Site speed is so important to the success of a website. Improving your webpage loading speed can have a dramatic effect on the overall success of your site. It influences your website performance, from user experience to search engine optimisation. Slow loading pages can have a surprisingly dramatic effect on the number of users who will purchase from your website. This means that slow sites are less effective at delivering a positive return on investment. Page speed is a direct ranking factor, a fact known even better since Google’s Speed Update.
Opening a website in your browser and using a timer on your phone as you watch a website load is not the best way to determine if your website is fast enough. This is why there are so many free tools that check your site speed. I have compiled a list of 5 tools I like to use. The following tools are designed to test, analyse and improve the speed of the pages on your website.
Pingdom is a very user-friendly tool, they have a client list that boasts some of the biggest names on the internet. The free version allows a website to be analysed using a European, Asian, North American, South American or South Pacific server. Once you have entered your URL, you are presented with a summary of statistics including load time, page size and performance grade. You can download this file and share it with your developer so they can make changes to help improve the speed of the site.
With the paid version you are also able to set up alerts for your website that can be used to detect major unexpected changes to your website such as the server going offline, these alerts can be set to check your website every minute and appear in your inbox within minutes of the problem appearing.
GTMetrix is another tool full of features and analysis that can help improve your site speed. Using this tool you can see how your site performs, reveal why it is slow and discover optimisation opportunities.
The report includes a breakdown of everything that is included in the analysis such as compressing images and specifying image dimensions. The report also includes helpful tips that explain each recommendation with a link to find out how to resolve the issue. GTMetrix also features a waterfall timeline.
A unique feature of GTMetrix is the ability to have platform relevant suggestions for popular CMS. For example, if you run a site on WordPress or Magento, the report identifies your platform and gives tips that are specifically based on your website’s technology.
The report that is produced can be downloaded as a PDF to share with Developers and decision makers and compare the analysed page with another URL to show how your site is performing in comparison to similar sites.
If you want to analyse a site from a UK based server, you may need to sign up for an account.
PageSpeed Insights analyses the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. As the tool is created by Google, there is also a good chance that similar technology is used as part of the ranking algorithm.
The mobile analysis section is very useful for finding page and speed issues that may go unnoticed to developers using desktop browsers. The tool also shows a basic emulation image of how your website would look on a smaller screen. As well as this, the tool also gives suggestions to improve user experience for mobile devices such as tap target and content size.
This tool allows you to run a website speed test from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers (IE and Chrome) and at real consumer connection speeds. You can run simple tests or perform advanced testing including multi-step transactions, video capture, content blocking and much more.
Your results will provide rich diagnostic information including resource loading waterfall charts, page speed optimisation checks and suggestions for improvements.
WebpageTest is a highly technical tool that is designed primarily for use by web developers. The tool shows every individual file, content type, connection request and downloaded byte. These statistics can be really useful for identifying exactly what is causing unexpected delays in loading a page so that they can be resolved.
The tool is highly customisable with the largest range of variables that can be tested. Any website can be tested from a range of servers around the world which is ideal for most multinational websites. The tool also has an option to test Android and iOS page speeds although it currently only does this from a North American based server.
With a more and more visual websites being built, this tool is an essential tool to use.
Optimising images can significantly improve web page load time, resulting in improved user retention and satisfaction. This tool provides measurable and actionable information about how to go beyond simple compression. It can help you discover how changes to image size, format selection, quality and encoding can dramatically improve page load speed. This tool gives you information about each and every image on the analysed page. It tells you how large the image is and how much space you could save by compressing it in a different way.
I hope you will find the explanation of the above tools useful. All the tools listed above can help you test your site speed. Start testing your website today and start monitoring the improvements.