Mic-Dropping the Case for Site Speed

Roy Hodges / 11th June 2019 / Comment

Are you a marketing team working for a company that caters to consumers? Are you trying to make the case for site speed work but struggling to get traction? Metrics are great, but they sometimes meet the resistance of, “does that case study from Google about a 20% impact to mobile conversions per second delay apply to us?”. Each business is different and taking rough numbers from Google’s research is a good start, but often not enough to push a compelling case over the edge. Sometimes even with the best quantitative data, it becomes difficult to make a great case compelling to your executives and board.

Wheelhouse DMG has been fortunate to attend several Google Hackathons with Google’s own Ryan Warrender, who recently shared this useful tip with attendees:

The best way to gain traction on Site Speed is to show your team what your site looks like for the majority of your users.

So, let’s take a look! Here’s a rinse and repeat process for putting the final touch on your case for Site Speed investment.

  1. Review Device Breakdown
  2. Review User Geographic Makeup
  3. Demo Average Network Speeds
  4. Record and Show a Video of You vs. Peers

1. Review Device Breakdown

To review your device breakdown into Google Analytics: go to Audience > Mobile > Overview. Look for each device category – if you are seeing a mobile device category of significance, there’s no doubt that site speed is important for you. If you already have a slow site, it’s possible you might have more mobile users than appear in GA due to delays in analytics. It is possible to tell how effective your analytics collection is with a slower site speed, but you may need to enlist help from someone with a specialty in analytics. Note the breakdown of percent of traffic!

review device breakdown in Google Analytics

2. Review User Geographic Makeup

To review geography, go to Audience > Geo > Location. Knowing where your users are accessing the site from helps assess impacts of connectivity constraints (wireless communications congestion, wireless interference, rural lack of connectivity etc.). These maps in Google Analytics can help assess a users location. Note where most users are connecting from. This data is useful if you see a gap in traffic in certain regions where you’d expect traffic.

review user geographic makeup review user geographic makeup

3. Emulate Average Network Speeds

Now, let’s emulate the average mobile user experience, rather than your fast connectivity from your office or home.

1. Right-click your webpage and click Inspect — this new panel is going to be complex, but don’t worry about it, we’re only in here for a few items!

2. Click the Network tab — more complex stuff. Stay with me, it’s worth it.

3. Look for the drop-down with “No throttling”. Click and select Fast 3G. This emulates a Fast 3G internet connection with occasional dropouts.

4. Now the fun part. Hold down the Refresh Button, and select Empty Cache and Hard Reload. This forces your browser to empty its caches and load all the data your page requires to load. This is a good emulation of what new users see on your site. In reality, a few scripts might be cached from other servers, but that’s okay. We are just trying to capture as close to a real experience as possible.

Watch your page loading the way mobile devices load. If the page loads in about four seconds or more, then you’ll satisfy users from 2006. Back in 2009, it was reported that 40% of users waited no more than four seconds! But shoppers in 2019 expect no more than 2 seconds wait.

It’s time to give a demo of your site with Fast 3G emulated and require your developers to run this emulation to look out for user experience. Ask yourselves and your team… Would you wait for this? Would your users? Would your audience?

4. Record and Show a Video of You vs. Peers

Make your case to your executives or board with a video which you can embed in a PowerPoint presentation. We use a trusty website called http://webpagetest.org/ for this purpose. In fact, you can use this to compare your site to your competitors! Be sure to close the Inspector first.

1. Navigate to http://webpagetest.org/

2. Click on the Visual Comparison tab

3. Enter a Label and URL for your site’s page to test

4. Enter Labels and URLs for competitor or reference sites to test

5. Set Test Configuration to Mobile – Regular 3G

6. Click Start Test and wait

7. Once the test(s) are complete, a video will be offered. A link will also be available for downloading the video or embedding into a page. Click Create Video and use this video download for your PowerPoint presentation to get the Mic Drop you are looking for.

Conclusion

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and now you’ll have a video which will speak volumes for your users. Use the video content wisely and refrain from weaponizing the data. You won’t need to get fancy, the material speaks for itself. Simply play it on a blank slide… and ask the room, “Is this what our users want?”

Then be prepared to offer a solution to this issue. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “I’d like to get one of our engineers on this for a week straight, no interruptions, and give this the attention it deserves.” Your engineers will thank you, and your users will show their appreciation through increased conversions, increased retention, and increased revenue.

And remember that you’re not the only one working on site speed. Investing a little on this issue might just keep your head above water like everyone else. Consider going a little deeper, then check your results, and possibly dive again.

Want to Learn More About Your Site Speed?

If you would like some assistance looking at your site speed, triaging issues, and helping to make the case for investment, give us a shout!

By Roy Hodges