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3 Strategies for Boosting Holiday Website Speed

December 7, 2012 By Bob Buffone
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We're in the heart of the holiday shopping season and e-commerce companies still have the opportunity to make tweaks or upgrades to their websites that will help drive sales. Holiday shopping is expected to rise nearly 17 percent this season, and online retailers large and small want a competitive edge to capture as much revenue as possible.

One place where companies can find this edge is web performance. It's no secret that site speed matters to shoppers. Slower site load times lead to more bounces, fewer conversions and lower user satisfaction. Not so long ago, the bounce rate tipping point was eight seconds. Today, if shoppers have to wait much longer than two seconds to four seconds for a page to load, they start dropping (off) like flies.

This is why online retailers have their website developers and designers work overtime throughout the holiday shopping season to make sure that visitors coming to their sites have a great user experience. Whether you're a marketer in charge of ensuring that consumers have a great holiday shopping experience or a website designer tasked with putting the final touches on a holiday e-commerce site, here are three tips to keep in mind for boosting site speed:

1. Images: The size of the average web page has ballooned since 2003, growing from 94KB to 679KB.  Since images are generally the largest assets of a website, they present the greatest opportunity for optimization. 

We all know that e-commerce sites need great looking pictures — and lots of them. But crystal-clear images don't have to come with big file sizes. There are many ways to compress images without reducing quality, and numerous tools for doing so (e.g., Yahoo's Smush.it).

There are more technical image weight management techniques worth looking into, such as using sprites to combine images as well as inlining small images as data URIs. A quick Google search will get you started with this.

2. CSS: Many e-commerce sites today are driven by CSS, which can contribute to heavy and slow web pages. A good place to start with CSS is combining several CSS files into one. This can literally mean copying the text of a file, pasting it onto the end of another file of the same type and renaming the script so that you remember where the file resides. This achieves two goals: one, it simplifies the CSS code and two, it turns three separate loads into one single load.

 

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