By James Webb
Group Product Manager, Financial Times, London, United Kingdom
“…To emphasise the importance of a faster Web site to key internal stakeholders, we had to understand the true impact site speed had on user engagement. Fortunately, our analytics team had developed a sophisticated internal engagement metric that accurately predicts the likelihood of renewing a subscription.
Through a rough a series of A/B tests, we slowed the site down to see how site speed correlates to loss of engagement and revenue. Test results showed that for every one second increase in speed, our engagement score increased by 5%. In subscription and ads inventory, this translates into millions in revenue. Speed therefore became a principal element of the site…”
“…We moved the whole Web site to http/2, a faster, more secure protocol than http1.x. We also built various services to optimise the front-end code. For example, we reduced our use of custom fonts and employed predictive feature loading to avoid loading page elements (such as comments) where they were not required. Above all, we were ruthless about the number of third-party scripts we allowed on our site…”
“So with all this effort going into these three key areas, was it worth it? I’d say so:
- The site is the fastest in the industry, with a median page load time of 1.3 seconds on a desktop and 2 seconds on mobile.
- Site users are 20-25% more engaged, thus more likely to renew their subscription.
- Ad inventory has increased by 15-20%.
- Site viewability, due to faster loading, has increased to 72%.
- 44% of our digital subscribers are now using myFT, which is the most praised feature on the new Web site. The user base is growing weekly.”