Speed


Does Speed Matter?

Does website speed really matter? According to some giant companies, it can significantly impact your bottom line. Giants like Amazon, Walmart, Google, eBay, Yahoo, AOL, Shopzilla, and Mozilla  decided to overhaul their websites to decrease their page load times to find out just how much it impacted their sales, page views, downloads, etc.

 

Speed Improvements

Source: Strangeloopnetworks

  • Walmart noted that for every 1 second of improvement, they experienced 2% increase in conversions. For every 100ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by 1%.
  • Amazon also experienced the same 1% in increased revenue for every 100ms of improvement. On the flip side, a 1 second loss for Amazon is about $1.6 billion in sales a year.
  • Shopzilla sped up their average page load time from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds and increased revenue by 12% and page views by 25%.
  • Firefox reduced their average load time by 2.2 seconds and increased downloads by 15.4% or 60 million more downloads a year.
  • Google showed that slowing their search results by 400 milliseconds reduced the number of searches by 8,000,000 per day.
  • Yahoo! increased traffic by 9% for every 400 milliseconds of improvement.

So how did they increase their page performance? I wish I could tell you that they just clicked a few boxes and their site magically improved. The truth is, it’s a very complex process to tune a website to get the best performance gains and something you should leave up to a professional. Many professionals will charge you a one time fee for optimization or through a monthly maintenance agreement, which is what we recommend. Things are always changing and it’s easy to get behind the curve if you’re trying to do everything yourself. If you’re interested in a maintenance agreement for WordPress, one of our resellers, SMD, does an excellent job at keeping WordPress sites running efficiently.
 

We decided to put a few simple optimization changes to the test to see how much each one improved the site’s performance. Two of the most beneficial changes that can be done to a WordPress site is to add a cache plugin and use CloudFlare Pro, a content delivery network (CDN). Here are the results:

 

WordPress without WP Super Cache or CloudFlare Pro – Baseline

No Optimization

 

WordPress with WP Super Cache’s recommended settings – 1.01s Improvement

Cached

 

WordPress with WP Super Cache’s recommended settings and CloudFlare Pro – 1.476s Improvement

Optimized

 

Our test clearly showed that both a cache plugin and a CDN significantly improved the site’s load time. Interesting to note, the CDN reduced the page size. This is due to how images are cached and optimized. In case your wondering, these results are relatively slower than they should be. This is where hiring a professional to optimize your site comes in. The theme used on this site has a lot of javascripts running each time the page loads which has a major impact on the load time. On a more optimized site, we’ve achieved a 409ms load time for a size of 2.2MB without CloudFlare Pro, which showed to be faster than 98% of all tested websites!
 

What the test doesn’t show, is on the back end, server resources were drastically reduced at each stage of optimization. On average, these two improvements can reduce a site’s resource usage by up to 90%! The less resources a website uses per visitor, the more visitors a site can handle. You might be wondering, could I add CloudFlare and reduce my package? Typically, our answer here is no. CloudFlare can’t replace an existing package, only enhance it. There are many factors that go into the need for a certain package and the higher the package, the more resources available. You could actually slow down your site by adding CloudFlare and reducing the package your site is on.

Here’s an example of a website before and after CloudFlare Pro. We switched her over on the 29th of the month and as you can see, her bandwidth usage stayed lower through the next month. This is a significant savings of about 88% and if we were to calculate overages before switching her to CloudFlare Pro, it could have resulted in hundreds of dollars.

Day 29 CF Pro Switch           First Month on CF Pro

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