With more than half of all small business in the U.S. conducting business over the web, the need to keep your ecommerce website secure and performing optimally is more important than ever. Users expect safe online shopping environments while at the same time being increasingly intolerant of any delays. Ecommerce providers thus have the seemingly contradictory task of ensuring their websites are fast and always available, while being fully secure.
Balancing Safety and Speed
The need to secure websites from attacks has led to the utilization of various attack mitigation strategies that typically involve the introduction of intermediate appliances into the client’s network, or the rerouting of website traffic through a cloud-based inspection and scrubbing service. While this usually leads to more secure traffic and less likelihood of downtime, it also means that traffic has to travel further, through more intermediary nodes, and thus takes longer to get from endpoint to endpoint. The end result is that traffic is safer but, unfortunately, also slower.
Latency Equals Loss
No one likes slow websites. A website’s ability to load its ecommerce pages quickly has a direct impact on sales, and ultimately, on the bottom line. Page load times can impact the overall customer experience, as well as SEO optimization, since page speed determines your ranking when users search in a browser.
In fact, research has shown a very real correlation between website loading times and page abandonment. For example, a recent study showed that after about four seconds of waiting, around 25% of visitors will leave.
A different study has pointed out that a one-second delay in page load results in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in conversions. Another way of looking at this is that an ecommerce company can increase its revenue by 7% by speeding up its website by just one second.
Solving the Latency Problem with a CDN
Put simply, a content delivery network (CDN) is a network of datacenters than can cache, optimize, and serve content from the servers in closest physical proximity to website visitors. It avoids bottlenecks near the hosting server by allowing visitors to access a cached copy of the data nearest to them, instead of all visitors simultaneously accessing the same central server.
Since most of the loading time of a website involves waiting for the content to download, using a CDN can significantly reduce load times by serving cached content from the server nearest to your visitor. Furthermore, by reducing the amount of data requests that your origin server has to serve, your server’s workload is greatly reduced. Overall, this significantly improves the performance of your website, giving your visitors a very fast experience, and thus improving conversion and your bottom line.
Maximizing Website Availability and Resources with Load Balancing
While website optimization typically focuses on the leg of data’s journey between the CDN and the website visitor, there is also room to improve the back half of data’s journey between the CDN and the origin servers. For this, companies should look to solutions with integrated load balancers for intelligent traffic routing.
The benefits of these solutions include site failover to maximize availability, and local or global load balancing to maximize resource utilization. Failover helps ensure websites are available for business by routing requests away from offline servers or data centers to those that are available to process requests, while local and global load balancing distributes traffic away from heavily burdened servers to their more idle counterparts so that web environments are performing to their highest potential.
With an ever-increasing number of companies doing business online, ecommerce websites should be looking to improve their visitors’ web experience in order to maximize revenue. By leveraging a CDN with integrated load balancing, companies can optimize their websites’ performance, ensure the availability of their online applications, and maximize the return on their existing website infrastructure. This not only enhances the user experience of their visitors, but also increases conversion rates and drives up revenues.
This blog was written by Nabeel Hasan Saeed, Product Marketing Manager at Imperva Incapsula.
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