Page Load Time Slow; Are CDN's to Blame?

Maintaining consistently low page load times are important in providing the optimal customer experience on a website.

One method of doing is through the use of a content delivery network, a system of distributed servers that deliver webpages and other web content (from Javascript and CSS to images) to a user based on the geographic location of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server. But do they work? According to new research from Radware, a provider of application delivery and application security solutions, the answer is a resounding no.

Radware recently released its latest quarterly study titled "State of the Union: Ecommerce Page Speed & Web Performance, Spring 2014" and found that while 75% of the top 100 retail websites employ a Content Delivery Network (CDN), the median home page takes a full second longer to become interactive than the median page that does not use a CDN.

Radware's latest research shows that the median time to interact (TTI) for CDN enabled sites was 5.7 seconds compared to the median TTI of 4.7 for non-CDN websites.

The study revealed several other interesting data points, including:

- The median web page has slowed down by 47% since 2012.
- The median page takes 5.4 seconds to become interactive.
- The top 100 sites are slower than the top 500.

"This finding should not be interpreted as a criticism of content delivery networks," says Kent Alstad, vice president of acceleration for Radware. "Instead, it should create awareness that CDNs address just one aspect of the performance problem. Web pages today are bigger and more complicated than ever, and CDNs can only partially mitigate this growth and complexity. Site owners need to be aware that there are performance issues caused by the pages themselves, and these performance issues require additional solutions."

"While a one-second delay in interactivity does not seem significant, it can actually produce a significant negative impact on key performance indicators," continues Alstad. "Our previous studies have shown that a one-second delay has increased bounce rates by 8.3%, decreased page views by 9.3% and even showed a 2.1% decrease in cart size, all of which can be detrimental to an eRetailer."