The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Web performance is everyone’s problem: why it matters and how to help fix it — August 28, 2015

Web performance is everyone’s problem: why it matters and how to help fix it

Not long ago, websites were usually simple affairs. Some text, a few images, a little interaction, the odd form and some quick audio or video. Over the last five years, however, even the simplest site has become bigger. A lot bigger. According to the HTTP Archive, which has been tracking this sort of thing for half a decade or more, the average ‘page’ at a major website is now heading towards 2MB. And well-known websites can have pages weighing in as much as 14MB in size.

As a bit of background, page load performance isn’t just about how many bytes a browser needs to download, it’s also about how many individual files go into making up that page. As the typical high profile website approaches 200 individual files, this has become a particularly costly problem over even the shiniest 4G mobile network. 

More than a developer’s dilemma

While there are things that developers and DevOps professionals are doing to tackle page load times, this problem is more than a developer’s dilemma. Reason being that it’s often the strategic and design decisions as team makes that contribute to increased load time.

Think of it like this: just as building new roads increases the amount of traffic on them (ironically increasing overall trip times), increased network performance has encouraged bigger, slower sites.

Why is this a problem? In addition to providing a poor user experience on any large site, research shows that slow page load can be incredibly costly for retailers. Walmart, for instance, has seen the impact of a page that loads a second slower at 2% of their total e-commerce sales. Additionally, other e-tailers have measured and reported far worse outcomes. With these learnings, we’ve proven that even the slightest page load increase can contribute to a noticeable decrease in earnings, along with other key engagement metrics.

However, there’s a surprising upside to such great losses. A company’s ability to decrease page load time not only offers a very competitive advantage, but isn’t as difficult to execute as one may think.

You are part of the solution

To begin solving today’s page load problem, we need to first stop ignoring our role as designers and decision makers. We must make a mental shift to begin seeing performance as everyone’s problem. 

As a new rule, remember that every single image, font and font weight will incur a performance cost. Social media buttons can add 10 seconds or more per page load. Third party ads, analytics, and user trackers will also incur considerable costs, depending on how they’re implemented. 

Moving forward, take a few extra minutes to choose the right format and optimize images before handing them in. Make it a point to help your developers to the best of your ability. Invest in learning about what different aspects of a web page cost in terms of performance. Talk with members of the Development and DevOps teams to decide what’s necessary and what’s extraneous. Together, be mindful of all costs.

Website performance is one area where there are clear, measurable returns on investment, and where most sites really aren’t yet paying enough attention. But that will change — so you can get onboard now and get ahead of your competitors, or wait and play catch up.

Recommended reading

  • While more for designers and developers, Etsy’s Lara Hogan has literally written the book on designing for performance.
  • The performance team at Etsy also brought together some thoughts on performance for that company, with some good rules of thumb.
  • Some real world numbers to convince your client, team or boss about the real cost of website performance that focuses on the bigger picture.

About our writer // John Allsopp, co-founder of the Web Directions conferences, is widely recognized as the originator of the concepts behind Responsive Web Design, and his ideas helped form the foundations for Typekit. Find him on Twitter @johnallsopp.

Hello Fleur – our new Sydney curator — October 5, 2013

Hello Fleur – our new Sydney curator

fleur

“When you hear how other people think about things you discover new ways of solving problems. You never know how you might be able to apply that thinking to your own world/industry.”

I’m very excited to announce Fleur Fletcher as the new curator in our major city of Sydney. With that name, she was born for The Fetch! Fleur has been a long-time subscriber and has previously been involved in our City Ambassador Program for over a year so it’s great to have her step-up to our curatorial team. Fleur has a background in publishing, startups and marketing – and knows Sydney very well. Welcome Fleur!

Thanks also to our beloved outgoing curator Hannah DeMilta for an amazing two years in Sydney – you completely rocked it and have been a pleasure to collaborate with!

How did you end up where you are today? 

After starting in print publishing, I moved online to edit an online magazine. The marketing side also intrigued me, so interned at an agency to get some experience. By chance I heard about an entrepreneurial boot camp, and thankfully I had flexibility at the time to give it a go. There I met the guys from Pollenizer. I loved what they were doing, and I ended up working there for three years as a customer development manager. I’m now the Acquisition and Retention Manager at 12wbt.com.

