Study Reveals Majority of Leading Business and Technology News Websites Using Responsive Design Perform Poorly on Mobile Devices

March 11th, 2015 by

Study concludes that responsive design is not meeting a crucial design objective for these publishers, and highlights the need for image size optimization for mobile users.

SAN MATEO, Calif.-March 12, 2015: A survey published today by Trilibis found that the majority of top news websites performs poorly when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. In an analysis of 100 business, technology and entertainment news websites that employ responsive design, Trilibis found that only 26 percent load in less than four seconds on a mobile device, and 27 percent take more than 8 seconds to load. These tests were conducted on a 4G network and should be considered “best-case” scenarios.

“Page loading time is an important part of the user experience for every website – but especially for news sites and blogs,” said Ted Verani, SVP of sales and marketing at Trilibis. “If a page loads slowly on mobile phones, visitors will go elsewhere for their news. Additionally, page-load time on mobile is now a key factor in determining search engine rankings, and also has bearing on the advertising value of a news blog or website.”

Summary findings

1. The page weights of the responsive news media sites in the survey were predominantly high
-  58 percent served pages of which images constituted more than half of overall page weight; 5 percent of the sample served home pages with page weight consisting of more than 90 percent images

2. 74 percent performed badly on mobile phones:
-  Only 26 percent provided acceptable page-load times
-  47 percent were bad (4 – 8 seconds to load)
-  27 percent were very slow (8 – 35 seconds to load)

3. Image optimization by device type can reduce image weight by 47–79 percent.

4. Server-side image optimization delivered compelling performance gains on mobile devices:
-  Average image weight was reduced by 79 percent
-  Page-load times were reduced by as much as 48 percent
Survey highlights the need for image size optimization for mobile users

Tests conducted by Trilibis determined that image size was the primary cause of the sluggish performance. By analyzing the page composition of each website, Trilibis determined that the mean home page weight of the sites in the sample was 2.4MB, with a median weight of 1.6MB. For desktop computers with high-bandwidth connections and abundant local resources (disk, RAM), page weight is not a major concern – but, for mobile devices, it certainly is.

While a number of factors can contribute to the overall weight of a web page, the size of images is typically one of the most important. This is particularly true for image-rich business and technology news websites. Trilibis examined the relationship between image weight and overall page weight of the 100 news websites in the sample, and found that images constituted more than 50 percent of overall page weight for 58 percent of the sample.

When it analyzed page-load times, Trilibis found this was acceptable (i.e. less than four seconds) for only 26 percent of the sites surveyed. Page-load times were between 4-8 seconds for 47 percent of the sample, and in excess of 8 seconds for 27 percent.

Device awareness + responsive design yields benefits

Trilibis also looked at whether image optimization could deliver a lower page weight without compromising user experience, and whether server-side processing could improve website performance on mobile devices. Before server-side optimization, the total image weight of all 64 responsive websites was 81MB. Trilibis’ device detection and image optimization technology dramatically reduced the page weight for every class of device: down to 43MB for desktop browsers, 18MB for tablets, and 17MB for smartphones (a reduction in page weight of 47 percent, 78 percent and 79 percent, respectively).

Ted Verani of Trilibis noted that, for many of the news websites in the sample, the use of responsive design was not meeting a crucial design objective: delivering an excellent experience for mobile visitors. “The news blogs and websites in this survey are typically heavily trafficked, highly dynamic, and image-rich. In terms of revenue generation, publishers are principally concerned with page views and engagement — both of which can be negatively affected by longer page-load times. In addition, publishers aim to cultivate reader loyalty, which could also be negatively affected by a sub-par user experience,” he said.

Recommendations for website designers

  1. Carefully managing image size is crucial to ensure responsive websites load quickly and deliver the best experience for mobile users.
  2. Delivering a truly exceptional user experience on the Web requires more than simply redefining layout and styling for the screen width of a particular device. A successful One Web strategy should optimize website assets for specific classes of mobile device.
  3. To optimize performance on mobile devices, consider the use of server-side technologies in conjunction with responsive design techniques. For this survey, Trilibis used SNOW IO (Software eNabling One Web), its server-side technology that adds automatic device detection and image optimization to responsive websites.

 

The survey is available for download at Trilibis.com. A Slideshare summary is also available.

 

About Trilibis

Trilibis® is an experienced player in the mobile and multi-device web development community. Our flexible technology solutions and software simplify multi-device web development for top consumer brands, such as Abbott, CNN, Fandango, Match.com and Univision, as well as enterprise software solutions like HP and IBM. SNOW®, the company’s core product, is the first markup-based, server-side responsive design technology for a true “One Web” experience. SNOW enables developers to create device-optimized, high-performance websites that work perfectly on all PCs, tablets and smartphones. Trilibis is a private, venture-backed company located in San Mateo, California. For more information, visit www.trilibis.com or follow @trilibismobile

Copyright 2015 Trilibis Inc. All rights reserved. Trilibis and SNOW are trademarks of Trilibis Inc. Other trademarks are registered trademarks and the properties of their respective owners.

The survey is available for download at Trilibis.com. A Slideshare summary is also available.

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