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Why your media website should be optimized for the mobile web

Which device do you turn to when news breaks? Forty-five percent of U.S. adults use their smartphones to get most of their news, according to The Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2012 report. But when news breaks and readers can’t access the site after waiting for what seems like hours (but is probably only seconds), they leave.

The need for speed is perhaps nowhere as prominent in today’s go-go-go world as on mobile devices. For news organizations, a fast mobile web experience is not only important to your readers, but also to the advertisers paying big money to reach your mobile audience. And if they can’t do that because of poor site performance, they will put their money on a mobile site where they can.

That’s the point writer Amy Gahran makes in her article, “Why the mobile web is slow, and your mobile site must be FAST!

A MOBILE MINUTE: Your mobile site should be just as fast and functional as any e-commerce site

In it, she cites a recent Bloomberg article by Olga Kharif that reported that “twice as many mobile-phone users abandon a website for reasons such as sluggishness than their desktop counterparts” (according to Forrester Research), and “almost half of mobile users are unlikely to return to a website at all if they had trouble accessing it from their phone” (according to Equation Research).

According to Kharif, a typical mobile webpage takes 9.2 seconds to load in the U.S., meaning organizations have a lot of work to do if they want to keep the attention and business of their customers.

I wanted to share this article because it re-emphasizes the need to test, tune, and optimize your mobile applications to leverage the latest technological advancements that will help alleviate the constant challenges your mobile users are experiencing. As the article points out, mobile users are at the mercy of network coverage, device malfunctions, bad locations, and other uncontrollable factors. Website design doesn’t have to be another uncontrollable factor.

While e-commerce websites are probably the most well-publicized culprits (and victims) of this web performance snafu, they’re not the only kind of web property that needs to be cognizant of website speed and its effect on the end-user experience. Every website, particularly those designed to provide real-time news and current events, should be built with mobility and the restrictions imposed by mobile devices in mind. Consumers of news, social networking, and other content-driven websites have just the same expectation of performance as their retail counterparts.

As the onslaught of mobile usage continues, there will be an increased demand for an experience similar or better than that of a traditional computer browser over broadband. Improved performance and usability over competitors are becoming the keys to customer loyalty.

Make sure to head over to Knight Digital Media Center to read Gahran’s full article.

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