E-commerce Insights: Speed Up Your Site to Sell More
Speed is an often-overlooked component of Web site usability. Users perceive faster sites as more functional. Usable Web sites sell more. If a site responds quickly, users are less likely to abandon ship if they get confused. Case closed. Read on!
Best-of-class organizations, such as Google, Craigslist and Amazon.com, deliberately strive for site speed. Regardless of your size, your Web team can and should do the same.
There’s no “magic bullet” to speed up your site, however. Speed comes from implementing many simple changes. Here are four broad strategies and 24 tactics to speed up your site.
Strategy 1: Manage for Speed
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, benchmark your site against your competitors’ sites. Set a goal of being the fastest site among your competitive group within six months. Establish a site speed composite metric, such as average load times of your homepage, typical category page, typical product page and typical site search.
→ Measure the speed of a page by signing up for a Web monitoring service such as AlertSite, Webmetrics or Keynote Systems. Then, average the times from their various monitoring locations across the country.
→ Establish a site speed composite metric. Hit an average load time of up to 1.5 seconds over broadband.
→ Quarterly, shop your site using AOL or another dial-up service. Go all the way through to completed checkout, because about 30 percent of U.S. households still are using it. Fix painfully slow pages.
Strategy 2: Remove Needless Inefficiencies
What’s the greatest speed improvement you can make? Remove the need to serve it. Trim needless steps from your shopping path, and get visitors quickly to what they’re seeking.
Site search is the most frequently used navigation tool on Web sites. Save users time by getting them the right results on their first search attempt. Google significantly has raised the bar for search. So, users will expect your site search to be fast, relevant and robust. Your site search should handle typos gracefully. (Incredibly, as of April 2007, Amazon.com’s search still fails on simple typos.) Your site search should present in-stock merchandise first.