Why did you want to get involved with The Fetch? 

I’m am forever sending friends and family articles that I think they will be interested in. The Fetch is one of my favourite resources, and being a Curator means I’ll get the same thrill of finding an awesome article/event/job for someone, but on a community scale (it will also give my family and friends a break for a while!). I also love hearing about and sharing other people’s cool stories – there’s so much to learn from the way others go about their business. I can’t wait to meet lots of people and hear what they’re up to!

What things excite you about our community right now? 

There are so many people with big dreams. It’s so exciting that people feel they are in charge and have the power to create the life they want.

What events do you recommend in Sydney?

There are so many types of events going on in Sydney. I recommend getting to as many types as possible. When you hear how other people think about things you discover new ways of solving problems. You never know how you might be able to apply that thinking to your own world/industry.

I always keep an eye out on The Opera House to see what talks they have going on. Creative MorningsWeb Directions, and Ignite. I look for anything around service design, and Brainmates also do good events. Because I’m interested in food and sustainability, I keep in touch with those areas through Feather and Bone and Real Food Projects.

What’s your favourite thing about your city? 

The food, the ocean and the space.

What’s unique about Sydney?

Sydney is a great combination of fast and slow. It can be as wild and fun, or as chilled and relaxed as you want it to be.

Where can we find you in Sydney? 

You’ll find me working in Surry Hills, cooking in my kitchen, swimming up at the northern beaches or breathing in the fresh air in the Blue Mountains.

How can we connect with you?

Connect through pictures on Instagram via @fleur29, or in text on Twitter via @fleurfletcher!

If you didn’t live in Sydney, where would you be? 

Copenhagen or California. Or anywhere close to the ocean, the snow and good local food.

You can also follow Fleur and The Fetch Sydney via @thefetchSYD and on Facebook. Sign-up to receive our events-packed digest via theFetch.com and get your work life covered!

Thanks To This Week’s Advertisers — April 26, 2013

Thanks To This Week’s Advertisers

Let’s hear it for this week’s advertisers:

  • Anchor. Providing a unique hosting solution. They manage the entire application stack taking responsibility for everything between the operating system and your code. Think of them as your own team of systems administrators.
  • bwired, presenting a (free!) Google Analytics and Adwords seminar in Prahran, VIC on May 8. Key focus is maximising return on your investment. Presented by Head of Services and Google Adwords Professional Jason Healey. Bring your questions! Register here.
  • ExactTarget, bringing the 2013 ExactTarget CONNECT Global Tour to Sydney on May 15.
  • Loves Data, presenting the Google Analytics User Conference in Sydney on June 19, and Melbourne on June 21.
  • Mindful In May. Sharpen your focus and change the world. Sign up and donate to the global meditation challenge bringing clean water to the developing world. Over 1000 people will be meditating this May. Clear mind for you, Clean water for others. Events in Melbourne and Sydney HERE.
  • Pause Fest Perth. Curiosity ignites progress. Register for this (free!) event for April 26-28.
  • Web Directions. Developers, developers, developers: JavaScript, HTML5, CSS. Learn directly from the most original experts in the field. Explore and share with your peers at this two day “Code Festival”. Use FETCHBRISBANE to take $100 off.

Interested in advertising on The Fetch? Check out the options here. If you’d like more details or would simply like to chat about how we can assist you, please email advertise@thefetch.com.

Out and about in Spring: The Fetch — November 5, 2012

Out and about in Spring: The Fetch

We’ve had a great couple of months in our Australian cities and I just wanted to share some of the out and about snaps with you. It always good to put some faces to the avatars! Apologies in advance for the filtered-to-extreme photography – many of the images are via Instagram or Path, and it’s just a sign of the rose-coloured-glasses-world we’re in today.

