6 - 8 minute read

Adopt a Performance Mindset

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Top-performers reserve 10% of their development time for web performance

For consumers, successful online service is characterized by three pillars: the right products, a user-friendly website and fast and reliable performance. For your users, it is not only important that the site’s performance is good but more so that the performance is good each and every time they visit. At MeasureWorks, we collaborate daily with Product Owners and Developers to push them to deliver what consumers expect. We work together to provide insight into site performance, to improve it and to keep it under control. To Get Fast, Stay Fast.

A well-performing website is a day’s work from Marketing to IT. On many fronts, work is carried out on functionalities, look & feel, content, products, campaigns and social media. In practice, we often see that the site performance falls by the wayside. New functionalities go live, third parties are added and after a while the website is slow and customers start complaining. What is the best remedy for this? Integrate site performance in the sprint cycle! The sprint rhythm provides awareness and insight and the advantage is that site performance becomes a conscious choice.

Becoming fast: Get Fast, Stay Fast

It is tempting to immediately start with the ‘Get Fast’ improvements, making your website faster. A quick search on Google produces many tools that are useful for spotting performance improvements. Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insight, WebPageTest.org to name a few. We use these tools ourselves, so as far as that’s concerned they’re an excellent choice 😉

For your users, it is important that you’re not only fast, but that you stay fast. Users drop out when your site slows down or doesn’t work properly. You won’t gain more users when you become faster, but there is a big chance that you will lose users when you become slow. 

Stay Fast is therefore just as important as Get Fast… Our experience shows that it is important to include Stay Fast from the start, or even should be your first starting point as testing could constrain what you can optimize. Include performance in the rhythm of the sprints: measure, analyze and give feedback. In this way, you anchor performance in your working method and performance becomes a conscious consideration for the development of new features. A new release cannot be slower than the current version.

When this mentality is created in your team, you speak of a performance culture – exactly what is needed for long-term effect. Reserve 10% of the development time for performance in each sprint, so that you can become fast and stay fast.

Building Performance Culture with your Product Owner Performance

When you start optimizing performance, you will probably see results quickly. The first quick wins will usually result in a few hundred milliseconds profit in page speed. But after the first optimization, it becomes difficult to maintain focus and become even faster. In fact, if you lose focus, over time you will see your website slowing down again. 

Compare it to training for a sporting event: a marathon, a cycle race or a tournament. You train daily to get your body ready for that one moment. But when that moment is over, it becomes difficult to maintain this condition. This differs from a top athlete, who does not have to train for a specific moment, but achievements have to be maintained for days, weeks or months. The difference is that top athletes are always ready to perform well. This requires daily maintenance of body and condition and is not a one-off project.

To create the same long-term effect for Product owners and DEV teams, we have introduced the role of Product Owner Performance. You can best compare the role of Product Owner Performance with that of a coach for top athletes. Every day, we work together with Conversion Specialists, Product Owners and Web Developers; we give advice and practical tips to improve site performance; we dive into technology where necessary and deliver insightful reports. But above all, we push your organization to become a little better every day and to keep doing so.

To be successful and deliver results, the Product Owner Performance is part of the development team and works according to our clients’ workflows. The advantage of this approach is that we work together on performance optimization and at the same time define a way of working that is tailored to your company’s development process. The benefit is that you start building a performance culture without interrupting your workflow.

3 best practices to Get Fast, Stay Fast

1. Performance Targets: How fast do you want to be?

It’s like an athlete who wants to train for an important competition. He has to ask himself: what is my current performance? What do I want to be able to do in 12 weeks? Or what do I need to be able to perform in order to win the competition? The athlete sets a goal and trains hard for it.

The same applies to site performance: How fast are you now? How fast do you want to be? The retailers who already work on this have to build a performance culture and create a head start on the competition. There are three ways to respond to this:

Basic: general guidelines

Make sure you meet general guidelines. The Google Core Web Vitals are a good example. With three metrics (LCP, FID and CLS), they provide insight into site performance for mobile and desktop. This data is also collected by real Chrome users. Summarized and publicly available as the Chrome UX report. In short, a great starting point and good for SEO.

Advanced: Benchmark

Compare your site with top retailers or direct competitors. How does the website score on mobile and desktop compared to other players? A top-3 position is often already a good start as a performance target.

Ultimate: Performance vs Conversion analysis

Make a (deep dive) analysis based on your real users. This is a combination of both performance and conversion data. At what performance do we reach an optimal conversion? This is then the performance target to achieve.

2. Continuous Improvement: Include performance in sprints

As Product Owner Performance, we participate in development sprints. This way there is continuous attention and coaching in the field of performance. On the one hand for concrete improvements, but also for functional user stories. We often see that the focus is exclusively on the functionality and the effect on performance of these user stories is forgotten. By joining the development team, it is possible to consult and make adjustments at an early stage.

Tip: Creating a performance backlog (or epic) is essential for good communication with stakeholders and teams. Make sure the user stories are prioritized and worked out with a clear problem description, including the expected performance impact.

We notice in practice that a positive performance mindset is created when 10% of development time is structurally spent on performance. It is precisely the long-term character that pays off in better code quality and ultimately a faster website.

3. Checks & balances: Testing and feedback

To keep the performance under control, it is important to integrate checks & balances, so that it quickly To keep the performance under control, it is important to integrate checks & balances, so that it quickly becomes clear whether a change has a (positive or negative) effect on the site performance (end-user experience). This works best by integrating an acceptance and production environment with some form of monitoring for end-user experience. The aim is to provide early feedback to the development team about the effect of changes on the perception of speed. The monitoring tools often also have an API available, which can be linked to, for example, a CI/CD server, dashboard or chat service such as Slack. In this way, site performance becomes a conscious choice for the business and a good mindset is created.

Your coach: Product Owner Performance

Need help achieving a healthy performance mentality? MeasureWorks helps! 

The role of Product Owner Performance is comparable to that of a coach for top athletes. MeasureWorks is your sparring partner and advisor in the field of site performance. Every day, we work together with Conversion Specialists, Product Owners and Web Developers; we give advice and practical tips to improve site performance; we dive into technology where necessary and deliver insightful reports. 

Would you like a coach at your side to improve your website’s performance? Get in contact!

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