Performance Matters – the London web performance conference

This year Performance Matters, our annual web performance conference, took place on 11 May at Kings Place in London.

Free to attend, the event is our way of giving something back, both to our customers and to the wider web performance community. We bring together our own experts, external speakers and customers with a view to sharing insights and experiences.

Throughout, we try to strike a balance between practical tips to help people build faster websites and proving the business impact – the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of web performance.

Andy Davies, associate director for web performance at NCC Group, kicked things off with a talk that focused on why performance matters. He referenced the case studies that show the impact of speed on KPIs such as conversion and bounce rate. But he went on to say that it’s often not enough to rely on other people’s case studies. Every organisation is different, and we should be wary of sweeping generalisations.

Andy then used NCC Group’s Real User Monitoring (RUM) data to show us how page speed has affected different metrics in different ways for different businesses.

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Andy Davies on how speed relates to conversion and bounce rates

This dovetailed neatly with the next session – a lightning RUM demo from product owner Drew Post. He highlighted the Performance Impact Prediction feature, which looks at the relationship between speed and conversion rate, bounce rate and revenue. He also gave us a quick run through of anomaly detection and alerting.

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Drew Post on using RUM for anomaly detection and alerting

Next, there were three short presentations on the theme of solving real-world performance problems. We’re enormously grateful to Brian Hogg of Thomas Cook and James Walker of Redspa for their frank accounts of their respective web performance journeys. We also heard from Tony Wood, from our Strategy Consulting division, who spoke about the importance of a joined-up approach, looking at where performance sat in the wider digital picture.

There was also plenty of activity in the breakout area outside the main sessions, with lots of interest in our various ‘proofs of concept’, such as the third-party tag bubble chart developed by one of our performance consultants, Tim Daish.

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The tag bubble chart illustrates the size of third-party objects on your site and shows the point at which each resource loads

In the afternoon, Deane Hume of settled.co.uk took us step by step through his experience of building a progressive web app with HTTP/2, after which delegates had a choice.

One option was to get more on RUM from Drew Post and web performance expert Rob King. Rob showed us how to use RUM to identify anomalies, then use another tool (in our case Performance Analyser) to dive deeper into possible issues.

Meanwhile, senior web performance consultant Simon Hearne spoke about optimising for low-powered devices – how users of lower end smartphones are often forgotten in the web development process.

Finally, after a nice round-up of the day from Andy Davies, we finished with networking drinks, and it was great to see so many people stay on right to the end.

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We’d like to thank everyone who came – both as speakers and as delegates. You helped make it a successful and (we hope) enjoyable day, and we hope to see you again next year. We’d also like to thank Perry Dyball, who kindly promoted the event via the London Web Performance group.

If you have a web performance story to share and you’re interested in speaking at next year’s event, we’d love to hear from you.

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