Further, when you fold in the impatient nature of mobile users, loading time becomes an even greater consideration.

Given the fiercely competitive nature of ecommerce, any edge a seller can get is worthwhile. One such strategy involves staging a site's static content on multiple data servers around the world to improve access. As you might imagine though, there are some pros and cons of these content distribution networks (CDNs) to contemplate.

How CDNs Function

Modern browsers support the loading of as many as six resources concurrently from a single domain. Let's say a page contains 60 images, five CSS files and five JavaScript files. This would require 10 exchanges with a single domain to load that page.

On the other hand, when the page's elements are distributed across 40 domains, all of that data can be gathered in one pass. This reduces the load time of that page significantly.

However, this is just one of the benefits of this approach.

Reduced Server Loads

Because the elements of the page are stored on many different servers, each individual server has less work to do to fulfill a browser's request. As a result, a single server can support a lot more users simultaneously.

Content Geo-Location

We alluded to this one briefly in the introduction. When servers with your content are located all over the world, a browser can also choose to access the ones closest to the location of its host machine.

Thus, even if your business is located in Omaha, Nebraska, a user in Colombo, Sri Lanka could conceivably enjoy the same load times as a user in San Francisco, California even though the Sri Lankan is on the other side of the world.

Cached Resourcing

Return visitors to your site will have already loaded your JavaScript library and will not be required to gather that content again. It will already be on their machine, giving you even more of a speed advantage over sites the user visits for the first time.

Of course, along with all of that goodness does come some potential issues.

Added Costs

Keeping your data on one server is a lot less expensive than placing it on multiple servers around the globe.

Yes, there are free CDNs out there, like GoogleAPI, Bootstrap, CloudFare or Incapsula; but their paid plans offer more speed. If your chief competitor is on a paid plan and you're on a free one yours will be the slower site.

For this reason, it's better to opt for a paid plan, which means your cost structure will increase. On the other hand, you can offset this somewhat with a free ecommerce store from Shopify or another ecommerce platform provider.

Support Concerns

As you might imagine, using a CDN adds complexities to the deployment of your assets. You'll be fine as long as everything lines up but distributing your content over hundreds of machines does increase the potential for problems.

When you choose a CDN provider, pay particular attention to their downtime, how they address glitches and what preventative measures they take to ensure uninterrupted operation.

Geolocation & Network Filter Issues

Using a CDN can have the opposite of the desired effect if a user is in a country in which no server is located. In this instance, the user's browser would have a more difficult time accessing your files, which, in turn would retard your loading speeds.

Another concern is the presence of network filters on users' machines. Many of them block content from CDNs, so your content wouldn't be loaded at all.

Are CDNs Worth It?

If you have a huge site with a lot of traffic, going with a CDN will be advantageous. Your site will load much faster in most situations and CDNs are also beneficial for search engine ranking. They will also give you added speed, a more positive user experience and more repeat visits.

However, you'll deal with additional complexity, higher costs and in some cases CDNs can impede the performance of your site for some users, depending upon their location and their usage of network filters.

These are the main pros and cons of content distribution networks.

So, are they for you?