Site load times & other "details".
A year or so ago I thought I’d try a new barber who had just opened up in my village. He had a great new shop, lots of boy’s mags to read and even free beer! However, he kept me waiting for thirty-five minutes without even acknowledging my presence or interrupting the fascinating conversation he was having about fishing with the client in the chair.
He didn’t even seem to notice when I left, and I haven’t been back. I am sure he cuts hair well, he certainly has a smart and up-to-date looking store, but that sort of customer experience isn’t what I expect to put up with. He failed a basic service test, at least in my eyes. He could at least have said ‘hello.’
We were recently asked to take a look at an online store which had been redeveloped by another agency. It too looked great, it had lots of fancy whistles and bells, but sadly took eight seconds to load. The developers clearly thought they’d fulfilled the customer’s brief, a great looking site, but didn’t seem to take any responsibility for such a basic performance metric as site load speed.
If you have not checked your own site's load speed recently, you can do it using online services, such as gtmetrix.com It will tell you what, if anything, is slowing it down and what you can do about it. With the site in question there was a lot that could be done, such as:
- Correctly sizing the many photographs, rather than relying on auto-sizing on download.
- Lazy loading the video on the hone page.
- Setting up a Content Delivery Network (CDN.)
- Pre-loading fonts, rather than waiting for that to happen on download.
- Upgrading the hosting.
Anyway, there were more things we did to get the site to load in under a second, but the technical details are not the point of this article: taking full responsibility, attention to detail, and the importance of a broad competence base in ecommerce is what I want you to take away from this.
One stop shop
We are a one stop shop for ecommerce, so we take a holistic approach to all the work we do for clients. This always means helping them see the underlying problems with their store, not just dealing with the symptoms. Developing a fully functional and operationally competitive solution is fundamental to that. To be fair to the site developers mentioned above, they were primarily designers and did not seem to be aware of some of the technical issues slowing the site down.
Load time is just one of several hygiene factors that need to be managed to close a sale. It seems obvious to us, that: our customers do not just want stores that look good, they also need them to work well; and that you need to make new clients feel good about the store and for them to stay long enough to buy something. Sadly, that is not always the case for some web developers, and, it seems, some barbers too.