the more likely they are to drive the revenue you need to make a success of the holiday season.

It’s also worth knowing that a site that’s optimized for performance is likely to be more resilient too. Fewer, smaller resources will help reduce the workload on your server. So will smart use of caching and CDNs.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that even if you do everything right, there are no guarantees, which is why a queuing solution can be invaluable. If an end user can’t immediately get to the deal they’re looking for, being held in a queue is infinitely preferable to a 500 Internal Server Error response.

In the rush to get everything ready for Black Friday, adequate testing and performance optimization can easily fall by the wayside. But if you get it right now, you can save yourself a lot of headaches further down the line – and steal a march on the competition.

Written by: Alex Painter, Director of Product Marketing, Eggplant.io