Testing Website Speed

Today’s fast moving pace and notoriously short attention spans require speed nearly above all else. Having slow website speed can quickly deter viewers from your site, cause them to lose patience, and seek services or solutions elsewhere. Your website’s speed does not only affect the page’s loading time, but also issues that may revolve around scripts, fonts, or plugins.

A variety of things can cause slow speeds on your website. Non-optimized images drag out the loading time. Another possibility is render-blocking JavaScript or CSS. Incorrectly configured Content Delivery Networks also hinder optimal speeds.

A few terms to know before you get started:

TTFB (Time to First Byte) means the time between your browser making the request from the server to the browser receiving information from it.

Page load time refers to how long it takes for the web page to completely load. This includes all CSS, image files, and Javascript, everything required to allow full interaction from the user.

Page rendering time on the other hand is the time it takes for the web page to be ready for any interaction. Some parts of the page may load slower, such as slideshows or images, but the user is still able to interact with the other aspects of the page.

A few helpful services:

Speedtest provides mobile apps or Android, iOS, and Windows cell phones, as well as the usual online services, so that you can measure your device’s connections as well. Once you get your speed results, you can take a look at your service’s performance history and then compare it to locations close by or across the world.

TestMy is a trusty service that has been around since 1996. As an independent third party, TestMy is committed to providing you with an accurate speed. It logs test results, tests internet speeds, and tests your upload speed. Additionally it provides testing tools on Android and iOS devices.

Pingdom splits your results into four categories: performance grade, requests, load time, and page size. The overview helps you to detect the areas most in need of optimizing.

GTmetrix is very detailed, providing information about page speed and yslow scores, recommendations for improvement, details about page load, and in-progress updates for how any changes you make affect the speed.

Remember that whatever scores you come up with should primarily be used as a guide. Some optimizations can reduce your speed score despite having improved the load time or have other incompatibility issues that result in display flaws. The tests are most useful during the process of working to optimize your site. Testing between different improvements can give you a feel for what works best. Remember to clear your cache before and between tests!

Web Analysis Services: SmarterStats vs. Google Analytics

An important part of maintaining and optimizing your website involves keeping an eye on your traffic. You need to know what users are looking for when they come to your site, how long they stay, the last page they visit before they leave, and the average amount of time spent on your site. This information is irreplaceably helpful when it comes to highlighting areas that might need improvement or successful page designs you might want to emulate throughout your website. The two most popular services for this analysis are Google Analytics and SmarterStats. The main difference between the two is that Google Analytics is a script-based analyzer, while SmarterStats is a log-based analyzer. What does this mean? We have complied a comparison of facts to help you make the educated and informed decision that will best service your website’s specific needs.

Features unique to SmarterStats:

SmarterStats has the advantage of being managed and installed on your own server and can still be used on firewall-protected corporate internet, reassuring you that you are receiving the whole picture of the statistics. It is able to reprocess historical data from log files and locally process or reprocess log files. It reports on spider and bot activity, server errors, and status codes. SmarterStats provides access to raw data for custom report building, uses SEO reports for analyzing search engine ranking, and offers analysis of competitor reports.

Features unique to Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is able to collect information through tags and uses its integration with Google AdWords to gather more information. It provides Real Time user data, goal configuration and tracking, and visitor flow report.

Features shared by SmarterStats and Google Analytics:

Both analysis services are able to report on paid search campaigns, banner and traditional marketing campaigns, and offer geo-targeted reporting. They analyze visitor session and navigation paths. Additionally both services offer free versions of their programs. The SmarterStats free version limits the use to a single site and one SEO campaign. Google Analytics free version has a limited amount of pageviews it will track. Larger sites with high traffic are required to purchase more of a package.

When it comes to accuracy, Google Analytics can misrepresent or underreport some statistics. The two services process data at different intervals, with Google Analytics using a 30-minute window while SmarterStats uses a 5-minute. Google Analytics only records data on pages with a tracking code. When it all boils down, SmarterStats is more accurate because it reports every request to the server instead of just what tracking code tags.