Optimizing Your Website for Increased Holiday Conversions

As the festive rush approaches, now’s the time to boost your website’s conversions and drive real performance throughout the holiday frenzy. 

Simone Basson & Brandon Janse Van Vuuren

Website optimization is the key to better user experiences, increased conversions, and gaining a competitive advantage that extends far beyond the holiday rush. It’s about positioning your brand for success and ensuring you make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

So where do you start?

1: Assess Core Web Vitals Performance:

Before delving into optimization strategies, it’s crucial to evaluate your website’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) – a set of standardized metrics developed by Google to help you understand how users experience your webpage. Assessing your CWV will help you identify where your website might have issues with loading performance, interactivity, or visual stability. 

Check out how  we managed to increase audience engagement and retention for Daily Maverick, which ultimately led to a +35% increase in user subscriptions in just one month. 

Focus on four key metrics: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures the time it takes to load your main above fold content (typically a hero banner or the first row of product tiles on a category page). Users expect to see this content first when clicking on a page. Laggy experiences due to a poor LCP score can lead to higher bounce rates and missed opportunities. Check out our blog to learn more; Demystifying Largest Contentful Paint.
  • First Input Delay (FID):  A poor FID score may indicate that your website has issues loading components intended for user inputs (elements that require a click, tap or keypress). A long delay after a user input can lead to user frustration and conversion drop-offs.  Check out our blog to learn more; Demystifying First Input Delay.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measure the visual stability of a webpage. Layout shifts disrupt the user experience and may deter conversions. Aim for a smooth and visually stable page load. Check out our blog to learn more; Demystifying Cumulative Layout Shift.
  • Interaction To Next Paint (INP): INP is a pending Core Web Vital metric that will replace First Input Delay (FID) in March 2024. Similar to FID, INP measures a page’s overall responsiveness by evaluating the responsiveness of all clicks, taps and keyboard interactions made within a page.

Use tools such as Google Search Console and PageSpeed Insights to gain insights into how your top website categories and products perform based on real-user field data. 

2: Tidy Up Your Code & Execute a Database Cleanup

To ensure smooth and efficient rendering, it’s essential to remove unused code, plugins and scripts from your website. Unnecessary components like outdated A/B testing scripts (e.g. Google Optimize that will sunset in September 2023) can impact load times and user experiences. 

A cluttered database can also slow down your website’s responsiveness. Regularly perform database cleanups to remove outdated or unnecessary data, ensuring efficient data retrieval and improved user experiences.

3: Optimize Images & CSS

Review your top-performing product categories and promotional landing pages. Ensure that images on these pages are lightweight and properly-sized for mobile devices. Load only the necessary CSS for these specific pages, reducing unnecessary downloaded bytes to enhance performance. 

Pro Tip: Avoid lazy loading your hero banner and top site logo. Only lazy load below fold content. 

4: Stress Test Servers in Advance

In preparation for peak shopping seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the Christmas shopping frenzy, conduct comprehensive stress tests on your servers. As mentioned in our recent peak performance tactics blog, you need to evaluate your website’s capacity to handle increased traffic and transactions without compromising performance. Consider investing in additional hosting capacity to accommodate the anticipated influx of visitors. Speak to your website host to find out how you can perform a stress test on your hosting server. 

User experience (UX) also plays a crucial role in driving conversions and attracting returning users. Think of your website as a culinary experience where Core Web Vitals are the essential ingredients and UX becomes the harmonious blend of flavors that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Together they create a digital feast that keeps visitors coming back for seconds. In a world where a single click can make or break a sale, ensuring a seamless and engaging shopping experience is paramount.

  • Personalization is Key. Personalization still emerges as the ultimate secret sauce. We see brands making the mistake of cramming too much information on a single page, usually the homepage, which leaves users confused and overwhelmed. Instead, trim the excess and focus on curating a tailored experience that enables users to glide through their shopping experience and checkout with ease. Create a personalized journey that feels more intuitive and tailored to your target audience. 
  • Craft an Experience that Delights and Sparks Joy. Tis’ the season to pull out all the stops by curating delightful interactions that keep your audience engaged. Experiment with interactive experiences such as a gift selection quiz or perhaps a playful game that curates the perfect wish list for your users or their loved ones. The goal is to keep your users engaged with your brand while injecting elements of festive fun and excitement.
  • Perfecting PDPs, Carts, and Checkouts. During the festive frenzy and flood of seasonal promotions, don’t neglect to pay attention to your product detail pages (PDPs), carts and checkout process. Consider investing time to design and test revamped PDPs ahead of the busy season. Elevate your product by crafting a compelling narrative that speaks to why users should choose your offering over competitors. By spotlighting the ‘why,’ you paint a compelling picture that guides users seamlessly from consideration to checkout.

In order to sustain success beyond the holiday season and continually improve website performance, you should:

  • Set performance budgets relative to your competitors. Instead of striving for flawless performance scores, evaluate your performance against top competitors. Tools such as Performance Budget Calculator can help estimate target page sizes and element sizes based on various network speeds.
  • Continuously measure and monitor your Core Web Vitals (CWV) and load speed performance. Use speed monitoring tools such as Webpagetest.org (and the WebPageTest API), SpeedCurve, Pingdom, Calibre, GTMetrix or Lighthouse LightWallet for performance budget tracking and monitoring your competition. These tools often have the capability to alert you when your website exceeds preset limits. 
  • Google’s Chrome User Experience (CrUX) dashboard offers real-time performance insights. Customize your dashboard via Looker Studio to benchmark against competitors to gain a comprehensive view of how your website’s performance compares to competitors in real-world scenarios. This empowers data-driven decisions for ongoing website enhancement.
  • Enhance your UX in a test and learn framework. For long term success, launch custom targeted A/B tests ahead of the festive season, ensuring that your improvement can apply to the day-to-day experience of your users.

By anchoring your strategies in tangible benchmarks, harnessing real-world insights, and embracing the art of UX evolution, your website will flourish beyond the festive season and leave users delighted, engaged, and returning for more.

Check out our Holiday Season Guide for more tips and best practices to stay ahead this festive season.


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