Ten Questions to Ask Your Digital Agency About Website Performance

by Cogworks

Website performance is more than just speed. It is the public perception of your brand, your team, and you. Even the best content is unlikely to be effective if nobody is willing to wait around to read it.

Whether you’re working on an entire website relaunch or focusing on a specific application feature, consider asking your digital agency these key questions to ensure you don’t lose your user to a competitor over a one-second delay in page load time!

1. Why does my website performance matter?

Your digital agency should explain that performance matters because it makes and saves you money. Good performance helps to reach your specific goals through higher conversion rates, improving brand awareness and putting you above competitors, whilst smart optimisation of current solutions could generate savings for you instantly. A good agency will have a passion for this topic and should be making time for these conversations with you from the start.

2. What is website performance?

Your agency should be able to describe performance as uptime and site speed. Good uptime means your site works every time and under any circumstance.

The goal of your agency should be to achieve one hundred per cent uptime but this can of course depend on the external services used in your website solution. Your agency should engage in securing a high level of site uptime through the usage of zero-downtime deployments, multi-tenant or multi-cloud solutions.

High uptime and site speed will ensure your users are more likely to take targeted action because the specific pages, actions, and paths are stable and fast.

3. Do you treat website performance as a feature?

Whether you’re embarking on a full rebuild or just simply working to improve a key area of your existing site, your agency is going to be repeatedly producing code, architecture, images, forms, videos, deployments, and so on…

Every addition is a potential window to slower performance. A forward-thinking agency will treat web performance testing as a fixed feature throughout the development, staging, and production phase.

4. What does average website performance look like?

Your agency should be able to tell you the minimum expectations for website performance and understand the industry average expectations not only from your users… but from other sources too, like Google. There are a variety of market average reporting tools your agency should use to help you understand how to set the bar for your expectations for things such as page load times on mobile and desktop.

5. What are my specific performance requirements?

An agency that cares about performance should ask you to collaborate on this question. To know your performance requirements, your agency must understand what drives your business and customer behaviour, and should pair this with in-depth analytics research.

Your agency should be able to assign performance criteria to the planned features of your website to give you impact-driven results. A digital agency that wants to see your clients’ client benefit will proactively start predicting the most stressed parts of your website (like the areas expected to see the most traffic for example), and therefore your performance target.

6. How do you decide which metrics to monitor for my website performance?

To define the metrics that will be collected and compared throughout the project, your agency should align any performance history research that is available for your site with the specific business goals that you and your agency have collaborated to define. These aspects should be measured, understood, and optimised throughout the project cycle not only to meet the industry-standard but to make room for the expected user behaviour for each new feature.

7. How do you measure my website performance?

An agency who understands the importance of modern web performance testing will know how to use a variety of complex tools to conduct advanced, automated performance investigations. This type of web performance testing ensures that tests and optimisations are carried out consistently throughout staging, development, and production which means better accuracy and control of the development process.

8. How do you use my web performance testing report results throughout the project?

You should be informed of the performance goals you are working towards, so don’t be afraid to ask for the reports.

An agency that takes website performance testing seriously should offer email reports with an easy-to-understand narrative. Your digital agency should be well-versed in interpreting these results and spotting opportunities for improvement.

Their development team should use this data to prevent or stop deployments which are not meeting the expectations and apply improvements to code when they’re needed.

9. What impact could the next performance improvement bring?

The truth of the matter is that your agency should be able to base this answer on the data and metrics gathered for your project, but a performance improvement could bring better scalability of the system, better user experience, potential profit and… savings.

Consistent and accurate performance testing from your development team ensures improvements are made regularly. Meticulous testing will ultimately produce a live site without performance issues that can be costly for you to rectify.

10. How can you optimise my site performance after we stop working together?

An agency who has worked to communicate well with you on this subject throughout the project (and hopefully developed a great working relationship), will be able to advise you on tools you can use, or provide more in-depth actions that can be taken to keep your website performing well all year round.

A good digital agency will have a dedicated performance and support plan available for you to utilise when the site is launched (for continuous reporting and improvement implementations), that is there to keep your site up and applications performing as well as possible for your business.