It should come as no surprise to anyone who tracks the retail industry that IBM®, a long-time leader of in-store retail technology, offers one of the most advanced ecommerce suites available. IBM WebSphere® Commerce is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that gives enterprise retailers the ability to offer their customers a rich shopping experience integrated across online, mobile and in-store touchpoints.
IBM WebSphere Commerce places particular emphasis on the mobile shopper. It offers a high level of customization for the mobile user, and recognizes that the presentation layer on smartphones and tablets must be differentiated and optimized. Ecommerce sites built using WebSphere Commerce can also be rendered using responsive design techniques. As experts in ensuring optimum presentation of high-performance ecommerce sites on mobile devices, we’re very pleased to announce that Trilibis is teaming with IBM to accelerate the performance of responsive design websites across all device types — especially mobile devices.
We have successfully validated our SNOW® Image Optimization solution (SNOW IO) for use with IBM WebSphere Commerce, bringing instant performance improvements to thousands of retail websites built using this ecommerce platform. Trilibis is also now an IBM Business Partner and has joined IBM PartnerWorld as an Omni-Channel In-Store & Mobile solution to help IBM WebSphere Commerce users integrate SNOW IO with their websites.
What this means for IBM WebSphere Commerce users
The new technical integration gives IBM WebSphere Commerce retailers a simple and efficient way to ensure that their image-rich websites load fast across all smartphones and tablets. SNOW® IO is a lightweight image-optimization solution that automatically improves website performance and bandwidth utilization for responsive websites built with IBM’s leading commerce solution.
The combination of Trilibis SNOW IO and IBM WebSphere addresses a key objective for all online retailers: delivering the best possible customer experience mobile devices. And because SNOW IO is continually updated, we can ensure future compatibility with new classes of devices such as wearable technology and large-format displays.
How it works
Installed as a simple plug-in on any IBM WebSphere Commerce server, SNOW IO automatically identifies images used on every web page and optimizes them for the thousands of devices tracked in our device library. At runtime, SNOW IO works in conjunction with the IBM WebSphere Commerce server to identify the type of device that is accessing the website, and to ensure it is served only images optimized for that specific device.
The resulting performance increases can be dramatic. During testing conducted with IBM, SNOW IO reduced the image weight of IBM WebSphere Commerce pages by 23 to 61 percent. While a number of factors contribute to the overall weight of a web page, in a recent survey of top responsive websites, we found that the size of website images is a significant contributor to lengthy page-load times on mobile devices. SNOW IO can reduce page weight from megabytes to kilobytes, and shave valuable seconds off overall page-load times.
Designing for optimal presentation of content on mobile devices is keeping website developers very busy. If you’re a publisher of dynamic news or manage a website on which people transact, ensuring it displays perfectly on every mobile device and all the major browsers (i.e. on tablets and mobile phones, as well as desktops) is essential. Responsive web design has emerged as a popular web design methodology to address this need.
But adopting responsive design is not without its challenges. For example, if you’re moving from an older website architecture, you’ll need to redesign the site from the ground up. Back in 2013, Forrester Research[i] reported that more than 40 percent of developers chose responsive design, or a variant of it, as part of their current web design approach. The same report also noted some degree of “hype and lack of understanding” associated with responsive design, especially with regard to best practices for its implementation. And, if best practices are not adopted, it’s quite likely a responsive website will not perform well on mobile devices across cellular networks — essentially defeating the purpose of using responsive design.
Optimizing website performance on mobile devices is a core focus of our development team, so we’ve been following the progress of responsive design with interest. A few months ago, we analyzed the performance of some popular responsive sites on smartphones and tablets and noticed some surprisingly long load times. Closer investigation revealed that large images were often the cause. This is the sort of problem that can be easily fixed with lightweight, server-based technology that can detect what sort of device is accessing the website, and then optimize accordingly.
That’s why we developed SNOW IO, which we just announced. SNOW IO is designed specifically for use with responsive websites, and can make a huge difference for your users if your site features a lot of images (think news blogs, ecommerce sites, etc.). When you add SNOW IO to your site, every image is automatically optimized for device, quality and speed. Then, when someone visits your site, device-specific, optimized images are served up for that visitor’s specific device. As a result, load time can be at least twice as fast because less network bandwidth and device CPU time are needed.
SNOW IO works with any responsive website development framework and requires minimal changes to your coding — generally, just the addition of some special tags to trigger the device-detection logic. Adding it is very easy since SNOW IO is a web server plug-in that’s compatible with Apache, Java and Microsoft servers. If you’re running IBM WebSphere, SNOW IO can be installed as a simple add-on module to IBM WebSphere Commerce. Commercial and OEM licenses are available.
To find out more, contact us and we’ll be happy to evaluate how SNOW IO can make a difference on your website.
[i] More Than Hype: Determining When To Use Responsive Web Design, Mark Grannan & Peter Sheldon, Forrester Research, November 2013