Building a performance culture

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Building a performance culture

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.