February 17, 2003, 12:00 AM

Performance is more than home page speed, site monitor says

Many retailers know how fast their home page downloads, but when they don’t monitor pages all the way through a transaction, they could miss signs of trouble.


E-retailers regularly check whether their site is available to shoppers and whether the home page loads at an acceptable speed. But they need to carry monitoring activities deeper into customer transactions to get an accurate read on site performance and its impact on customers, Uzi Nitsan, founder of web performance monitoring services company Vertain Software, tells Internet Retailer.

Nitsan says download speeds between the home page and a site’s other pages may vary dramatically, which can have negative implications for site operators. Pages beyond the home page may be slower to load because they are more dynamic, incorporating data and graphics drawn from a number of different sources, which requires more time to create the page.

“Depending on what the customer is trying to do on the site, the home page is not the critical thing, but the average page is,” he points out. “If it takes five to six pages to complete a task, for example, the bulk of waiting time for the consumer is not on the home page, but the rest of the pages.”

Vertain’s weekly monitoring of transaction processes at various retail sites shows that some have error rates–-typically timeouts–-of as much as 10% or more. “That means one out of every 10 customers trying to do some transaction on the site is not successful,” he says. “That’s not the same as saying that these sites are losing 10% of revenue due to errors, but if a site doesn’t work, if people get timeouts, they may go someplace else.”


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