May 8, 2012, 12:50 PM

Newegg makes a smaller splash for better mobile performance

It reduced the size of its splash page and dropped two seconds of load time.

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The e-retailer kept its mobile splash page very light to maintain good performance.

There are mobile commerce executives who favor the use of splash pages and others who disagree. A splash page contains a promotion and is displayed before rendering a home page. In the mobile realm, most of the time a splash page promotes downloading a company’s mobile app, steering users away from the mobile web site. Sites typically are less functional and less exciting than apps.

A splash page can be a great spot for a promotion as it hits consumers right away. But it also can slow down page loads. Computer hardware and software e-retailer Newegg Inc. is using a splash page on its m-commerce site, but it’s doing so in a way that doesn’t dampen performance too much. In fact, in recent weeks it reduced the number of objects on the splash page from 10 to three and as a result has seen its performance improve, says mobile and web performance management firm Keynote Systems Inc. A page object is an element on a page such as an image or a box of text.

Newegg, No. 34 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, moved up four spots from No. 19 to No. 15 on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index for the week ending May 6. Its m-commerce site home page loaded on average in 8.26 seconds, down from 10.40 seconds the prior week. The page loaded successfully 99.02% of the time. Newegg earned an index score of 829 out of 1,000.

“Using splash screens can be beneficial for marketing purposes, but adds an extra page before users can hit the mobile site,” says Venkatesh Giri, mobile performance expert at Keynote Systems. “Keeping the splash screen minimal is absolutely necessary because it’s not the content a user intended to see and Newegg recognized this by dropping seven objects from their splash screen to keep it very light and simple.”

Further, the navigation buttons on the splash page are not images but text as part of a Cascading Style Sheet, or CSS, an HTML-based template that dictates where objects appear on a page. By making the buttons part of the CSS file instead of separate images, it reduced the number of web server requests, each of which adds time to a page load.

“This is the correct way to run a promotion and maintain fast load times on your mobile site,” Giri says.

Newegg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sears Holdings Corp. topped the Keynote index for the week ending May 6 with a load time of 3.21 seconds and a success rate of 99.59% for a score of 997. Toolfetch.com LLC came in second with a load time of 4.59 seconds and a success rate of 97.66% for a score of 915. And Amazon.com Inc. came in third with a load time of 5.57 seconds and a success rate of 99.05% for a score of 913.

The index average load time was 8.61 seconds, the average success rate was 97.62% and the average score was 790.

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 Walmart.com, 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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