Two weeks ago, a large number of eCommerce professionals converged in Chicago for IRCE 2013. I was one of the presenters to talk about "Building m-commerce: Different approaches, different outcomes."
There were plenty of instances throughout the conference where the growing mobile traffic and revenue numbers highlighted the importance of delivering fast, quality mobile experiences to consumers. As most of us know - fast, quality mobile experiences are better for business.
Yet as most of us also know, delivering fast, quality mobile experiences isn't exactly easy. The challenges associated with mobile performance are well documented (browsers, network, devices, etc.). For those who are interested in diving a little deeper into the topic, I recommend watching Ilya Grigorik's Google I/O talk - Mobile Performance from the Radio Up: Battery, Latency and Bandwidth Optimization.
The fact remains shoppers expect fast, quality mobile Web and app experiences and they generally don't know or care about the technological challenges associated with delivering them. In addition, as we start to think about the latest techniques to engage mobile users such as Responsive Web Design (RWD) these challenges become even greater. Responsive Web Design is a Web development approach that suggests Web pages should respond to the context in which they're loaded (primarily screen size) and change their user interface accordingly.
So what does delivering large, complex pages to mobile devices mean from an end-user's perspective? Below is a snapshot of the experience of an end-user visiting a US retailer's RWD site's home page on a variety of different devices/networks. The conclusion is obvious. The delivery of a relatively small 700KB site to a mobile device, over wireless networks, has resulted in serious performance shortcomings.
The first step to deliver fast, quality RWD sites is to focus on the actual page and the associated objects delivered to the end-user. As Web performance optimization guru Steve Souder likes to point out: "80-90 percent of end-user response time is spent on the frontend. Start there."
- Reducing the number of requests
- Reducing the number of bytes
- Accelerating rendering
For a more detailed view of how to actually reduce the number of requests & bytes and accelerate rendering download Akamai's Front-End Optimization primer.
Independent of your approach to engaging mobile users, it is always worth to remember the following:
- Deliver consistent, fast, quality web and application experience
- Adopt your customers' perspective
- Optimize for mobile first