An Event Apart: “Name That Script!”

Trent Walton speaking at An Event Apart Orlando 2018 on October 10, 2018

How many third-party scripts are loading on our web pages these days? How can we objectively measure the value of these (advertising, a/b testing, analytics, etc.) scripts—considering their impact on web performance, user experience, and business goals? We’ve learned to scrutinize content hierarchy, browser support, and page speed as part of the design and development process. Similarly, Trent will share recent experiences and explore ways to evaluate and discuss the inclusion of 3rd-party scripts.

Notes

  • Third-party — Any request made by a webpage coming from an external URL
    • Any resource included with a webpage that the site owner doesn’t explicitly control
  • Third-party uses
    • Advertising — Ad networks, Ad content
    • AB Testing — Maxymiser, Optimizely, etc.
    • Analytics — Site traffic, trackers, etc.
    • Social Media — Embeds, sign up, share buttons
    • CDN — Cloudflare, AWS, etc.
    • Customer Interaction — Live chat, feedback widgets
    • Comments — Disqus, etc.
    • Essential — Tag managers, fonts, etc.
  • Third-party benefits
    • Data / Decision Drivers — Analytics + AB Testing
    • Income — Ads, Analytics, Trackers
    • Content — CDNs for Fonts, Images, Videos, etc.
    • Functionality — Comments, Chat, Tag Managers, iFrame embeds
  • Third-party concerns
    • User Experience — Poor Performance (Load Time + Processor Lag), Inconsistent UI
    • Privacy — Customer/User Trust, Organizational Reputation, Data protection
  • Delivering a performant, accessible, responsive, scalable website isn’t enough: I also need to consider the impact of third-party scripts.
  • There is almost no discussion when adding third-party scripts, but lots of discussion happens for minor design changes
  • 6 steps to help
    • Categories and types
    • Analyze and itemize third-parties
    • Know industry averages
    • Impact — UX, perf, privacy
    • Understand IRL benefits
    • Take action
  • Categories
    • Advertising — Ad networks, Ad content
    • AB Testing — Maxymiser, Optimizely, etc.
    • Analytics — Google, Chartbeat, etc.
    • Social Media — Embeds, sign up, share buttons
    • CDN —Cloudflare, AWS, etc.
    • Customer Interaction — Live chat, feedback widgets
    • Comments — Disqus, etc.
    • Essential — Tag managers, fonts, etc.
  • Use Ghostery to find categories
  • Analyze and itemize
  • Know industry averages
  • UX, Perf, Privacy Impact
  • Understand benefits
    • Tag managers — make it easy to add scripts to a website
      • Can allow third-party scripts to get out of control because it is so easy for anyone
      • But also gives an automatic inventory of the third-party scripts on your site
    • “An analytics strategy should be part of the initial development and design process […]” —Lee Goldberg
    • Ads and analytics work together to help our clients
    • Don’t blame the tool, it’s the way you’re using it
  • Take action
    • Define standards
      • Determine value to the business/website
      • Avoid redundant scripts and services
      • Fit within established performance budget
      • Comply with organizational privacy policy
    • Document standards
    • Account for third-parties during prototyping
    • Audit third-parties
    • Monitor performance
    • Make a business case
      • Competitive analysis — compare your site to a competitor
      • Gather compelling results
      • Comparative data — WebPageTest
      • Use real user monitoring (RUM)
      • Compare results
    • Talk it out
      • Include the entire team

Speaker Links and Resources

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