Thoughts on Web Performance Excellence

In writing the last post, I was thinking about what factors go into making the Web performance of a site "excellent". What defines in the minds of the sites users/customers/visitors/critics/competitors that the performance of a Web site is excellent?

These are usually judged by the standard factors:

  • Usability
  • Responsiveness
  • Availability
  • Traffic
  • Reliability
  • Security
  • Clarity

But within the company itself, how is the performance of their Web site judged to be excellent?

Right now, most people use the external metrics mentioned above to determine excellence. However, it must be remembered that there are two other critical factors that need to be considered when managing a large IT infrastructure.

  • Ease of Management. This is a metric that is often overlooked when determining if a Web site is excellent from an internal perspective. Often it is simply assumed that running a large IT infrastructure is incredibly complex; in most cases this is true. However, is it too complex too manage efficiently and effectively? How much time is spent finding the cause of problems as compared to resolving them?
  • Cost of Operation. This is always a big one with me. I look at sites that are trying to squeeze as much performance and availability out of their sites as they can. At some point, the business has to step back and ask, "How much does another half-second of speed cost us?". When this context is placed around the "need for speed", it may open a few eyes.

When this two critical internal factors are combined with the raw external data that can be collected, collated and analyzed, some other ideas come to the forefront as KPIs in Web Performance Excellence:

  • Cost Per Second. The cost of a Web site is usually only calculated based on the negative metric of how much it costs when the site is down. Well, how much does it cost when the site is up? Can that number be reduced?
  • Revenue By Speed. Which customers spend the most on your site: LAN, home-broadband, or dial-up?
  • Person-hours per day. How many person-hours per day does it take to manage your Web site?
  • True Cost of Performance Issues. When there is a performance issue, the cost is usually associated with lost revenue. Reverse that and ask how much did it cost in time and materials to resolve the issue.

The creation of new Web performance excellence metrics is crucial if companies truly want to succeed in the e-business arena. Business management has to demand that IT management become more accountable to the entire business, using metrics that clearly display the true cost of doing business on the Web.

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