Podcast: Site Speedup and Easy Device-Level Customization with Ari Weil

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In this episode of Landing Page Optimization, SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash and Yottaa Product Management Director Ari Weil discuss conversion in a multi-device environment, site speed’s role in user experience and search, and getting marketers control over web site display for phones, tablets, and desktops.

Multiple Devices, Multiple Issues 

Ari opens the discussion by talking about load time issues when displaying content for a multitude of devices. With more and more people online all the time, but using different devices to access your site, conversion problems are not always content or design related - sometimes, conversion issues are tied to how the pages are loaded. Tim asks how Yottaa tackles this issue, and Ari explains that his company essentially adds a layer between the Content Management System (CMS) and the user - that layer detects which elements to load and the order to load them in depending on the device and the region of the user.

What technologies like that enable companies to do is optimize so that the most important elements are loaded first, say, the page content before the newsletter signup or the Twitter share option. 

Removing Barriers

Ari notes that there is a slew of barriers to converting visitors when you’re talking about the web application. There are things like page performance, and distractions.

To address performance, a lot of web sites use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to cache content on different geographic locations. That works great for static content, but if you need personalization by behavior, device, or some other criteria, it’s less effective. Solutions that intercept visits and determine which items need to be loaded when a smart phone is accessing your site may work better in that regard.

For distractions, what you can do is tailor experiences. For instance, if you’re serving a page with Flash to an Apple device, solutions like Yottaa can replace the Adobe plugin icon with a photo, or no content at all, so users don’t hate your web site for showing a Flash plugin error message.

Just In Time Content

Ari talks about the values of serving the right content, at the right time, to the right device. Desktops and laptops have more processing power and better connections, so for that use case, the entire page needs to be loaded. But for mobile, not everything should be loaded. Even with Responsive Web Design, (RWD) though, there’s a risk of loading everything and then reconfiguring based on rules - that’s less than optimal. That’s basically hiding content instead if actively choosing not to deliver the irrelevant content.

What you can do is intercept the visit, choose to deliver only a subset of the experience for smart phones, and then deliberately strip down what you’re delivering. That ensures the load time is optimal, but it does more than that; for users with smart phones, that means they don’t need to do a lot of navigation or scrolling.

Marketing Ownership

The other problem Ari and his company are trying to solve is how marketing can control the experience without too much of a reliance on IT. With Google using page load time as a ranking factor, marketers need to partially own how quickly a page can be served - and Tim notes that adding things to the IT development queue can be a good way to never see a project again or to see it again in six months.

Ari notes that the the goal is for you to opimize your site and have IT involved with it in a way that is not going to be confrontational or jarring. Intercepting the visit is much less complicated than getting RWD right, so the company can enable you to continue to maintain your living site, to maximize your conversions, without creating an IT bottleneck. 

As you test and implement intercept solutions, you can segment by device to check conversion lift, bounce rate reduction, and other benefits via standard tools like Google Analytics.

First Air Date: February 17, 2014

Listen online or download the podcast from WebmasterRadio.fm

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