Sometimes, to get real-world usage statistics, we change the sample rate of the page speed collection data from Google Analytics. We remove the synthetic benchmarks and collect all of our users' performance data. However, since Google Analytics performance metrics are a bit lackluster, we prefer a combination.
As stated at the start of this article, optimizing perceived performance using the RAIL framework can help get the discussion going and make sure performance and its many metrics become parameters that we talk about when developing new functionality for clients.
Therefore, we have introduced performance budgets for several clients at Adapt.
Whenever we suggest a new functionality or the clients ask for a new feature, we always look at how the introduction of the feature might impact the set performance budget. Will the added functionality put us above the performance thresholds we have set? Can we implement the functionality in a performant way?
The performance budget is not just arbitrary numbers we have just because we like fast sites. We talk about performance budgets because the implementation of new functionality that should help the customers convert better may be detrimental to these efforts because of the extra load. New slow functionality could cause a dip in performance and conversions across the board that might hurt conversions more than the new feature can help.
Good performance is often better for business than new shiny features.
Are you slowed down by legacy technology?
When talking about general user needs, user expectations, and performance in general, it can be a very good idea to take a look at the possible technical debt you might have accumulated over the years working in the same monolithic setup.
Your users demand blazing-fast digital products, web standards are evolving at the speed of light, yet a lot of digital solutions rely on 10-year-old solutions like WordPress, Sitecore, etc, that can force slow low-quality user experiences.
Unoptimized images, heavy pages, and a shameful overall performance score, it’s not anyone's fault - the web is just much harder than it used to be, and legacy tools simply can’t keep up. It forces developers to solve performance issues on their own.
Old school monolithic setups are often or will become, cumbersome and they will almost always carry their weight onto the performance metrics, front- and back-end, but also in the ability to keep up with the industry and user expectations.
By removing the monolith architecture, it is possible to selectively choose the best services for the different parts of your digital business, and thus, make it easier to move freely in an increasingly demanding market.
If you’d like to learn more about headless CMS, you can find relevant links at the bottom of this post.
How to get started with performance optimization
Talk about performance
Talk about performance a lot. Everyone should be involved in this discussion, developers, stakeholders, project managers, etc. Performance optimization is everyone's responsibility and a focus on performance should always be present.
Understand that front-end performance is more than fast load times
Performance is everything the user experiences on a website. Think about perceived performance as much as technical performance. Utilize the RAIL model, prioritize smoothness over speed and focus on the user, always.
Set performance goals and prioritize them
Set performance goals and allocate a part of the budget into obtaining these goals. Think about how the choice of architecture/platform and introduction of specific features might affect performance.
Define the metrics required by the design team, define a strategy to visualize them, and set specific objectives.
Set up performance monitoring tools
There are many good performance monitoring tools out there. Make use of them and get a grasp of how well-positioned your digital business is in terms of performance and the user experience that comes with it.
Take a look at your tech stack and the possible accumulated technical debt
Does your current tech stack allow for keeping up with the ever-increasing demands for digital businesses? There’s a possibility that your current tech stack works against your goals, and not towards them.