Today’s web and mobile users want the information they need when they need it, with a single click or swipe of a tablet or smartphone. And you only have milliseconds to grab their attention and complete the transaction. Amazon found that every 100 milliseconds of latency cost it 1 percent in sales, while Walmart reports conversion rates rise 2 percent for every second of reduced load time.

5 Questions to Ask

In order to improve web and mobile performance -- and increase online conversion rates -- many companies have turned to web and mobile application optimization solutions. If you’re looking to optimize the web and mobile experience for your customers, here are five questions you should be asking:

1. What corporate objectives will web and mobile application optimization help me to meet?

A successful application optimization solution can help you meet two strategic objectives. One is aimed outward at improving the experience of your customers and engaging them to do business with you. The other is aimed inward at how you implement optimization processes and technologies, and how your investments help meet corporate objectives.

2. How important is it to measure the effectiveness of web and mobile applications?

A lack of clear metrics linking web and mobile application optimization to business outcomes makes it difficult, if not impossible, for managers to know how much user engagement or revenue they are missing, much less where to focus their remediation efforts. Google Analytics, for example, counts irrelevant traffic (such as from internal developers and testers, search engine crawlers and automated test and monitoring tools).

Google Analytics Site Speed is hobbled by low sampling rates, a reliance on means rather than medians (which overemphasizes the influence of outliers) and fails to capture data due to connection timeouts, failed requests and other inconsistencies. It also makes it difficult to isolate performance over mobile connections, where single samples over slow networks can have a disproportionate effect on overall site performance measures.

A successful web and mobile application optimization solution should enable you to measure the business impact of your optimization efforts to ensure you are focusing your efforts and investments on the areas that provide the greatest benefit to the business.

3. What optimization processes are in place now and where are they falling short?

Many existing approaches to speeding application performance fail to deliver the instant response users demand. That is because they lack awareness of the all-important context of the user experience. What type of device are they using? What type of network are they on? How large is the screen on their device, and how many application components can they see “above the fold” without swiping down?

Without this detailed context, web application optimization technologies cannot drive engagement and business impact. They might speed delivery of the wrong application components or data, or even slow response time by adding client-side code that attempts to identify and tailor content to the user’s device.

4. Why can’t my existing CDN help with web and mobile application optimization?

Existing approaches, such as CDNs (content delivery networks) or ADNs (application delivery networks), cannot deliver the required application experiences because they see only a static and limited view of the data exchanged between the host and the receiving device. Their brute force, “copy and forward” approach of speeding the delivery of all content makes it impossible to prioritize the specific data each user needs at any given moment and to engage them to drive business impact.

Both CDNs and ADNs focus on accelerating content delivery. This is a component of, but not as valuable as, true user engagement. To drive business value and customer conversion, it is necessary to understands what content the user wants, on the specific device and network they are using at this moment, based on their most recent clicks.

5. What about Responsive Web Design? Won’t this help speed application delivery?

Responsive Web Design (RWD) does aim to speed application delivery by adapting web content to each user’s viewing environment using fluid, proportion-based grids and flexible images. However, RWD can actually slow content delivery and rendering when it requires large amounts of additional JavaScript or loads unneeded components such as CSS behind unused media queries.

Like other existing approaches, RWD cannot determine which content to deliver to the client or reprioritize or reorder the presentation of that content once it’s delivered.

Lingering Questions

The above questions are by no means exhaustive. Some other areas of consideration are:

  • Which web and mobile applications are most critical to the business?
  • Are desktop and mobile channels equally vital to your success?
  • Have you implemented (or tried to implement) Responsive Website Design (RWD) and, if so, has it had a positive business impact?
  • For mobile specifically, has RWD actually increased page load times?
  • What areas of the application experience do you need to fix to increase user conversion, satisfaction and loyalty?
  • How will you ensure your new optimization technologies are applied correctly and are working?

In order to maximize user engagement and the business benefits of web and mobile applications, companies should implement application optimization solutions that automatically, intelligently and in real time speed the flow of the data each user needs at any given time to their specific device. By asking the questions above these companies can put in place a strategy that will yield significant results.