Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Retail website homepage weights – why are they so bloated?

I have been working on client eCommerce sites recently and noticed that some competitive ones were very slow to download. Assuming my Internet connection was the problem I looked to stop any other online services that might be running (e.g. Skype, downloads, etc.)… Only to find I didn’t have anything else downloading.

So I loaded-up Firebug (a brilliant and free debugging tool that plugs into Firefox) and checked the size of the homepages I was looking at.

Here’s what I found:

Site: http://www.johnlewis.com/
Total file size: 573k
Onload time*: 7.55s

Site: http://www.marksandspencer.com/
Total file size: 1.5Mb
Onload time*: 13.63s

Site: http://www.hsamuel.co.uk/
Total file size: 1.3Mb
Onload time*: 16.28s

Site: http://www.debenhams.com/
Total file size: 1.1Mb
Onload time*: 8.16s

Site: http://www.goldsmiths.co.uk/
Total file size: 1.1Mb
Onload time*: 7.44s

Site: http://www.bhs.co.uk/
Total file size: 720kb
Onload time*: 7.39s

Site: http://www.morrisons.co.uk/
Total file size: 1.1Mb
Onload time*: 7.22s

Site: http://asda.co.uk/
Total file size: 866k
Onload time*: 9.33s

Note: This isn’t an exactly scientific test, being conducted once on a PC with network traffic. But even as indicators of total file size and download time, they do start to paint a pretty interesting picture.

However these figures pale into mere insignificance when compared with the weight of the George Style Blog http://georgestyle.george.com/ set up to accompany their support of Graduate Fashion Week. This homepage tops the scales at a whopping 2.8Mb (or to put it another way, not just one but two entire old HD floppy drives from the past!).

You really have to ask why this sort of bloated homepage shenanigans is still going on in this age of web page optimisation…. and whether any of these UK retailers are aware that an increase in page delivery speed can significantly improve conversion.

*Onload time is approximately the time taken for the page to start to display. Other elements are still downloading and the entire page might take much longer to fully render.
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