Oversized home pages on retail websites could spell Black Friday disaster, says NCC Group

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The UK’s top retailers could be storing up trouble for Black Friday and risking their customers going elsewhere by delivering oversized home pages, according to new insight from global information assurance specialist NCC Group.
Analysis of the UK’s top 50 retail sites revealed that the average home page size has increased in every quarter in 2015, from 1.77MB in Q1 to 2.02MB in Q3. This is likely to be one reason why total load time also slowed, going up from an average of 11.43 seconds in Q1 to 13.93 seconds in Q3 (measured at 2Mbps). This is far in excess of the recommended standard of 3 seconds and therefore may deter customers from using the site.
This analysis also found that a number of sites were increasingly bloated by very large images, often in the form of banner ads. According to Ben Daniel, head of the professional services team at NCC Group’s Web Performance division, this should ring alarm bells for retailers as they head into the busy pre-Christmas period:

 

“Retailers should be looking at creating lighter web pages as Black Friday approaches, protecting both their revenue and their brand by delivering a better experience for their customers. One way to minimise page weight is to ensure that banner ad images are optimised for the web. Alternatively, it’s often possible to create such ads without resorting to imagery at all, just by using cleverly styled HTML. As well as bringing down page size, ads created in this way are likely to be displayed earlier than images. This kind of approach, combined with load testing and capacity planning, can go a long way towards mitigating the risk that things will go wrong on the big day.”

The UK’s top retailers could be storing up trouble for Black Friday and risking their customers going elsewhere by delivering oversized home pages, according to new insight from global information assurance specialist NCC Group.

Analysis of the UK’s top 50 retail sites revealed that the average home page size has increased in every quarter in 2015, from 1.77MB in Q1 to 2.02MB in Q3. This is likely to be one reason why total load time also slowed, going up from an average of 11.43 seconds in Q1 to 13.93 seconds in Q3 (measured at 2Mbps). This is far in excess of the recommended standard of 3 seconds and therefore may deter customers from using the site.

This analysis also found that a number of sites were increasingly bloated by very large images, often in the form of banner ads. According to Ben Daniel, head of the professional services team at NCC Group’s Web Performance division, this should ring alarm bells for retailers as they head into the busy pre-Christmas period:

“Retailers often find themselves incredibly hard-pressed as they prepare their Black Friday promotions. They manage to produce beautifully designed and carefully crafted ads, but all too often forget the critical step of ensuring these images are optimised for the web.”

The result can be that websites slow down at the worst possible time, driving customers away. The problem is exacerbated when retail sites are already under tremendous pressure thanks to increased traffic on and around Black Friday.

Daniel continued: “By increasing the size of your home page at your busiest time of year, you’re not only going to slow the page down and put customers off – you’re also increasing the chances that your site will go down altogether. It’s a bit like blocking the entrance to your high street store with a big ‘sale’ sign: you’re attracting more customers and, at the same time, making it harder for them to buy your products and services.