For a pizza connoisseur, comparing deep-dish Chicago-style pizzas to thin-crust New York-style can very often turn into a very heated debate. Just ask Jon Stewart.

On our blog, we tend to focus a lot on failures and performance issues because learning from our mistakes is usually the best way to prevent them happening again. Today, however, we’re diverting our focus to examine a story of how a major retail site took the hard road to build a faster website for their end users.

W.W Grainger, founded in 1927 in Chicago with the purpose of providing businesses with supplies, launched their first website in 1996. Online commerce is a huge focus for this Fortune 500 company.

While reviewing a recent update of our benchmark index, I discovered this amazing performance improvement the team achieved and even made a point to congratulate them at Velocity 2016 in Santa Clara.

Grainger Render Start Time
Grainger Render Start Time

As displayed in the chart above, their render start time improved by 43%.

I love the render start metric—it gives you a sense of when the user stopped staring at a blank screen. Of course, my experience with Grainger’s site is vastly different form my recent experience with Seiko.

This significant performance improvement was achieved by moving to inline CSS, driving a faster render start time while moving the entire site to SSL.

Congratulations, Team Grainger!

PS: Feels like the deep-dish pizza became a thin-crust one here. Either way, the consumer is the ultimate winner!

Mehdi