Happ-e Mother's Day

Web-savvy mothers can breathe more easily this coming Mother's Day. That's because the performance of the top five e-greeting companies is up to snuff, and will meet even the uniquely high expectations of our moms.

Mercury Interactive's ActiveWatch team has measured the performance of the top five Internet greeting card services to compare the quality of the user experience that our moms can expect on Mother's Day this year, depending on the type of e-card chosen. Most sites offer a choice between cards with a simpler, static graphical design, and cards using multimedia technology.

Mercury Interactive, a provider of enterprise testing and application performance management solutions, found that mothers who receive multimedia e-greeting cards may experience slow downs of up to 50 percent during their online transaction. And we don't want to keep our mothers waiting any longer than necessary.

ActiveWatch monitored five sites—Egreetings Network, Inc., Excite@Home's BlueMountain, Yahoo!, MSN, and—simulating mothers viewing ten different greetings, one multimedia card and one static image card from each company. These sites were checked every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day for seven days, from five different U.S. locations.

They found that viewing a regular HTML e-card, with static graphics, took an average of 3.54 seconds; e-cards using multimedia, such as Flash animation, took almost twice that long, at 6.8 seconds. The animation component of the page typically took 1.8 to 2.4 seconds to download, on average. A basic GIF image on a page was much faster, averaging between 0.3 and 0.45 seconds.

The worst e-card experiences included the multimedia cards. At two sites, it took an average 9.5 seconds to download. The best performing Flash e-card was found at BlueMountain, with an average time of 5.2 seconds.

Mothers of the world will find the best performance for standard cards at Yahoo!, and for those with more advanced animation, BlueMountain offers the best performance overall.