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home > issues > 131

Automatic Image Carousels Kill Conversions?, Beware HTTP Redirects, Install Mod_Pagespeed, Avoid Mass Web Hosting, DC Tops in US Broadband - Optimization Week of March 26, 2014

Optimization Week Issue #131, March 26, 2014

In this issue we've got lots of new content for you plus a couple of outside articles of interest. A reader sent in an article from ConversionXL that talks about design complexity and conversions. Simpler designs are consistently rated as more beautiful than more complex designs, and tend to have higher conversions. Widely popular, auto-rotating carousels (flippers as we call them), can kill conversions and are largely ignored, so says another article and multiple studies. Would a hybrid approach work better with both images and text in each slide. Or should we let the user control the slider rather than auto-rotate? For new content we've got sn HTTP redirect cautionary tale, testing mod_pagespeed, and a case study on moving away from mass web hosting (hint, much faster TTFB).

Beware HTTP Redirects for SEO and Performance
Standardizing on an authoritative URL form is a best practice for search engine optimization and performance. Avoid duplicate content and first byte delays by canonicalizing your URLs.
Why Simple Websites are Scientifically Better
Interesting article on the benefits of simplicity in web design. In short, visual complexity gets in the way of conversions. The article explores prototypical designs, where your brain creates a kind of template based on other similar sites. Jakob Nielsen talks about this in his book Homepage Usability. The article also links to an article on automatic image sliders that "kill conversions" by inducing a form of banner blindness. Nielsen says that carousels should only show a new panel when users ask for it.
Install Mod_Pagespeed
Installing mod_pagespeed can make significant improvements in web page performance. In our tests, web page start render times improved by 17% to 43% and load times improved by about one-third. However, while mod_pagespeed improved load times, it is no substitute for manual website optimization.
DC Tops in US Broadband Speed
The District of Columbia had the fastest average broadband speed in the USA. The US came in 17th worldwide in broadband penetration in a recent survey.
Avoid Mass Web Hosting
We investigate moving an example site from a slow mass host to a lightly loaded host and measure the results. Server response times were reduced by 82.1% and variability by about 7 fold.