How fast should your website be? Considering the fact that search engines use performance as a ranking factor, the answer is “as fast as it can be”. Another valid answer is “faster than the competition”. This article doesn’t attempt to quantify a specific time a page should load in, but it will show how we at Beleaf measure performance and analyse a site to improve performance.
Before we get into that though, let’s refresh on why performance and a fast website is important.
- Improved user experience: A fast website helps to improve the overall user experience by allowing pages to load quickly, which can keep visitors on the site longer.
- Better search engine rankings: Search engines like Google take page loading speed into account when ranking websites, so a faster website may have a better chance of ranking higher in search results.
- Increased conversions: A slow website can be frustrating for users, and this frustration can lead to fewer conversions (such as making a purchase or filling out a form). A faster website can help to increase conversions by providing a better user experience.
- Cost savings: A slower website can use more resources on the server, which can increase hosting costs. A faster website can help to reduce these costs.
- More bang for your advertising buck: GoogleAds take page loading speed into account when serving ads. A faster website will increase your ROI and deliver more leads.
Like most metrics, without having a way to measure, monitor, and compare performance, there is no way to quantifiably make an improvement. When it comes to performance analysis tools for websites, there is definitely no shortage. What sets the tools apart though is if they are able to provide a high level report of the website, with the ability to drill down to the minute detail, resulting in actionable insights.
WebPageTest by catchpoint provides one of the most in-depth performance analysis reports that can surface the performance impact of even the smallest change. We like it because it allows us to:
- See detailed performance data: WebPageTest provides a wealth of information about the performance of a webpage, including the time it takes to load each element of the page, the size of each element, the number of requests made, and whether a request was delayed by a previous request.
- Test from multiple locations: WebPageTest allows you to run tests from multiple locations around the world, which can be useful for understanding how a webpage performs for users in different regions.
- Test with multiple device and browser options: You can test a webpage on a variety of different devices and browsers using WebPageTest, which can be helpful for identifying issues that may only affect certain devices or browsers.
- Compare reports: WebPageTest allows you to compare the performance of multiple pages or runs of the same page, which can be useful for identifying changes or improvements that have been made to the site.
Overall, WebPageTest is a useful tool for anyone looking to analyse and improve the performance of a webpage. It provides a wealth of information and allows you to test a webpage on a variety of different devices and browsers, making it a valuable resource for performance optimisation.
Page Speed Insights
Page Speed Insights by Google is another good performance analysis tool because it provides detailed and actionable recommendations for improving the loading speed of a webpage.
Page Speed Insights surfaces the Core Web Vitals, which are a set of metrics that measure the performance of a webpage and are intended to provide a common set of metrics for assessing the user experience. They provide a means for measuring the performance of one site against another, and play a part in determining how a site ranks in Google search results.
We like Page Speed Insights because it:
- Is easy to use: requiring only the URL of a webpage to get started.
- Performs mobile and desktop analysis: analyses the performance of a webpage on both desktop and mobile devices, which is important given the increasing use of mobile devices to access the web.
- Provides detailed recommendations: provides specific recommendations for improving the loading speed of a webpage, along with the estimated impact on performance for each recommendation.
- Integrates with other Google tools: such as Lighthouse and Chrome DevTools, which can be useful for identifying and fixing performance issues.
Overall, Page Speed Insights is a useful tool for anyone looking to analyse and improve the performance of a webpage. It is easy to use and provides detailed recommendations for improving loading speed, making it a valuable resource for performance optimisation.
For visualising the loading process of a webpage and understanding what impact on performance a resource is having, it’s hard to go past the waterfall view of WebPageTest (though it does take some time to learn to read it). To gain actionable insights and benchmarkable metrics, Page Speed Insights and its Core Web Vitals provide an insight that is both qualitative and quantitative.
If you have an existing website that you are looking to improve the performance of, we recommend a performance audit to highlight the most impactful changes that can be made.