Photos appear in order of most recent first…

The Fetch Melbourne Conversation Dinner on Content Marketing and Strategy at Trunk Town, Oct 31 2012

The Fetch Melbourne Conversation Dinner on Content Marketing and Strategy at Trunk Town, Oct 31 2012

Kate sharing lessons from the journey at Creative Mornings Melbourne, Oct 26 2012

Kate sharing lessons from the journey at Creative Mornings Melbourne, Oct 26 2012

Chris Lloyd from Minefold, Kate, Peter Bradd from Fishburners coworking space, Mick Liubinskas from Pollenizer and Leni Mayo from 99designs and the SitePoint Group discussing the Australian Startup Scene at Web Directions, Oct 18 2012


Chris Lloyd from Minefold, Kate, Peter Bradd from Fishburners coworking space, Mick Liubinskas from Pollenizer and Leni Mayo from 99designs and the SitePoint Group discussing the Australian Startup Scene at Web Directions, Oct 18 2012

The Fetch Sydney Conversation Dinner on Quantified Self at Barrio Chino, Oct 10 2012

Hannah DeMilta (Sydney curator) and Kate at The Fetch Sydney Conversation Dinner on Quantified Self at Barrio Chino, Oct 10 2012

Hannah DeMilta (Sydney curator) and Kate with Nancy Georges speaking at Social Media Women in Sydney, Oct 9 2012

The Fetch Melbourne Conversation Dinner on Quantified Self at Trunk Town, Sept 19 2012

The Fetch Sydney Ambassador Dinner on Quantified Self at Monkey Mya, Sept 12 2012

The Fetch Brisbane Ambassador Breakfast led by Rebekah Waite (and featuring previous Brisbane curator Lani Pauli), Sept 2012

Event Review: Web Directions 2012 — October 29, 2012

Event Review: Web Directions 2012

Just over a week ago Lauren Anderson attended Web Directions 2012 in Sydney. Here’s some of her take-aways:

There is nothing like being reminded that you are, in fact, a cyborg. The smartphones and other devices we carry with us everyday are basically extensions of our brains, or so believes Ben Hammersley, UK Wired Editor-At-Large and Ambassador to the UK Government’s Tech City. Closing the first day of this year’s Web Directions South conference, Hammersley explained that the small devices we carry with us everyday, and which we are panicked to be without, are in fact like mental external hard-drives which not only recall information, but point us in the direction of things we didn’t even know, and have the omniscient power to do things like order a taxi with one click or find out when the next bus is coming.

Hammersley’s message punctuated two days of presentations and panels that both took a big picture view of where the world is going with technological innovation, kicked off by Josh Clarke’s Day 1 opening keynote Beyond Mobile, as well as offering more practical insights into the diverse design and development practices shaping today’s web world; from content strategy to responsive design, web security to community management. Most notably this year was the inclusion of a conference track specifically dedicated to startups, an acknowledgment of the rapidly growing tech entrepreneur community in Sydney and around the country.
The Startup track covered the spectrum from developing an idea to seeking funding to the experience of participating in a three-month incubator program, with a line-up of seasoned entrepreneurs, from both Australia and overseas, giving an insight into their experience and offering valuable advice to early-stage startups. Highlights include a panel on business models, which explored the various revenue models that are being used to monetise great startup ideas, Derek Powazek’s candid and practical account of his personal startup journey, and the Australian Startup Scene panel, moderated by The Fetch founder Kate Kendall, and featuring some of the country’s leading startup entrepreneurs.

From the energy in the room at the Startup track sessions, it’s clear we are at a very interesting point in the maturity of the Australian startup scene. With some impressive successes behind us, and a growing number of people launching their own tech businesses, the opportunities for awareness, scale and funding are on the rise. However, a sentiment still exists that entrepreneurs need to spend time in an ecosystem like Silicon Valley or San Francisco’s Bay Area to be truly successful. While that may be beneficial for certain startups, it is clear that there is a growing community here dedicated to supporting the success of home-grown startups, which is crucial to the growth of our own entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will be great to see just how much we’ve grown when Web Directions South 2013 rolls around.

About our ambassador // Lauren is Community Director for CollaborativeConsumption.com, and has played an instrumental role in building the global collaborative consumption movement over the last two years.

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