Well, Grokkers, the Holiday Season is officially upon us–Happy Black Friday! Most of FutureNow’s good advice about optimizing for the Holidays has already been given, and hopefully you’ve been busy acting on it. Many merchants are about to lock their sites down so no major code changes will put their Holiday transactions at risk.
[Note: I was curious about how the big industry players were doing in terms of performance, so I started hitting them from my lousy WiFi connection. The un-scientific results are sprinkled throughout this post, and they aren't all that surprising ]
So, if the goal is to for your site to be flooded with qualified, motivated buyers all through the Holiday Season, has your site been optimized for that flood of traffic? Performance testing is a good start, but that can only tell you how fast code loads, http response times, etc.
The more important thing is what the customer experience is like when your B2C site is under heavy traffic loads:
I like to think the same concept should be applied to sites that are under heavy traffic stress. If every GrokDotCom.com reader decided to hit your site within the same 10-minute period, would your site ‘degrade gracefully,’ or would it be completely un-usable? Go try shopping on your site on a dial-up connection. Of course, it’s going to be frustrating, but do the important things load first? Can you at least navigate/browse/search while you’re waiting for pages to fully load?
Site performance optimization is definitely not FutureNow’s area of expertise, but these screenshots are a good reminder that all the fancy conversion rate optimization in the world won’t help if your site takes too long to load, or won’t load at all (ahem…Bing.com shopping site!). Remember that “Functional” is the base of the Hierarchy of Optimization!