Journal

Thoughtful stories and interesting conversations
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Choosing the best website analytics provider

We are strong believers in privacy, in fact, our entire company is built on putting digital privacy first. In every decision we make, we always have our users on top of mind.

As a newly founded company we are still in the early stage of building an audience. We try to do so by creating and sharing content. Like any other company, we are interested in collecting data so we can learn from our users so we can take better decisions.

In the search of the best website analytics provider we stumbled upon Fathom. We liked the company, a small private bootstrapped company, just like ours, with a service they said was cookie-free, GDPR compliant and privacy focused. Another feature that caught our eyes was called EU isolation, to ensure compliance with the Schrems II ruling. We were stoked so we took the next step and started a seven day trial to see if they delivered as promised.

What we value most about using Fathom

As you probably already figured out, we decided to use Fathom analytics as our primary provider for collecting data about our visitors. So, what do we value most so far and how does this impact our users? One thing I really dislike about the web nowadays is the cookie consent dialogs we see all over the web. Because Fathom is cookie free, and we don't have any other cookies we don't need consent dialog. Only that feature makes me feel like , here take my money. Performance is also something that is really important to us and the script we needed to add is small and loads fast. Fathom also collects and showcases actionable data only, we don't need excessive reports, we just want the highlights, the key things about our website traffic so you can quickly adjust your content.

I hope you enjoyed this little story and that you learned something new. If you decide to walk the same path as we did, towards a more privacy-first website, give Fathom a try and see what you think.

Analysts at Portent found that conversion rates more than doubled when improving Page Load Speed from two seconds to below one second. They also found that if your Page Load Speed is over five seconds, the effect of speeding up the page load a second or two is close to none.

There are many practical tips on the web on how to speed up your online presence, such as adding CDN, minifying JavaScripts and so on, but I would like to add another angle to this topic. Before you can create a sustainable performance improvement, you need to create a performance culture within your organization. If you don't succeed with explaining why it’s important with speed and performance, you will end up with a project filled with quick fixes and employees that are happy just to have reached the short-term goal of the project. A year later you will most likely find yourself trying to fix all the performance issues that’s been created the past year. By doing performance fixes once a year your site will perform badly for eleven months out of twelve when you really needed a good performance every day for 365 days every year. By building a solid performance culture you have a good chance of getting things right from the start.

Here are some tips on how you can start building your performance culture.

Make performance count by doing your homework

Educate top management WHY speed matters. Without educated leaders you will not get the tools you need to succeed. Top management like figures and spreadsheets. It's quite simple to transform conversions to $ and there’s a lot of good examples of what speed can do for your revenue. Don´t forget to count the $ you will save by not needing to add an extra server when you web traffic increases.

Speed is a feature

When you create a feature and find a bug you will most likely fix it before launching. When a feature is working, but perhaps a bit slower than you hoped for, you might go ahead with the launch and decide to fix performance later. Don´t do that. Add optimizing for speed as a natural step in your developing process by adding a performance budget to your project. Set a maximum value for page loads for every webpage on your site or find your own KPIs that is relevant to your team and project. The key is making it measurable and actionable and to follow up as you develop new features.

Don't let time and customers get in your way

You probably have some guidelines and processes to follow in your team but when a customer needs that feature you are working on yesterday, the process is quickly forgotten. If you done the first and the second bullet above right, you will have a product owner or an executive holding your back, otherwise you’re left alone handling the customers demands. Stay strong and explain the importance of performance when a customer is aiming for your head.

Have a lightweight description of your process

It’s more easy to communicate with people if you have a simple way to describe how your team operates. For example, we like to use these three principles when explaining our process.

  • Make it work
  • Make it fast
  • Make it beautiful

Create a winning culture

Without winners in your team, performance will never be important enough. You can probably do okey without good performance, but you will not win any trophies with a poor performance. Winners always walks that extra mile. Give the team the confidence they need to win and explain why winning is important.

Find your competitor

Always try to improve by beating your latest figures but don’t forget to find a competitor to outperform. It’s a nice feeling when winning against a competitor even if the other part doesn’t know that you are competing.

Celebrate

Don’t forget to celebrate progress and do a retrospective once in a while where you spend some extra time talking about performance. It gives you energy for the upcoming work.

