If there’s one snack shop you’re likely to find on any given street corner in your city, there’s a good chance it’s either a Dunkin Donuts or a Starbucks (and in some cases, they’re on either sides of the street from each other). Both chains serve up steaming hot caffeinated goodness – at varying affordability in pricing – as well as other sweet treats. And while different areas of the globe may have more common chains than these two, we East Coast natives have regular access to the fresh beans of these common coffee connoisseurs.
It’s no secret that those who rely on a warm, fresh cup of java to get their day started also know these bean beverages affect their daily performance. So we wanted to pose the question – what about the web performance of these respective coffee shops?
To test their website performance, we used AlertBot’s external website monitoring system and its TrueBrowser™ technology to monitor both DunkinDonuts.com and Starbucks.com from December 1st through Christmas Day, 2018. Given the notoriety of both establishments, we expected their performance to be as strong as their brews, and we weren’t disappointed.
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 Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks’ sites performed quite well. Neither saw significant downtime, but each one experienced some sluggish speeds and even load time timeouts on a couple rare occasions.
DunkinDonuts.com experienced 99.96% uptime, with just a few errors recorded due to slow load times. None of these events lasted longer than a couple minutes, and none amounted to any significant downtime. Because of this, we still consider their performance to be quite solid. (DunkinDonuts.com 8.5/10)
Starbucks.com performed similarly with 99.87% uptime and similar slow page load errors that didn’t amount to significant downtime but at least put a wrinkle in their performance. They experienced four times as many of these errors as Dunkin, so we have to take that into consideration with our rating. (Starbucks.com 8/10)
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. These tests are performed from the perspective of a first-time visitor with no prior cache of the website’s content. AlertBot runs the tests inside real Firefox web browsers using AlertBot’s TrueBrowser™ monitoring.
The speed for both sites were relatively close to each other. DunkinDonuts.com’s best speed, on average, was seen on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4.8 seconds, which isn’t stellar by any means, but not the worst either. Their best time of day, however, was on Wednesday, Dec. 19th at 4am with 2.1 seconds. It’s considerably better, but 4am isn’t exactly prime web traffic time. Dunkin’s worst averaged day was Monday, Dec. 17th at 6.2 seconds. However, their worst time was on Saturday Dec. 22 at 9am with a crawling 10.5 seconds. The site’s overall average speed across the entire test period was 5.6 seconds. (DunkinDonuts.com 7.5/10)
Starbucks.com didn’t fare too much better in comparison. Their best day on average was Saturday, Dec. 1st with 5.2 seconds. Their best response time was at 7am on Monday, Dec. 17 with 2 seconds. (It’s interesting that their best average time was on Dunkin’s worst averaged day.) Starbucks’ worst day on average was the previous day, Dec. 16, with 6.9 seconds, with their worst response time on average being at 9pm on Friday, Dec. 7th with a slightly-slower-than-Dunkin’s-speed of 10.7 seconds. But, as you can see, both sites performed pretty close to one another. Starbucks.com’s overall average speed during the entire test period was a tad slower, at 6.3 seconds. (Starbucks.com 7/10)
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.
If you’ve been following these competitions at all, you’ll know that no one beats California in website load time speed. However, lately, we’ve been seeing more variety when it comes to which state in the U.S. has the faster speeds. This time around, Nevada wins (for both sites), with DunkinDonuts.com moving at a swift 1.79 seconds in The Silver State. Oregon came in second at 1.8 seconds, with Ohio at 2 seconds. Comparatively, Washington state saw the slowest speed, coming in at 10.8 seconds, with Colorado in second at 9.2 seconds and Texas in third at 9.1 seconds. (DunkinDonuts.com 8/10)
Starbucks.com loaded at 1.4 seconds in Nevada, which was faster than Dunkin’s best time. Their second fastest was 1.5 seconds in Oregon and 1.7 seconds in Ohio – all better than Dunkin’s best (1.79 seconds). However, Starbucks saw significantly slower load times than Dunkin, with all of their slowest load times being worse than Dunkin’s slowest. Washington came in at 12.5 seconds, then Colorado at 11.6 seconds, and Texas at 11.4 seconds. While they were a little faster than DunkinDonuts.com, they were also considerably slower, which is unfortunate. (Starbucks.com 7.5/10)
For evaluating a site’s usability, we always select a common task a user might typically try to accomplish when visiting the sites and replicate it. For our previous Showdowns, we tested things like going through the motions of ordering movie tickets from a local theater or simply adding a similar item to both sites’ shopping carts. For this Showdown, we’ll see what the experience is like to use their respective websites to find their rewards program and get ready to sign up for it. (And we’re writing about it as we’re performing the test.)
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.DunkinDonuts.com into our Chrome browser, it took 15 seconds and 1 click to find the signup page for their rewards program. (OK, maybe this is too easy?)
For http://www.Starbucks.com, it took one click and 10 seconds to get to the rewards signup page.
For these tests, we attempt to go into them without much prior knowledge of the site’s user side functionality to give it an unbiased test, but this one probably calls for a retest with a different approach.
Let’s try navigating their respective menus and trying to find out about their coffee items.
With this in mind, from the point of typing in DunkinDonuts.com and navigating through their menu to their coffee options, it took 4 clicks and 23 seconds to get to the page with their regular drip coffee and its nutrition info. It’s a nice website and an enjoyable one to navigate.
With the same goal in mind, for Starbucks.com, it took 5 clicks and over 35 seconds to find the brewed coffee, but the confusing menu setup made it tough to find just plain, hot drip coffee. The Dunkin menu has images for all their options, but Starbucks drops most of the images once you get to the menu, so we ended up on the cold brew menu instead. (As it turns out, it was the fifth option, “Freshly Brewed Coffee” that we actually were looking for… you’d think it’d be one of the first options, though… right?)
Given that the first test was inconclusive, the second one was a clear one for us (albeit unexpected). DunkinDonuts.com was quicker and easier to navigate, and much more user friendly.
With that in mind, here are the Usability scores:
Both sites performed respectably, but when it comes to usability and speed, one unexpectedly outperformed the other—even if just by a little bit. So, we’re pleased to announce this Showdown champion to be…