Web Performance Calendar

The speed geek's favorite time of year
2013 Edition

Mike Schoeffler

Mike Schoeffler (@workglide) founded workglide.com to help companies quantify their speed profits. He likes surfing really big websites from really poor connections.

Let’s face it. Your business doesn’t care about web performance. Customer happiness and profits warm the business’ little corporate heart, but they need you to teach them the connection between speed and profits.

The good news: web performance can make a dramatic impact on both user satisfaction and sales. But you still need to prove out the numbers to a skeptical audience. Otherwise, your team will not access the resources needed to help your company succeed in speed.

Why not just look at other people’s numbers?

A few companies have published the effect of speed on their bottom lines. Glasses Direct showed they earned 7% more for every second in faster load time. Amazon found even stronger speed sensitivity.

But you’re not either of these companies.

It’s not only a question of volume, but different customer demographics and products. Heck, speed sensitivity varies across pages on a single website – even for Amazon.

Building your own speed profit relationships

So where do you begin?

  1. Make sure your team is aligned on your site’s major goals. What’s their financial value? Simpler when you sell a product, but even non-profits have goals (like email sign-ups or engagement on site) worth some amount of money.
  2. Measure profits vs. speed. Check your visitors’ actual speeds on every page and log your earnings on that visit. Make sure to only record earnings after the page being measured. After all, sales before that page aren’t affected by page speed.
  3. Remove noise. One example: you’ll probably see some extremely fast loads with no sales. Could be due to robots scraping your site, strange pre-fetching, or aliens aiming beta particles at the internet. The root cause doesn’t matter as much as ensuring you’re working with clean data.
  4. Apply good statistics. Randomized A/B testing is unhelpful in the speed arena. But “natural experiments” like this one contain strange relationships that can mess with your results. For example, your wealthiest customers buy more and also own faster data connections. Does this really show a relationship between speed and profit?
  5. Deliver strong visualizations. The business is full of smart folks, but they’re also human. Your credibility increases when you show them complex numbers in a way they can grasp without struggling. They focus on your point, instead of deciphering your meaning.
  6. Add tremendous value. Start by knocking the balls out of the park. Budget your first projects to aim for earning 200% Internal Rate of Return.

    If you can earn an extra $1 million per year from a $500K investment, go for it.
    Now, if every business could earn 200% IRR, we’d all be driving space cars by now. You’ll also find plenty of lower IRR projects worth doing, but let the business get excited first. They’ll guide you to their true target rate – and be thrilled every time you beat it.

  7. Repeat. You may not have to present these numbers to your peers every month, but you should keep an eye on them anyhow. Not only do your speeds vary, but so do your profit sensitivities. It’s just a natural side effect as your business and demographics shift over time.

Time is money, ftw

The business will quickly learn to love performance once they understand the solid connection to their goals. Deliver that link and they will provide the support you need.

Just quantify and publish your speed profits. Your work will gain the attention it deserves.