How to ensure performance

At Nimble Initiatives, we develop a platform where speed and performance are at the very core of the product. With no legacy we can add speed as a vital metrics without compromising. But how do we measure speed and how can we collect relevant data over time? And maybe more interesting, how are we performing compared to other technologies and services?

Measuring speed and performance can be quite tricky because you often have poor insights about the end user and the environment in which the user operates. Fortunately, Google has done a great job addressing this issue by introducing CWV (Core Web Vitals) and adding CWV to their PageRank algorithm on May 28,2020. One good thing with CWV is that Google helps us collect field data, and the Core Web Vitals Technology Report makes it easier for us to benchmark our own performance. In order to make it easier to measure and compare data Google has set boundary values for what’s a good performance, a performance in need of improvements and what’s a bad performance.

Today CWV conducts these three metrics:

LCP (largest contentful paint): The amount of time to render the largest content element visible in the viewport, from when the user requests the URL. The largest element is typically an image or video, or perhaps a large block-level text element. This is an important metric because it gives to the user a fast and good page experience.

FID (first input delay): The time from when a user first interacts with your page (when they clicked a link, tapped on a button, and so on) to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. This measurement is taken from whatever interactive element that the user first clicks. This is especially important on pages where the user is requested to perform any action.

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page. The score is zero to any positive number, where zero means no shifting and the larger the number, the more layout shift on the page. This is important because having elements shift while a user is trying to interact with the page is a bad user experience. If you can't seem to find the reason for a high value, try interacting with the page to see how that affects the score.

These measurements are evaluated against the following boundary values set by Google:

At Chrome Dev Summit 2021 Google revealed some new performance metrics for potential inclusion in Web Vitals down the road. They are: • Responsiveness – the idea is to better capture the end-to-end latency of individual events and offer a more holistic picture of the overall responsiveness of a page throughout its entire lifetime • Smoothness –this metric will capture how smooth content animations and scrolling works on the site

Core Web Vitals Technology Report

Let’s check the performance metrics for React which is one of the most common JavaScript libraries on the market. Out of 518901 tested 31,8 % having good Core web Vitals on desktop, and 24,5 % having good Core web Vitals on mobile. Even that it is possible to create a fast web site using React it’s sad to see that 3 out of 4 fail delivering a good user experience on mobile devices.

If we check with some of the most common CMS, the picture is almost repeating itself, but the vendors are working hard for hitting better scores. In this case Wix has done huge improvements this year. And once again, you can’t determine by this graph which CMS delivering the best Web Vitals. This is only a summary, and we believe you can build a well performing website using any CMS, but at the same time it puts a finger on the ecosystem related to each CMS. Also note that this figures doesn’t measure the editor environment, that is a completely different story.

Bootstrap is another common framework used by millions around the world. 36,1 % on desktop and 28 % on mobile are having a good experience.

What´s our take on Core Web Vitals?

In total Core Web Vitals are good metrics. When building our own platform, we are constantly monitoring our Core Web Vitals. It’s one out of many tests we do constantly. But a platform’s performance will only take you so far, you still need to build your own solution based on any platform. That’s why one of the keys for us is to never hinder developers in any way from doing their own magic. Our biggest take on performance spells knowledge and that’s why you will be able to use whatever technology you like when building your solution using our platform.

Conclusion

Google is making the web industry invest in the know-how of user experience, by defining the standard for good performance and adding boundary values to the metrics, including them into their PageRank algorithm. They give us the tools to learn and the ability to benchmark our progress with colleagues in the market. But remember, even a good technology/platform can be messed up so make sure to test your performance continuously or work with a well trusted partner.

Further reading

Does your website contribute to global warming?

The Carbon footprint of our daily internet habits accounts for 3,7 % of our global greenhouse emissions. It is at the same level as the aviation industry and these emissions are predicted to double by 2025. The global IT sector electricity demand ranks number 3 behind China and US and it's estimated that communication technology will use 14 percent of global electricity by 2040, up from just under 4 percent in 2020.

So how much pollution does your website contribute with? There is an easy way to get that information, just enter the URL to your website at websitecarbon.com and you will get a quick overview of your performance.

An average web page produces 1.76 grams CO2 per page view. For a website with 10,000 monthly page views, that's 211 kg CO2 per year.

