Keynote Systems today released mobile site performance metrics from 2011, which indicate important industry best practices across three verticals, including Travel and Hospitality, Mobile Financial and News and Portal sites.
According to Keynote’s metrics, average page load time was 5.74 seconds across mobile financial sites. Charles Schwab had the fastest page load time of 4.008 seconds, while Wells Fargo had the highest reliability of 98.96 percent.
Average load time across mobile news & portal sites was 6.05 seconds, with an average reliability rate of 92.27 percent. Facebook led both page load time (4.273 seconds) and reliability (98.34 percent) in this category.
Fairmont took fastest page load time (4.625 seconds) and reliability (98.76 percent) across mobile travel & hospitality sites, which saw an overall average page load time of 5.46 seconds and an average reliability of 9 percent.
Keynote Systems said the top performers for 2011 stood by a few key mantras in managing and developing their mobile sites that any business can learn from in 2012:
Less Is More – It’s as simple as this, the fewer number of objects on your home page, the less time it takes to load. On a small mobile screen, the user experience is about clarity, usability and speed. Out of the three mobile indices, the Travel and Hospitality average was lowest in speed (5.46 seconds) with an average of 7.96 objects. The longest load time was given to the news and portal index at 6.6 seconds, with an average of 18.83 objects.
Object Size Matters – Images and objects look great on the desktop, but on mobile they just take a long time to load. The financial mobile sites like Charles Schwab and Fidelity kept their sites quick by cutting down their kb’s, reducing the number of heavy images and using clear directive text for their mobile home pages. Across all three indices, the top performers maintained an average of 11 objects on their home page, with a speed of 5.75 seconds. The remainder of the sites had an average of 23 objects, slowing their speed down to 14.78 seconds, a critical difference of 9 seconds.
When disaster strikes, it’s not your (mobile) site – Several times throughout 2011, there were unexpected news events (Japan earthquake, Osama Bin Laden and major news events of the like) during which mobile traffic spiked in rates that were difficult to predict. While keeping your website mobile friendly is key to managing high traffic times, it is not always the answer. Network issues and other factors can play into your mobile websites’ overall performance.
Keep an eye on your partners – It is not usual for a mobile site to contain objects provided or hosted by a third party. This could be a mobile ad provider, content provider or content delivery network (CDN). If a page has any elements hosted on external web servers, that means the site owner loses complete control of their site’s performance, because anything could happen to these objects over time — they could became unavailable, much slower to request and download or not responsive at all. All of these will have a negative effect on site quality and the end user experience.
The wireless network is not the same as a wired network – In most cases, the site owner builds, tests and validates their site content over a stable wired or Wi-Fi connection with great throughput, and everything looks good. But since mobile end users will access the site over a less stable, higher latency, lower bandwidth cellular data connection, the most accurate testing and monitoring should be done using a cellular data connection also in order to capture any unexpected performance issues.
Keynote repeatedly tests the sites on the index hourly and around the clock from four locations over the leading four U.S. wireless networks emulating the browsers of four different devices: the iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC EVO (Android) on Sprint, the Motorola Droid X (Android) on Verizon Wireless and the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile USA. Data is collected from San Francisco, New York, Dallas and Chicago and then aggregated to provide an overall monthly average in terms of both speed and reliability.