Before GQ relaunched its website July 1, pages took a painfully long seven seconds to load. With GQ’s mobile visitor at 53 per cent of its traffic and growing, that was an unacceptable lag.
“As users migrate to mobile, page load time is perhaps the most important metric we have,” said Howard Mittman, vp and publisher of the Condé Nast men’s monthly. “If you can’t load pages fast enough, you can’t compete. Consumer expectations in a mobile-led world are extreme.”
GQ set out to tackle that with its reboot. Over the years, the site had gotten weighed down with ad tags and features that direct the server to load certain elements, like autoplay, but had become obsolete or redundant. The site also was publishing on multiple content-management systems, which added to the slowdown.
So along with introducing new article pages, slideshows and more video, GQ reduced its calls to the server by 400 per cent. It migrated to a single CMS, Copilot, Condé Nast’s in-house publishing platform. Article pages also were decluttered. In doing so, GQ cut its page load time by 80 per cent, to under two seconds.
The reason for slow load times, said Craig Hyde, CEO of Rigor, which helps publishers (including GQ) optimise their sites’ performance, is that publishers have outsourced features and services like page resizing, commenting widgets, video players and ad tags to third parties, resulting in an average page load time of seven seconds. “It used to be they’d own the servers, the applications that are building out the page, and they’d write their own content,” he said. “The size of the page today is about the same size as an MP3 file.”
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