February 23, 2012, 12:49 PM

Turning a small page into a tiny page

Toolfetch.com streamlines its m-commerce site home page and boosts performance.

Lead Photo

The merchant's m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 4.07 seconds.

Toolfetch.com LLC’s m-commerce site home page loaded on smartphones on average in 4.07 seconds, according to the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending Feb. 19. That’s lower than the previous week’s 4.65 seconds. The merchant achieved this improvement in mobile performance, where every fraction of a second counts, through some technological tricks.

“Toolfetch.com improved performance by reducing the page size of its BlackBerry-optimized mobile home page; we measure BlackBerry on the T-Mobile network,” says Joe Flake, Keynote Systems Inc. web and mobile performance expert. “Toolfetch.com made a small page—20 kilobytes and four elements including an initial target URL, a redirect to the mobile home page, a style sheet and a logo image—into a tiny page—14 kilobytes and three elements including the base page and two binary encoded files. That site change resulted in a several-second improvement in the merchant’s T-Mobile load times.”

A base page is the HTML source of a web site or mobile site. This text file contains the markup language with page elements and their attributes as well as links to page objects—such as images, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets—that a browser should follow and download. A binary encoded file is embedded within a base page; the file combines page objects into one package. Toolfetch.com includes a Cascading Style Sheet, the company logo and icons in the binary encoded file it now uses, says Andrew Brown, co-founder and CEO of the merchant, No. 215 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300.

“The binary encoding doesn’t compress objects, but by including the data within the HTML directly, it simplifies the data transfer process,” Brown explains. “Virtually identical data would normally be sent, but as separate files and separate web server requests; but a binary encoded file reduces things to a single action, speeding the page load process.”

Sears Holdings Corp. topped the Keynote index this week with a page load time of 3.05 seconds, a success rate of 99.52% and a perfect score of 1,000. CVS Caremark Corp. came in second with a load time of 3.43 seconds, a success rate of 98.96% and a score of 972. And J.C. Penney Co. Inc. came in third with a load time of 5.29 seconds, a success rate of 99.37% and a score of 950. Sears is No. 21 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300. CVS is No. 92 and J.C. Penney is No. 26.

The average load time for all 30 retailers on the index was 9.18 seconds. The average success rate was 94.76% and the average score was 706.

Click here and then click on Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index Part 1 and Part 2 to see this week’s complete results for all 30 retailers on the index.

Keynote Systems measures 30 representative m-commerce sites exclusively for Internet Retailer. The sites include merchants in multiple categories and channels, and of multiple sizes, ranging from such giants as Amazon.com Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., to midsized retailers like Sunglass Hut and Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern time, emulating four different smartphones on four different wireless networks: Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC Evo on Sprint, the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile and the Droid X on Verizon. The HTC Evo and the Droid X run Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Keynote runs the tests in Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco.

Keynote combines a site’s load time and success rate, equally weighted, into a single score. Given that both performance and availability are important, the score reflects the overall quality of the home page; a higher score indicates better performance. Scores also reflect how close sites are to each other in overall quality. The index average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores.

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