The tradeoffs of third-party add-ons


Third-party applications and add-ons can enhance an e-commerce platform. Examples include exit pop-ups, customer reviews, product recommendations, and marketing automation. Some add-ons, such as heat maps, provide data about site visitors while others, such as live chat, improve customer support.

But third-party add-ons can create more problems than benefits. I will tackle it in this post.

Risks of add-ons

If not properly integrated or managed, add-ons can slow down a site. Slow pages entice visitors to leave. And slow pages are now a factor in Google ranking: the slower the page, the lower the organic ranking.

Additionally, add-ons that don’t sync well with a platform can create a rambling look and feel. For example, product recommendations that appear different from native customer reviews can confuse visitors.

Collecting data through an add-on can also create a malfunction. Exit pop-ups can prompt users to enter their email address if, for example, a previous marketing automation form has already collected it. The result is a frustrating experience for buyers.

Slow page loads can impact organic search rankings. Tools for monitoring page speed include WebPageTest by Catchpoint, pictured above, and Google’s PageSpeed ​​Insights.

Avoid problems

Certainly, third-party apps can add useful features at low cost. Follow these steps to avoid problems.

  • Criticize the supplier. Get to know the add-on provider. Does it have positive reviews? What about product support? Remember to send a test request before committing.
  • Monitor performance before and after installation. Analyze the impact on site speed (via Web page test and that of Google Preview page speed) and user experience. Ideally, the add-on didn’t impact page speed, but it did improve the experience. If not, consider reassessing.
  • Look at the actual results. Did the metrics improve as you expected? Conversions, average order value, inquiries – all are key and potential data points.
  • Review your accommodation. Look for a hosting service (or SaaS provider) focused on performance and load times. Ask your supplier how they can help you improve your measurements.

Also, don’t forget to remove unused add-ons. Don’t leave old scripts in your code. Also, create a process for periodically reviewing installed add-ons to make sure they deliver the benefits you expect.

Beyond add-ons

Many variables (design, images, videos) can affect the performance of the site. But, in my experience, add-ons are a common culprit. Often homeowners install them without considering the inconveniences. Recognize that every add-on can slow down a site or hurt the user experience. Consistent assessment, maintenance and measurement are essential.


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