Measuring Website Performance
One of the best ways to grow the popularity and traffic to your website is by having great and original content, studded with beautiful use of images. What website owners typically overlook is the speed and responsiveness of their site. It is extremely important that a website loads within a few seconds to hold the attention of the user. Any longer, and the probably of the user bouncing off to another site is very high.
Below we give a step by step method for measuring a website’s performance
1. Select an online measurement tool, we highly recommend http://www.webpagetest.org.
2. Enter the URL you wish to test.
3. Server Location Selection
Important: Do not select the server closest to you. Select a server that is closest to your potential customers, or to the customers that you want to measure the performance for. For example, if you notice a high bounce rate for customers from France, select the Paris server.
4. Click Start Test.
The results page has several important components:
- The grades at the top right
- The first and second view timing measurements.
- The water-fall showing the loading times of different website components and files.
- Content-breakdown by requests and bytes.
6. What do the grades at the top right mean
- First byte time: typically influenced by the hosting server load, or distance.
- Compress Transfer: Compression of the transfer on the server side before sending it across the internet to the user. This reduces the size of data sent, and should improve performance.
- Compress Images: Are the images being sent across compressed?
- Progressive JPEGs: The use of layered images that load in stages thereby enhancing responsiveness and load times.
- Cache Static Content: The use of caching mechanisms. In WordPress that would be plugins such as W3 Total Cache.
- Effective use of CDN: In simple terms, storing your site using a cloud provider such as Cloudflare.
7. What is the most important part of the report?
The most important part of the report is the above summary of how long it took your site to load.
- First View: How long it took to load your site the first time around.
- Second View: How long it took to load your site the second time around.
Typically the second view is faster due to caching.
8. Other things to note
The above shows the water-fall view of how long different components and files of your website took to load. It helps in determining if some parts of the site take significantly longer than other parts to load. A nice hint for optimization efforts.
Regardless of the grades assigned to your site at the top right, you should aim for your site to load under 5 seconds.
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