Four questions for… Steve Souders

Steve Souders from Google, one of this year's speakers, talks post-digital and site performance

Steve Souders is Performance Leader at Google, and a speaker at this year’s NEXT conference.

1. This year’s conference theme is “post-digital” – what, if anything, does that term mean to you?

The Internet is a new medium. Most of us remember when the Web was born, and the land grab of creating websites and attracting eyeballs. (That sounds strange now, almost macabre.) This was followed by years of creating richer destinations while dealing with browser quirks, orders of magnitude more users, and DoS attacks. For leaders on the Web, that initial step of creating a digital presence was completed long ago. While it’s true that technology is still changing, the bigger change on the Web today is in how users are interacting with the Web. Addressing those constantly changing contexts – location, device, mindset – is the main challenge in this post-digital phase.

2. Your area of speciality is web performance – why does this matter so much?

The Web has lowered so many barriers and created a more even playing field with orders of magnitude more players. The point of these mixed metaphors is web users have more choices than ever, and if they don’t have a good experience on your website they’ll just move on to your competitor’s website. A major part of creating a good experience is speed. User don’t want to wait. This is even more important for mobile users who often need the response quickly to find the right address, buy the cheapest item, and communicate with friends.

3. What excites you most about the next few years online and offline?

I’m looking forward to driving advances in performance best practices for mobile and other platforms. While mobile users need and expect a faster response, it’s harder to deliver on that on a platform that has less bandwidth, memory, CPU, and storage. It’s a real challenge.

4. What should we look forwards to hearing from you at NEXT this year?

I’ll provide specific takeaways for making your website faster. Every person in the audience can expect to walk away with at least 3 things they can implement when they return to work. In my last session one of the attendees took their website from 12 seconds to 1 second with just a few changes. I hope you’ll get a similar speedup.