Published September 2016
Parenthood is full of challenges, and when a child gets sick in the middle of the night, parents need answers — fast. In these moments, and during many other everyday moments, parents turn to WhatToExpect.com for help.
What to Expect is operated by Everyday Health, Inc. and is based on the What to Expect book series, made most famous by What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which holds the record for being the longest-standing book on The New York Times Best Seller list. The site’s mission is to create happy, healthy pregnancies and happy, healthy babies.
Geared toward a millennial audience, 90 percent of What to Expect readers access the site on a mobile device. Diane Otter, Editor in Chief and Vice President, says, “On mobile in particular, our users engage with our brand in a cross-platform environment, from the web to within apps, to search, newsletters, wearables and more. Our products and content simply must perform optimally on every mobile device in order for us to succeed.”
Understanding the impact of site speed
In late 2015, the company met with Google to discuss site speed and its impact on their business. They learned that 53 percent of visits are abandoned if a site doesn't load within three seconds,1 and that mobile sites that load within five seconds are projected to earn up to 2x higher mobile ad revenue than sites that load within 19 seconds.2
We were in the middle of feature prioritization, and the Google presentation helped us make important decisions about improving our site performance. We continue to collaborate with them by email, phone calls and Google Hangouts. We value their expertise and their recommendations to help us to solve some challenging problems.
Taking the “Four M” approach to reach site speed goals
After these meetings, What to Expect leadership developed a “Four M” approach for improving their mobile site speed. The first step was to Measure their speed as a benchmark. To do so, they used tools like Google PageSpeed Insight, SpeedCurve, WebpageTest, Pingdom, GTMatrix, and YSlow.
Next, they established Milestones — or key performance indicators — to define how fast they wanted the site to be, and they identified actionable steps to reach their goals.
“We faced various challenges while working with mobile speed like refactoring our legacy codebase, identifying low-performing 3rd party scripts and more. We had lot of brainstorming sessions to find the right solutions to reach our goals,” shared Mehta.
When all of that was done, What to Expect worked on the fourth “M” — Monitoring performance to stay on track.
Measuring mobile site speed success
When the process was complete, the results were clear. What to Expect’s site initially took 8-10 seconds to load, but after optimization, load time dropped to 2-3 seconds.
We were able to improve the time it takes to load the first part of the page by 33%, and we were able to improve the full page load by 78%, so that’s going to be miles better for a mom who’s impatient, or nervous, or anxious. She’s going to trust us more.
What to Expect continues to implement changes to improve mobile speed and bring that knowledge to other sections of their site. Mehta says, “We learned a lot along the way about how mobile speed can impact our users, their experiences and the business as a whole. It made us adopt a policy of ‘start everything with mobile’ and a company-wide saying of ‘performance is key.’”