Mobile and Web Performance at Etsy

Posted by Mike Brittain on October 29, 2012

Over the past two years, I’ve been running a few teams in engineering that deal with Software Infrastructure — that layer of frameworks, services, and developer tools that “sits” right next to Operations. I mean that both figuratively and literally. These teams have grown and matured substantially. Last week we announced that Jason Wong would take over as director for those teams.

This change freed me up to focus on a few new things. I’ll be focusing heavily on Mobile Apps, Mobile Web, and Site Performance. [1]

Our Mobile Apps work is going strong, with a recently released update to our iOS app.¬†Our Mobile Web work has been somewhat slow recently. Last year we did a fantastic job of rolling out the initial shopping experience for use on mobile devices. The progress since then, frankly, has been glacial, and I’m excited to be working on speeding up the pace. When I started working at Etsy in early 2010, the number of visits to the site coming from mobile devices was fewer than 6%. This group has grown significantly over the last two years. Mobile visitors now account for one quarter of visits to (which does not include usage of our iOS app).

There’s a natural fit between mobile and performance. There’s a high expectation from mobile internet users for high performance and low latency. Despite increases in cellular network speeds (3G, 4G, LTE), there are still significant hurdles for making a mobile web site (or mobile web app) feel quick and responsive. I frequently argue that the perception of responsiveness is one of the great advantages of building a native app — even if your back-end server response time is relatively slow.

Over the past year our web performance team, led by Seth Walker, has been publishing quarterly Site Performance Reports (e.g. June 2012 report). Expect to see us expanding these reports in the future to include performance numbers for Mobile Web access.

I’m incredibly excited about the challenges ahead and looking for talented mobile and performance engineers to join the team. If you’re interested in hearing more about what we’re up to, please contact me at


[1] I’m also continuing to work with a couple of other teams at Etsy, including out Marketing Communications and Product Quality teams. (Not to leave them out!)

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