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!

Website Performance Optimization

Ideally, your website is your greatest tool for marketing and sales.  It is the face of your company and typically the first thing your viewers/future customers will see.  It is essential that your website’s performance is professional and top-notch, as sub-par performance can easy frustrate today’s tech-savvy audience and cause them to move on to the next option.

A landing page cuts out the middle man.  That way when a viewer reaches your site through a second party ad or a search for a specific phrase, instead of being directed to your site’s main page, they will instead end up on the page with the topic they were searching for.  The landing page goes the extra step in customer convenience.

Make sure your homepage is clear and concise.  Its job is to convey the intrinsic message of your site and then direct the viewers to the appropriate pages.  Either an overload of information or too little information will result in a confused viewer.  Let them know what your site it about and then designate clear pathways to more specific pages.

Social media is, without question, an excellent way to boost performance.  But this is more involved than merely including links to your Facebook or Twitter pages.  If you have interactive content, blogs, or newsletters, include the option to share the content on those social media platforms.  This is an easy way to interact with your viewer and let them share their interest.

Along the same lines as interactive content, give your viewers a reason to return.  A regularly updated blog, user-generated content, or several pages that change on a weekly basis (at least) will keep your viewers returning to check out new information.

It is important for you to stay up-to-date on your traffic, the average amount of time spent on your website, the last page visited before leaving, your conversation rate etc.  SmarterStats monitors traffic habits and helps you locate areas to adjust or improve on.

Speed is another intrinsic part of maintaining reader interest.  Some general tips for speeding up your performance: reduce image size, use a content delivery network, take advantage of caching, and minimize HTTP requests.  For this last tip (minimize HTTP requests), you will need to download every file (CSS, JavaScript, and images) your site uses to the browser.  Condensing all CSS files into one single spreadsheet will also have great benefits for the speed of your website’s performance.