Mobile performance and usability of Fortune 500 companies

How cocky can I, as a Scandinavian, be of our accomplishments and our impression on the global mobile industry? I’m of course thinking about Nokia and Ericsson! Both previously makers of mobile handsets, and nowadays making magic on the backend of cellular network technology, worldwide.

Do we still have that digital head start that we fought so hard for in the 1990s? Obviously, this blog post won’t give a definitive answer to that question. But this is my contribution to the subject of an eventual Scandinavian lead in the mobile industry and perspective on mobile tech, usability and the need for speed. How do Sweden as a nation compare to the US regarding the, once again, popular concept of “digitization”. Well, this post is a attempt to start comparing, and to give you as a reader some data to begin benchmarking your website against the really big companies of Fortune 500, and the biggest ones of Sweden.

My book, Web Strategy for Everyone, deals with the issues of both speed and user needs when on mobile. Also a lot on design principles such as mobile first, responsive web design, adaptive, single page applications (SPA) and progressive web apps. Buy the book Web Strategy for Everyone directly from the publisher Intranätverk.

This comparison is how well major Swedish companies embraced usability and website speed. Today, we’re in a mobile first setting. Often attributed to the release of the Apple Iphone back in 2007. Almost ten years ago Apple contributed to – in a major way – making the Web accessible to mobile, for the masses!

Benchmarking method: OMX Stockholm 30 duel with the financial magazine Fortune’s list of America’s 500 largest companies

Since Sweden is a pretty small country, I have selected the 30 biggest companies on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2016, the so-called OMXS30. In the contending ring corner, for the US, is the 500 largest US companies according to the financial magazine Fortune. Biggest based on their annual turnover. No method is perfect, this one is no exception. But on some level, this comparison is the giants from one country to the giants from another.

Since the company Atlas Copco is listed twice on the Swedish list, there’s just 29 companies. The same problem exists multiple times with the Fortune 500, for instance the different incarnations of Time Warner, and others. In addition, this type of test is blocked by the security settings of some websites. That’s why the Fortune 500 simply became “Fortune 425” in this evaluation. Still, I think there is probably enough data to suffice as an acceptable average. But of course, it’s up to you to reflect upon the precision and if it is good enough for what you decisions you intend to make based on these data.

Measuring rod = Google PageSpeed API

The analysis is based on Google’s API called PageSpeed. If you’d like to make spot checks on any single webpage Google’s PageSpeed Insights web service will prove useful. The difference is that, with the API, one can automate checks of up to 25,000 pages per day. Thus one can approach a more quantitative analysis.

For those of you who want to know how much data is the basis of the analysis, there were 2,155 webpages evaluated for the 29 Swedish websites. For the American companies I evaluated 28,162 webpages from the 425 websites.

The average values were then stored as per website, which you can inspect in the Excel file linked below. After this, all Swedish companies’ averages were calculated, as well as all US companies averages, in order to be compared. It’s the way you should regard the tables below – as averages first calculated per site, then combined averages for OMXS30 as well as for F500. This double average calculation is necessary since the sampling of the websites differed.

Below is how an average webpage looks like. Besides Pagespeed and Usability, low numbers are generally a good thing.

Measure Result OMXS30 Result F500
Pagespeed 58,7 av 100 57,1 av 100
Usability 91,6 av 100 88,4 av 100
Javascript 1 023 Kb 1 152 Kb
Adobe Flash 0 Kb 476 Kb
Images 750 Kb 720 Kb
CSS 530 Kb 352 Kb
HTML 138 Kb 112 Kb
Text (textResponseBytes) 44 Kb 74 Kb
Other (otherResponseBytes) 36 Kb 46 Kb
Request size 8,1 Kb 11,2 Kb
Number of resources 49,2 66,3
Number of static (cacheable) resources 33,8 41,2
Number of Javascript resources 16 21,7
Number of CSS resources 3,8 6,1
Number of hosts 11,2 15,4

Potential for improvement

As a bonus, when using Google PageSpeed via the API we get figures on what can be improved. In this comparison, the relative improvement is Google’s suggestion to the average Fortune 500 company website. Averages are calculated just like mentioned above.

Low figures are to be preferred, it means that the craftsmanship of the website is a professional one. The measures are pretty much obvious to the web professional, but please refer to Google PageSpeed API dokumentation for reference.

Measure Resultat OMXS30 Resultat F500
MinimizeRenderBlockingResources 38,3 43,3
OptimizeImages 13,6 12,0
LeverageBrowserCaching 13,1 17,8
EnableGzipCompression 12,2 13,3
MainResourceServerResponseTime 5,9 3,4
UseLegibleFontSizes 5,0 8,3
SizeTapTargetsAppropriately 4,0 4,4
PrioritizeVisibleContent 4,0 2,4
MinifyJavaScript 2,0 2,8
ConfigureViewport 1,4 2,4
SizeContentToViewport 1,4 2,0
AvoidLandingPageRedirects 0,9 0,7
MinifyHTML 0,6 0,3
MinifyCss 0,5 0,9
AvoidPlugins 0,0 0,0
AvoidInterstitials 0,0 0,0

Being a Swede, I might after all be a tiny-wee bit biased, but I’d like to claim that the almost imperceptible country of Sweden came out as a the winner of this comparison.

What do you think? Give me your best counter-arguments in the comments! 😛

Some things on these lists are easier to resolve than others. When you do this kind of evaluation on your own website, you might find a treasure trove of easy improvements. Such as, on this list, we find enabling GZip and leveraging browser cache early on in the list. Some things are very easy to resolve. For instance, dramatically improving those two takes about an hour each. Its all about the configuration of the website in the file .htaccess for WordPress, or web.config in a Microsoft environment, for instance.

More about the evaluation

For those of you who want to inspect the data behind the result, I have compiled an Excel file. In the Excel file you can filter individual websites’ performance, or comparing metrics for the different websites. Check out the Excel file here

You’d like to learn more about web performance?

Want to learn more about the variety of tools? Well, I’m pretty biased but perhaps you’d like the book Web Strategy for Everyone. In addition to its introduction to the Web, information architecture and web design principles It also discusses web performance and tooling.

In stark contrast to most English books, Web Strategy for Everyone is more dense, rich in insight, less repetitive. That’s how we Scandinavians roll 😛

Buy the book about web strategy and performance optimization from the publisher intranätverk

Challenge: Earn your discount 🙂

If you’d like a coupon code worth 25 % discount on all books at Intranätverk’s bookstore, all you have to do is figure out below Python rebus ( yeah, it’s a simple concatenation):

‘{}{}{}’.format('friends', 'of', 'intranatverk')

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