ghd Case Study

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ghd provides a wide range of innovative hair styling equipment and accessories. These include a number of unique products, such as the ghd eclipse® and the ghd V Gold Series. Its website also features articles and videos on hair styles, salons and stylists.

We couldn’t be happier with the result. We set out to deliver a better experience to customers and, with NCC Group’s help, that’s what we’ve achieved. We’re still planning to make further improvements, and our developers are working through NCC Group’s full list of recommendations.
— Spencer Hudson, Internet Technical Solutions Manager, ghd

Solution

ghd had invested considerable resources into the ghdhair.com website and wanted to make sure they were getting the most out of their investment.

In 2013 ghd asked NCC Group to perform a Web Performance Health Check, using NCC Group’s Performance Analyser and Performance Monitoring tools.

The nature of ghd’s business meant that a stylish, visually appealing website was essential, and they were confident that the site they had built was both attractive and easy to use. They were happy with the look. They were happy with the functionality. But they were well aware that this was not the whole story. They were keen to provide the best possible experience to customers, and this meant making the site faster.

This involved:

  • Crawling the entire ghd website with NCC Group’s Performance Analyser tool
  • Monitoring the site’s performance over a period of six months
  • Ranking the ghd site against a number of its main competitors

Consistent, reliable results were essential, and NCC Group’s carefully controlled connectivity meant that results were unaffected by ISP slowdowns or fluctuations in exchange performance.

At the same time, Performance Analyser’s range of powerful tools helped to provide:

  • Information on the biggest, slowest and worst performing pages
  • Details of render times and other key metrics
  • Detailed recommendations to improve performance

NCC Group’s review revealed that page size was having a massive impact on performance. Visual impact was key to the ghd site, and it contained a lot of imagery. Average page size was around 1,700kB, while average total download time on a 2Mbps connection ranged from 8.83 seconds to 8.96 seconds. Overall performance also lagged behind competitor sites.

Results

It was clear from the outset that ghd were fully engaged in the process and understood the importance of performance optimisation. So when NCC Group made its recommendations, ghd immediately went to work on implementing them. To get the most out of the process, ghd made sure that all interested parties were involved. These included senior ghd management, as well as representatives from third-party partners, all of whom were there when NCC Group presented its conclusions.

Image optimisation was a priority, since it was thought that this would deliver some of the biggest benefits. At the same time, ghd did not want to compromise on visual appeal, and NCC Group was able to show ghd how to achieve drastically reduced file sizes with no noticeable loss of quality. It also carried out a number of other recommendations, such as Gzipping text files.

The results were striking:

  • Average total download times fell by 20%.
  • Average render start time fell from 1.1 seconds to an impressive 0.64 seconds.
  • Average page size fell by 24%.
  • The site’s performance was now on a par with – or in many cases better than – the
  • competition’s.
 
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ghd has made great progress in cutting page sizes, which has had a huge impact on its bandwidth usage and download speeds.

Published date:  13 October 2014

Justin Fry