Compuware released the results of its Black Friday to Cyber Monday research and offers practical tips to help online retailers maximize the remainder of the holiday shopping season.

The study, which measured shoppers' estimated satisfaction with web and mobile site performance for the top U.S. online retailers, analyzed the activities that happen when visitors load web pages or interact with dynamic elements on the page.

Top Performers

Light third-party content, lightweight JavaScript and static images hosted on a separate cache domain helped J. C. Penney stand out as a top performer. Even the top performers, however, could improve performance by using CSS Sprites to merge some static images and combine and minimize JavaScript files. Retail websites used in the study also include Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Amazon, American Eagle, Apple, Gap, Home Depot, J. Crew, QVC, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Staples, Symantec, Target, Toys “R” Us and Urban Outfitters.


The Compuware study recommends that retailers check third-party content, such as social media plugins and ads, to see if they are slowing down site performance. Image sizes should be reduced wherever possible, and text files should be combined or compressed to help reduce download time.

Learning Opportunities

JavaScript stood out as a big source of performance problems, so the study recommends using updated code libraries and coding practices and analyzing the impact of JavaScript performance across the major browsers. Also, check redirect settings to minimize round trips and to speed up page load time. Finally, check server-side performance, especially with dynamic pages.

Mastering Mobile

For 2011, mobile shoppers grew to 11%, which is almost triple from 2010. On Cyber Monday, more than 7% of purchases were made from mobile devices. The study looked at mobile sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, Office Depot, Sears and Victoria's Secret.

Earlier this year, IBM reported that mobile devices would drive 15% of web traffic over the course of this holiday season. IBM then followed up with a report that showed a 39.3% increase in online Thanksgiving day spending and an almost 25% increase in online sales growth over last year's Black Friday numbers. This same study indicated that shoppers referred by social networks generated 0.53% of all online sales on Black Friday, with Facebook leading the group with 75% of all social network traffic coming from its social site.