UK retail website speeds on the up
Written by Chris Lemmon
UK retail websites are getting faster, according to the latest figures from web performance firm NCC Group.
For the first time since the analysis began in 2013, the UK’s top 50 retail websites have got faster, with the average load time reducing from 17.46 seconds in Q2 to 16.95 seconds in Q3 – the fastest they have been this year.
It was also found that these websites were able to start displaying content slightly faster in Q3, with render start times decreasing from 2.91 seconds to 2.80 seconds. This is the fastest they have been since Q3 of 2015.
The improvements may be due in part to the increased uptake of the network protocol HTTP/2, which offers a new way to deliver content over the Internet. It was found that the adoption of HTTP/2 was up 14 per cent compared with Q2, with an additional seven retail sites out of the UK’s top 50 implementing HTTP/2 in Q3.
Despite these improvements, one metric that continues to get poorer is page size, with average page sizes increasing steadily, and from 2.39MB in Q2, to 2.44MB in Q3.
Alex Painter, senior web performance consultant at NCC Group, commented: “Although the improvement in performance is encouraging, average load time is still three seconds slower than it was two years ago. The fact that page weight continues to increase means that we should expect an overall trend towards slower web pages.
“The link between a website’s speed and KPIs such as conversion and bounce rate is now well established. Optimising for speed can sometimes slip through the cracks as retailers focus their attention on getting Black Friday campaigns live in time, but as retailers gear up for the pre-Christmas peak, many would benefit from delivering leaner, faster pages.”