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Beware! The Scary Truth About Widgets [Infographic]

by Bob Buffone  |  
October 30, 2013

With visions of holiday campaigns and jolly green dollar signs dancing in their heads, many marketers overlook the most important part of a successful online holiday campaign: Web performance. It's where speed and user experience come together.

For example, websites that take longer than three seconds to load immediately lose 80% of site visitors, and 40% never return. Along those same lines, every 1-second delay results in a 16% drop in customer satisfaction. Site visitors donít turn into pumpkins after three seconds, but attempting to engage with a sluggish site is frustrating, especially when you consider that people perceive sites to be 15% slower than they really are. A non-optimized landing page is lucky to convert 50% as much as when itís been tuned. Now, that's downright terrifying!

And let's not forget widgets. They sound cute, but these sharp-toothed little monsters are devouring sites left and right. In fact, the most popular marketing widgets are known to suck the speed out of a website, dragging performance into the ground and actually harming your conversion. That's right... All those must-have third-party widgets that are supposed to improve your marketing efforts are killing your conversion rates. This is no ghost story; every one-second website delay causes a 7% DROP in conversion.

What's a marketer to do? Don't let poor web performance kill your holiday marketing dreams. With a few quick adjustments, you can tame widgets, ground high-flying bounces and send conversion rates soaring.

Review and remove widgets you donít really need. Before adding anything new, assess whether itís truly going to drive engagement and add value, or if itís simply a trendy or aesthetic choice. Hereís an example, if youíre using an A/B testing widget to understand user behavior, consider that the #1 factor in performance is speed and experience, and adding potentially complicated JavaScript directly opposes that goal.

For those widgets already in place, continually assess performance by examining the asset in a waterfall chart like those on and If any one widget is dragging down performance noticeably, it might be time to drop it.

For the third-party assets you simply canít live without, the best way to maintain performance is to ensure that they load asynchronously.

For example, below are two JavaScript options to add the Facebook widget to your web page.

The worst: This script will completely block page loading if getting the script is slow.

We have some examples (first, second) on our blog, and in this screenshot your visitor would be waiting 27 seconds because of a Facebook widget! †Spoiler alert: That user wouldnít wait.

The next worst: This script will impact the rendering performance of your application.

Your best choice is to defer loading the third-party component until the user requires it and never load it before the page is fully rendered.

For more widget-busting tips to improve web performance in time for the holiday rush, check out out the Holiday eCommerce Survival Guide.

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Bob Buffone is CTO and Co-founder of Yottaa, architecting a solution to make the web faster.

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