In order to consistently deliver high-quality and highly responsive experiences to capture online opportunities, e-commerce firms face technology challenges in providing rich content and managing capacity demands and new workloads. They must find effective ways to overcome the limitations the mobile channel presents, scale up to accommodate peak loads and address performance issues on almost every front. Two areas present particular performance challenges:
Mobile devices and connectivity
Mobile devices have changed the commerce landscape, rapidly becoming not only the easiest way for customers to buy but also the most effective way for organizations to reach consumers at the moment of decision. Yet organizations are struggling to deliver mobile experiences that live up to user expectations. More users accessing more dynamic content on more devices can pose a performance bottleneck. And getting the necessary performance from a web-hosting environment for mobile devices is different than providing performance for desktop users. The challenges mobile computing presents to organizations seeking to deliver optimized web experiences include:
- Mobile networks: Unlike fixed-line networks, mobile networks were not designed for web traffic—they were designed for voice. As a result, they often experience speed and reliability issues that can impact load times.
- Vast diversity of mobile devices: The wide range of mobile devices and usage contexts pose new performance issues— among them, slow processing due to the fact that mobile devices have only a fraction of the CPU power of desktops.
- The rapid pace of innovation: In rapidly growing mobile and online environments, devices, networks, software, protocols and standards are continually in flux—creating complexity and unpredictability that can make it difficult to ensure high performance and a consistent user experience.
In response, e-commerce firms and others doing business online must find effective ways to overcome the limitations of wireless networks and delivery systems—and they must design strategies for handling the extensive diversity of end-user devices, each of which has its own capabilities and limitations.
Responsive web design
Many organizations have attempted to improve the way they engage mobile users by using responsive web design (RWD). This web development approach seeks to provide an optimal viewing experience by enabling web pages to respond to the screen size and other elements of the context in which they are loaded so that the user interface changes accordingly. But while adopting a RWD strategy is a step toward addressing website usability and design challenges, issues persist. RWD sites tend to be complex and, as a result, they can make mobile performance painfully slow. One of the challenges presented by the large, complex pages associated with RWD is that end users’ browsers need to process and render them. Processing and rendering on underpowered mobile devices with limited computing power, however, can result in slow performance that negatively impacts the user experience. Reports suggest, in fact, that most RWD sites do not meet end users’ expectations for a high-quality online experience. (5 Guy Podjarny, Responsive & Fast: Implementing High-Perforfmance Responsive Design, (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, 2014) However, steps can be taken—as outlined in this white paper—to isolate and alleviate responsive performance barriers in order to ensure an optimal user experience.
Solutions required for fast, reliable online experiences
Faced with today’s online user expectations, system performance challenges and the need to understand in real time what platform customers are using, e-commerce enterprises and other organizations with a significant online presence must transform their ability to deliver responsive and fast mobile web performance. In the competitive arena of digital customer engagement, web developers and architects must examine, measure and reevaluate how they can improve their delivery of:
- High-performance responsiveness
The goal is ultimately to reduce the complexity of delivering high-performing web experiences with proven technologies that increase conversions and user engagement by delivering highly responsive user experiences. In a future blog, I will discuss strategies for each of these areas.
If you have questions before then, schedule a consultation to meet with one of our solution architects.
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