Website Performance in 2021: What’s Black and White and Read All Over?

Speed and function. Two words to live by when analyzing and optimizing your site, but 2021 comes with the need for an additional word: accessibility. From color blind accessibility in your UI, to increasingly detailed SLAs and speed requirements, where should you be spending your valuable resources to keep your competitive edge?

 

Performance in the Fine Print

Welcome to the future where, Time is Money, is relevant down to the millisecond. 

Speed sells and lag is expensive. A single second of delay can mean a 1% loss in revenue for a large company. As the market expands the cost of lag increases – while response times are being more and more diligently outlined in Service License Agreements (SLAs) between companies and providers – making speed not just a function but an obligation.

 

How to Show SLA Performance to Clients and Stakeholders

Response time data provides assurance, and matters to clients who look more and more for accountable providers who aren’t trying to sweet talk them with 100% uptime guarantees. Being data-driven is what brings home the bacon, and that means you need to be specific. 

Performance used to mean, is a site UP or is it DOWN, now it means is each element UP? Is each process functioning? What is the response time for each specific facet of a given service? Monitoring site functionality can quickly lead to alert fatigue, and the best advice is don’t bite off more than you can chew. 

 

Break Down your Site Performance

Compartmentalize your performance goals by asking a few simple questions. 

  1. What is your baseline speed for your overall site?
  2. What site services are the most critical?
  3. How are the elements of those services performing?
  4. How can you streamline your site?
  5. What do your user’s say? Do you do outreach?
  6. What do your contracts and agreements stipulate?

The myth of instantly increasing your site performance via a speed test and adjustments to your visual content. We bet this didn’t work when you cleaned your room as a kid either…

 

What Slows Your Site & How to Fix it

There are three phases to optimizing your site for speed and improving your overall function:

  1. Identify
  2. Fix
  3. Monitor

Don’t assume that eliminating or reducing the size of visual elements will fix your performance issues with a snap. In many cases, the visual elements help convey functionality effectively to your users. Performance isn’t always a product of speed alone.

According to Yahoo, 80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading elements such as images and scripts. When a page loads, an HTTP request is made for each element, the more elements there are the longer they take to render. So, as with any science, we begin with an analysis of the elements.

waterfall results of page speed test for website performance

A page speed test waterfall report shows page load speed by element.

 

 

Pro Tip: easily identify elements with the Uptime.com Transaction Recorder – a Chrome-based extension for translating user actions into commands and validators for a Transaction check. Transaction checks return load response times per step. Check out our tips on optimizing your Transaction Checks.

By testing elements individually you receive individual data informing you where the issue lies; is load time due to the size of the element, or the way it’s nested in the code? Can you streamline javascript or reduce the number or size of assets loading before the user sees the content of the page?

After you’ve isolated your speed-sucking elements you’ll want to monitor them. If you built  Transaction checks, you can test for and and identify what impacts performance at which points in your goal funnel.

Don’t Forget: Make sure you set your timeout, Target SLA %, and Response Time SLA parameters so you get alerts when your check exceeds its required threshold.

 

Site Performance: An All Access Pass

Now that you have a speedy site and your elements are being monitored, it’s time to talk about the accessibility of your UI. Staying competitive means staying ahead in terms of ease of use, and that shouldn’t exclude smaller populations like the color blind or hearing impaired. 

Expending resources on colorblind AB Testing and meeting ADA text requirements isn’t so costly when you consider scalability as inclusion continues to trend in the marketplace.

  • Does your site design accommodate color blindness?
  • Do you have ADA descriptions and navigation?
  • What does your support team response look like?

 

What Does Colorblind Accessibility Look Like?

Your site elements shouldn’t rely on color alone to convey purpose. Clear labeling, shape, and the use of icons go a long way to enhance your site’s clarity. The bonus is that these changes will likely benefit most of your users as well:

  • Choose contrasting colors
  • Design in grayscale first
  • Consider using shape and positioning to convey meaning
  • Underline or otherwise indicate that a text is a link, etc.

website performance is enhanced by icons for colorblind accessibility

UI for Check’s Page enhanced with icons to indicate status, clear labelling, and tested color scale.

 

Data Assurance: A Global Performance Standard

In the past when we’ve discussed site functionality we’ve focused primarily on speed and a user’s digital experience when navigating through your interface. Now that we’re taking specific elements and accessibility into account, we also have to talk about general access issues as they relate to data and security.

We’ve all seen the recent headlines about data regulations and hacks are likely to increase internationally. Companies are learning that data privacy is a serious issue, and are beginning to increase data protections. This is a big topic in site functionality and performance as your data compliance will likely have an impact on your client base in defining the company’s that are willing to do business with you.

Usually when it comes to feature updates, Devops and your design team are likely muttering under their breath about deploying yet another set of changes to the UI. In this case, it’s your admin team muttering a four letter word, “GDPR”, Europe’s new data compliance regulations. 

 

Monitor Globally, Alert Locally

Knowing your audience pays off in monitoring too, where your user’s demographics can guide the probe server locations most relevant to you. A combination of location-based third party monitoring and Real User Monitoring (RUM) can paint a very clear picture of how the site is performing in one region or even by device or browser. 

Performance should be user-centric, and that goes far beyond your site’s speed from a quick speed test. Site elements, user geography, UI accessibility, and data compliance are all essential building blocks for a fully functional site in 2021. Continuous monitoring is a big part creating site observability and successfully meeting your SLA agreements and user expectations. 

 

Need help getting started? Check out our tips on monitoring your site uptime or reach out to our support team for more information. 

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Emily Blitstein

Emily Blitstein is a technical content writer for Uptime.com. With a background in writing, editing, and global HR, Emily is committed to delivering informative and relatable content to the Uptime.com user community. Aside from travel, she enjoys making short stop-motion animations, and live music.

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