Whether you’re picking up a Kids meal for your littlest picky eater or satisfying a hankering for greasy and salty French fries, chances are you’ve found yourself in line at a drive-thru for McDonald’s or Burger King at some point in your life. But these two massive burger chains also have an online presence, and while you’re not exactly going to try to order a single or double patty to be shipped to your home, you might find yourself visiting the websites for either fast food giant to look up their menus or latest promotions.
So for this, our fourth website Showdown, the AlertBot team rolled up their sleeves, grabbed a handful of ketchup packets, and sat down to take the wax paper wrap off of these two websites to see just how the sites for BK and Mickey D’s performed in comparison to one another.
We used AlertBot’s external website monitoring system and its TrueBrowser™ technology to monitor both sites for three weeks, spanning from June 5, 2017 to June 26, 2017. Not surprisingly, the performance proved to be reliable for both sites. Neither service’s site went down, but as usual, one did prove to perform a little faster than the other.
For the reliability evaluation of a website, we look for failure events (like when a page doesn’t fully load or it is completely down), and we look for what caused those failures.
Both sites performed quite well during the time period, but McDonald’s site experienced a hiccup on the first day of the test, June 5. It was a timed-out warning (meaning the site failed to load in the expected time period), but it didn’t last longer than a couple minutes, and didn’t seem to affect the site for very long. Otherwise, their site was pretty stable. (McDonald’s 9/10)
On the other hand, Burger King’s site didn’t experience any confirmed failure events at all and experiencing complete uptime during the test time. However, it did see two transient errors—one a slow page notice and one a brief timed-out notice—for less than a minute that affected the site’s overall performance from a single location. When errors like these occur, AlertBot tests them from a second location to confirm if the error is widespread or just a brief localized blip. In these instances, the error only occurred from just one test location and didn’t qualify as a downtime event. (Burger King 9.5/10)
When evaluating a website’s speed, we look at the time it takes the site’s homepage to render and load to the point of being fully interactive by the user. We run these tests inside real Firefox web browsers using AlertBot’s TrueBrowser ™ monitoring.
Both sites are quite graphics-heavy, so it doesn’t surprise me that they may experience some slowness at times.
McDonalds’ loading speeds averaged around 9.5 seconds per day, with its best time being 10 AM on Monday, June 12 at 5 seconds and its best day being Monday, June 26th with an average of 8.8 seconds. Its worst day was Monday, June 5th, when the load time crawled to an average of 12.7 seconds, while the worst time was on Wednesday June 7th at 11 PM with a pitiful 17.6 seconds. (McDonald’s 8.5/10)
Burger King performed significantly better by comparison. Overall, the site averaged 3.6 seconds for its load time, which is pretty good. Its best day was Wednesday, June 19th when it averaged 3.5 seconds, with its best load time being on Wednesday, June 14th with a speedy 1.8 seconds load time at 6 AM. Monday, June 5 was the worst day, seeing a 6.1 seconds load time (which was still better than McDonald’s BEST day), and their worst time being Saturday, June 17th at 10 AM with 8.5 seconds. (Burger King 9.5/10)
It’s always interesting to see how sites perform differently across the world. If we look exclusively at the United States, it’s intriguing to see which states regularly see faster or slower times than others.
It seems to be the norm for California to record the fastest speeds, and the same holds true for McDonald’s. However, surprisingly, New Jersey was the next fastest state on the list. Comparatively, the fast food chain legends saw the slowest load times in Georgia and Utah. (McDonald’s 9/10)
Burger King, for the most part, saw stronger returns across the board, with California, Colorado, Virginia, Missouri, Washington and Texas all pinging approximately 1 msec. Their slowest locations were North Carolina and also Utah. (Burger King 10/10)
For usability, we select a common task a user might typically try to accomplish when visiting the sites and replicate it. For our previous Showdown, we tested out how the experience of tracking a real package might look when using two popular parcel services. For this Showdown, we’ll see what the experience is like to use their respective websites to look up the menu and nutritional information on each company’s signature burgers.
For each of these processes, we started by opening a new tab in Google Chrome and typing in the site’s URL.
From the point of typing www.mcdonalds.com into our Chrome browser and navigating until we could find the Big Mac nutritional info, it took 26 seconds. We were held up at first by a prompt on the front page that asked us to join their email list. The browser also wanted to access our location. From closing out the pop-up on down to finding the Big Mac info, it took five mouse clicks.
Now, from the point of typing www.burgerking.com into our Chrome browser, it took four mouse clicks and 18 seconds to get to the Whopper’s nutritional info. BK’s design is much simpler, so we see why their load times were faster.
We liked the aesthetic of both websites, but McDonalds has a slightly more modern feel in its design. However, their graphics are all-around larger and they have more going on on the page, which could be why their overall load times are slower than Burger King’s.
So, with all things considered, with the goal being able to find the nutritional info on each chain’s most popular burger, here are the Usability scores:
(McDonalds 9/10) (Burger King 10/10)
Neither site performed exceptionally well over the other, but it’s safe to say that Burger King edges out McDonalds in speed and overall performance. (Just for fun, we should follow this up with a who-has-the-better-French-Fries competition!)
So, for the fourth AlertBot Showdown, the site that gets to join the ranks of previous winners Apple, FedEx and Fandango is…