How we made the Klium website 100% faster with a simple modification

Sven August 29, 2016
How to make an site twice as fast with #HTTPS. Read the Klium case.
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A slow website means a lot of missed opportunities. Visitors quit before they see your products and you miss out on engagement and sales. The direct connection between page load time and conversion has been proven in many studies. For example, in this recent Mobify Report.

But also you might miss out on “Google love”. Google wants the best visitor experience, and speed is one of the ranking factors. A slow site means you’ll end up lower in the search results and, for example, will have to pay more for AdWords ads.

Optimizing the speed of websites is therefore one of the tasks online marketing consultants are engaged in.

That’s not a standard job. The speed is influenced by many factors and every website requires a different approach. The core question is always: what improvements yield the best return.

The Klium case is interesting for two reasons:

  • It shows how an impressive result can be achieved with relatively little effort.
  • It proves that you do not have to worry that a secure site (HTTPS) is slower than an HTTP site.

The Klium case

Klium is the biggest webshop for professional tools in the Netherlands and Belgium, and a client of Optimize since 2013. A highlight of our cooperation was winning the Thuiswinkel Award Publieksprijs, the Home Shopping Audience Award for the best webshop in the category Do-it-yourself 2016.

In 2015 Klium converted their website from HTTP to HTTPS. That is something we strongly recommend all our clients, because a secure website will become increasingly important as a ranking factor.

The Klium team to the awards assignment’s event

Detailed information about Google’s position on this and a checklist for converting your site to HTTPS can be found in our blog post HTTPS Everywhere.

The roadmap

  1. Determine the area for improvement
  2. In this case, we opted for a change in the server of the website. This has an advantage over other methods in that it can be quickly implemented and is relatively simple pre-testable.

  3. Implementation of HTTP/2
  4. HTTP/2 is the definitive answer to the question whether secure websites can be as fast as unprotected. It is based on the SPDY protocol, that was developed by Google to make secure websites faster. In the past, only six connections could be set up to a domain simultaneously. With SPDY this restriction has been lifted. It turned out to be such a great improvement that it’s now standard in the HTTP/2 protocol.

  5. Testing and measuring
    • Before the change, we have measured the speed of the website from the browsers* that Klium visitors use. For this, we have used the Pingdom tool.

    • Subsequently, we have set up a test environment to test the configuration without the users experiencing the consequences. We have performed the test with the same browsers (brand and version) that website visitors use, information that is available through Google Analytics. By testing – among other things – different types of pages and a number of transactions, we could get a good picture of the overall performance of the website after the final implementation.
    • Thanks to thorough preparation and a solid test design, the change went smoothly live and resulted straight away in an increase in speed by 100%.
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      * Not all browsers support HTTP / 2. Here is a list of the browsers that do and that don’t. Browsers that don’t support HTTP/2 fall back to HTTP/1. One of the things we’ve tested, is whether this fallback feature works in all cases.

Of course, not always can such a big result be achieved with a relatively simple procedure. In the case of Klium, the fact that many requests are carried out to one and the same domain was of influence.

As mentioned, every website is different and has its own problems and solutions. But implementing HTTP/2 is always a good thing. The protocol has been specifically designed to speed up HTTPS websites. And if your site is not secure yet, HTTP/2 offers an additional reason to move quickly on to HTTPS.