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Site Speed and Why It Matters for Your Reviews Program

Feb 27, 2023

Site Speed and Why It Matters for Your Reviews Program

Lindsay Kolinsky

Senior Marketing Lead

When it comes to determining the effectiveness of your reviews program, it’s crucial to give significant consideration to site speed. A slow-loading website can dramatically impact the user experience, leading to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. 

And with nearly 70% of consumers saying that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer, it’s not hyperbole to say that speed, or lack thereof, kills. 

Reinforcing this point further, Ben Lord, Founder of Shopify-focused web design firm, Softlimit, reminds us, “Site speed equals profits – this can’t be understated. Reducing page load by even 0.1 seconds can increase revenue by 2% (and improve SEO to boot)!” 

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between site speed and an effective reviews program. By selecting a reviews platform that understands the critical role speed plays in driving customer engagement, you can avoid slow site speeds without sacrificing your program’s functionality and flexibility.

Before we take a look at some of the ways you can optimize site speed and maximize the full potential of your reviews program, let’s examine the relationship between site speed and your bottom line. 

How Slow Site Speed Hurts Your Bottom Line

Site speed is one of the most important indicators for measuring user satisfaction, so it’s no surprise that it also has a profound impact on bounce and conversion rates. According to Google, a site that takes five seconds to load can expect a bounce rate 90% higher than a site with a one-second page load speed. 

Famously, one study estimated that a one-second increase in page load speeds for Amazon’s online storefront would cost the company over $1.6 billion annually. This is an extreme example, but it’s one that illustrates just how important it is to optimize third-party apps like customer review platforms.

As Brian Anderson, Founder and CEO at headless commerce platform, Nacelle, notes, “Findings like these reinforce what we are seeing in terms of the impact of this phenomenon between site speed and profits. At Nacelle, we see this with our merchants, who regularly achieve significant conversion rate improvement after utilizing our fast-loading composable technology.”

With all this in mind, here are some tips to ensure your site speed is enabling you to meet the needs of your customers and scale your business. 

How Brands Can Optimize Site Speed

One of the biggest contributors to slow-loading sites is bloatware (unnecessary applications and services). For example, it’s not uncommon for brands to add new features to their sites in an ad hoc fashion, often following current trends that highlight the “unmissable” benefits of a certain plugin. Over time, these extra functionalities add up, resulting in several seconds of additional load time in exchange for a small benefit that the average user may never notice.

Choosing the right apps is a key factor in optimizing site speed. While many apps offer similar or overlapping features, not all of them respect the need to provide a fast and seamless user experience.

Some apps and plugins are heavier and more resource-intensive than others, especially if they’re meant to process large amounts of data. As a result, installing too many of them can drastically reduce your page load speeds. Apps can also conflict with each other, resulting in errors and slowdowns.

As Flynn McFarlane, CEO of ecommerce growth agency, Arkhi, says, “When evaluating any new app or integration, it’s important you understand the speed impacts it will have. Wherever possible, try and utilize one app for multiple features or build it into the theme natively.”

Similarly, removing bloatware is a simple and effective way to speed up your website by reducing the resources that need to be loaded when a user visits the site.

However, even if you’ve removed certain applications from your infrastructure, that doesn’t necessarily mean they no longer influence your site speed. If you’ve removed the apps but not their references, the code for those features is still being loaded on every page, requiring an HTTP request that in turn requires a response. The more requests that are required to load the page, the longer that page takes to render fully. 

Removing any apps, plugins, or scripts that are no longer in use frees up valuable resources and improves site performance, benefiting your users and your reviews program.

Why You Should Consider Site Speed When Evaluating Reviews Platforms

While reviews are a key factor in establishing customer trust and driving conversions, displaying so many customer photos, videos and widgets could come at the expense of an enjoyable user experience by impacting page load time. Therefore, when choosing a reviews platform for your site, it’s important to consider not only features and functionality, but also performance and speed to ensure your reviews aren’t negatively impacting your conversion rate.

At Okendo, we achieve this balance by generating and highlighting powerful social proof via streamlined, optimized review widgets that don’t put an unnecessary strain on your website’s load times. Okendo is proud to be one of the only customer review apps to achieve the highest score on the 2022 YOTTAA 3rd Party Performance Index, indicating little to no negative performance impact on sites that have installed our software.

YOTTAA performance impact ratings

It’s also why we designed our app from the ground up to function with headless architecture. This setup allows for far more flexibility than full-stack architecture by separating the functions of an e-commerce web store’s front end from the back end. 

Combined with a “lazyload” approach that delays the initialization of resources until they’re actually needed, headless architecture results in lightning-fast load times — a strategy that most other reviews platforms aren’t able to take advantage of. 

For an example of the benefits of combining headless architecture with a powerful review system, consider Ballsy, a men’s skin care brand. Ballsy leveraged the seamless integration between Okendo and Nacelle to create a faster-loading storefront while simultaneously generating new reviews and increasing conversions. 

With their headless implementation, Ballsy was able to lower page load speeds from 15.8 seconds to a stunning 1.4 seconds, while simultaneously increasing their conversion rate by 28% and reducing their network payload by 50%. These adjustments allowed Ballsy to optimize site speeds while ramping up reviews and user-generated content, turning it into one of the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify Plus. 

As Jonathan Geyer, Senior Developer at Nacelle, puts it, “The Okendo widgets work well in a headless build because the module allows you to easily embed the script and CSS into the built code instead of requiring an additional request on page load. Okendo really exceeds our expectations when it comes to Nacelle partner integrations.” 

Choose a Review Platform that Understands the Importance of Speed

As Robert Buffone, Yottaa’s Founder and CTO says, “A slow ecommerce site is a conversion killer, and when pages take longer than four seconds to load, over 60% of shoppers bounce. You shouldn’t have to choose between functionality and site speed – you can have both.”

And that’s exactly what we set out to provide with Okendo. We’re committed to providing an unrivaled feature-rich reviews platform that leverages insightful zero-party data and social proof to generate revenue without negatively impacting performance. When Softlimit had to recommend a reviews platform for their client, TAFT, they knew the brand’s high price point would require a large amount of enthusiastic social proof to build trust and improve conversion. And with Okendo Reviews, site-speed compatibility didn’t have to impact their recommendation. Lord had this to say: “For a high-quality, artisan brand like TAFT, reviews can make all the difference. Okendo’s stability, best-in-class features, unparalleled support, and user-friendly interface made it the obvious choice for our recommendation.”

Site speed reviews

Thanks to Okendo’s rigorous and continuous optimization practices, businesses can foster trust, nurture a sense of community, capture useful buyer insights, and increase conversions through the power of authentic customer reviews and user-generated content — all without worrying about slow loading times cutting into their bottom line. 

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