5 Ways to Convince Your CTO to Invest in Site Speed

Hey, our website is really slow, we need to address it.

Site speed is one of the most important factors when developing, scaling, and running a successful e-commerce website. A slow website can result in decreased engagement, poor rankings on search engines, and a frustrating user experience.

Two workers in an office discussing in front of a laptop

While there is a clear business case for site speed, many CTOs and tech leads are cautious when it comes time to invest the necessary time and resources into improving website performance. They may feel that this kind of investment requires more budget, talent, and internal resources than they have at the ready.

But the truth is, throwing another developer at the problem isn't going to fix it. They are just going to be at the bottom of the same funnel that already doesn’t include site speed work. In short, increasing throughput won’t solve the problem if the roadmap doesn’t include clear performance initiatives.

Make Site Speed a Priority

To really make a case for site speed, you need to know how to face common objections from senior management, identify how site speed affects your bottom line, and demonstrate ways to increase website speed without creating more stress on your team. Below, we'll explore a few ways to do just that.

Common CTO Objections to Site Speed Improvements

Brand perception is influenced by more than the color of your logo, your font face, or your mission statement. People notice whether or not you respect their time and attention. Whether you like it or not, site speed is everyone's business. If you want to move the needle, it will require buy-in and engagement from all stakeholders, and a culture shift between engineering, operations, and marketing teams.

Objection 1: We don't have the budget

The cost of improving site speed may be high, and it could be difficult to justify the investment in terms of ROI.

Try this response:

That's true, it can be expensive. But the cost of not improving website speed comes in a variety of forms: higher bounce rates, lost customers, lower revenue, and decreased traffic just to name a few. How much is that worth?

Consider these stats:

According to Google, improving site speed helps users progress through every step of a purchase journey

Source: Think with Google

Faster sites also encourage people to stay longer and purchase more.

Source: Think with Google

It’s clear that the upfront cost of a website speed improvement program can be offset by the potential increase in revenue from improved customer engagement and sales.

Similarly, these symptoms spread beyond just the technology team. This is a marketing problem, an e-commerce problem, and an operations problem. There may be an opportunity for us to look outside our own department to find the budget to work with.

Objection 2: We don't have time

The project may require a significant amount of time and resources to complete, which could interfere with other important projects or deadlines.

Try this response:

Of course, we only have time for the work we choose to prioritize. Is it fair to say that a fast website isn’t a priority?  If we calculate the ROI for improving website speed, we can compare it against other projects and measure its importance in relation to them. How much money do we lose every day from visitors exiting a slow-loading page? How much did we pay to get that visitor in the first place? How do those costs compare to the time and resources required to improve the speed of that page?

We can start small, with a site speed audit, and find the low-hanging fruit first. How are pages loaded? How is code managed and implemented across the site? Are there any elements that can be removed or optimized for faster loading speeds? How about managing 1st party vs 3rd party code, and ensuring we don't slow down our website with too many tracking scripts and plugins?

Once we understand the basics of where our site is bottlenecked, we can explore more nuanced strategies for speeding up load times.

Objection 3: Our team doesn't have the skillset

The project may be technically complex and require specialized skills, which could be difficult to find or retain.

Try this response:

Hiring a fractional site speed department or web performance consultant can be a great way to quickly access the skills needed. Fractional agencies can help provide support, training, and resources to upskill our team rapidly and teach them how to read a waterfall chart, prioritize critical files, delay the loading of less critical ones, and determine when a page is fast enough.

It's also important that these skills aren't siloed to one person. The culture of performance needs to be spread among the team, so everyone has an understanding of why and how to improve site speed. Then, we can continue to manage it on our own. 

Again, an outside consultancy may be the key to helping us unlock these skills quickly, as we would for security, SEO, ads, and a host of other critical functions.

Objection 4: Training takes up valuable time we don't have

We don’t have time to take our devs off of coding and ship them off for a week-long intensive course.

Try this response:

I’m not suggesting it’s a crash course. We can start small and gradually increase our site speed optimization capabilities over the course of a quarter or longer. This will provide a more manageable timeline for training, increase uptake, and allow us to focus on improving our site's speed, one step at a time without losing our cadence.

This can be done through videos, workshops, and hands-on tutorials in conjunction with a consulting firm. Developing a web performance culture starts with education: ensuring that everybody on the digital teams understands why website speed is important for user engagement and conversions.

I suggest we dedicate smaller chunks of time–even just an hour or two per week–to focus on our web performance training efforts. This way, we can slowly build up the knowledge and skills necessary for long-term success.

Objection 5: We can’t manage any more tools or plugins, especially long-term

It may be difficult to integrate new technology with existing systems and infrastructure. The project may also require ongoing maintenance and support, which could be costly and time-consuming.

Try this response:

It's clear we need more than just a plugin or tool to improve site speed. We're already drowning in alerts, and another plugin won't solve this.

Browsers have evolved rapidly in the last few years, and we aren’t leveraging these basic advancements. We don't need a band-aid on a broken leg–we need a full-scale rehabilitation program.

Are our existing tools telling us what we need? Are we actioning the alerts? Maybe we can start by reviewing our current tools and eliminating the ones that don't provide value. By doing so, we may be able to redeploy that budget towards more effective solutions.

We should consider making improvements to our existing stack. Clearly did this. So did Arc’teryx. With the help of a fractional team, we can work on the fundamentals to improve the site without having to rebuild it from scratch. This is more affordable, more resilient, and we'll be enriching our team for long-term success.

Making a Business Case for Site Speed

Just as you wouldn't bring an unserviced car to a race track, it doesn't make sense to try and scale a website that isn't technically performing at its best.

But how can you convince your team that improving website speed is worth the investment? Not only that, how can you ensure they have the accountability, skillset, and commitment to keep your website fast, even after the initial investment is done?

Working with a skilled web performance consulting firm can help your team not only learn how to increase website speed but also set up best practices and processes that keep it fast. This is more realistic than trying to update and improve things yourself, either through trial and error or with experimental methods. Not to mention faster, as we already have proven processes in place.

Ready to make a real impact on your site speed, performance regressions, and tech debt backlog? Contact SpeedSense today to learn how we can help.

Team of three working at a desk

Make a business case for speed

Running a fast website requires buy-in from marketing, technology, ecommerce, and leadership teams. Prepare for the hurdles you may encounter from the stakeholders beyond your team.