Okey, I get the point. My website contributes to the global warming but what can I do about it? We run a business and we need to have website with lots of visitors. That is kind of the purpose having a website.

In the context of digital services, we believe speed is one of the key solutions reducing our emissions and saving our planet from global heating. Speed doesn't only save our planet, it also adds a lot more advantages to your business and your customers. We have listed some of the advantages below.

Upsides with speed

When we started developing our new platform, we put speed as a top priority. How can we build a web-based platform without any spinners and constant waiting? When we were talking about speed, we started leaning towards how much weight (Kbyte) we needed to transport and that led to investigating the upsides with a Fast & Furious UI. If you are focusing on creating a fast website you will get a positive side effect, your site will produce less energy because you are decreasing the weight of your web pages, simplifying the complexity of your site and lowering the physical distance between your servers and your main audience. Besides decreasing our environmental impact, we found a lot of other short-term benefits as well.

  • Speed is a feature. It gives the user a feeling of productivity and in the end a more enjoyable user experience.
  • Ranking higher on Google. Google ranks fast websites higher.
  • Built for scale. The solution to a bottleneck doesn't have to be scaling up the hardware. It's time for a different approach and to minimise the data. From 2017 to 2021, the median size of a web page increased by roughly 40-45 percent and the amount of JavaScript increased with 50 %. Have the websites really gotten 40-45 percent better?
  • Complexity. Less code equals less complexity, and it leads to a more stable product with less bugs.
  • $ saved. When it comes to money saved, there is a huge upside. Calculating the potential money saved in the cloud demands hard work. You need to do your own math but bandwidth is one simple parameter driving cost, but you can save big numbers if reducing hardware and the use of different services in the cloud.

We think it's time for a paradigm change where we start building our digital services for speed! Everyone is the winner except perhaps the cloud vendors. If you are creating digital services, be sure to build for speed and if you offer digital services to customers, be sure to add speed to your feature list.

We will continue to publish our thoughts and knowhow on this topic in our upcoming posts. Who knows, it might be a little more practical and techie.

Stay tuned!

Further reading

  1. bbc.com - Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think
  2. sciencedirect.com - Assessing ICT global emissions footprint
  3. websitecarbon.com
  4. httparchive.org - Page Weight

Good Vibes! Our Team is Growing, and we are Live with our First Internal Release!

First, we want to welcome our newest team member onboard! Frontend developer and UX designer Christian Andersson is the fourth player on the team and in just a few weeks together with the rest of us, he's started to create an awesome concept of the UI that we are all really excited about! We can't wait to share this with all you guys so stayed tuned for an upcoming sneak peek!

Second, we have closed our first development cycle called "Sensations" and our website nimbleinitiatives.com is now spinning nice and smoothly on our own platform. Once we're finished with our next cycle "Patterns" we are hoping to launch for a first closed technical beta. Interested? Give us a holler!

What is Holding Space?

So what does it mean to hold space? It is a profound phrase, used in a vast range of areas ranging from philosophy to organisation management. Holding space means being present, open, allowing, and protective of the needs of others. If you haven't heard the phrase before, make sure to look it up, there are several interesting articles on the subject.

At Nimble Initiatives we believe that holding space is the very key to stimulate innovation and unleash the full potential of both an individual and an idea. By having trust in self-organisation and resist the urge to control the creative work of others we believe that great things will come your way.

That's why all our initiatives get total freedom and anyone who feels drawn to the idea can contribute in any way they see fit. So we hold space and let the team work their magic.

And please enjoy Harrison Owen's beautiful and vivid explanation of Holding Space

"Holding space is an act that is at once totally present and totally invisible. It is, like the Tao, an activity that is characterized by paradox. Holding space is about resting in the trust that self-organization, that force which created the universe and brought us to this point, will continue to work its magic. To prepare yourself to submit to the power of self-organization, you must let go of outcomes. You must breathe life into the principle that "whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened." We learn to let our desires fall away and confront what is present in the space, and what is real and living before us. To hold space is to rest in the chaos that is darkness; a darkness that represents a vast field of unknown potential. It is this field that you are inviting to hum. From this field understanding will blossom, light will emerge, possibilities will grow."