Whether you’re running a website for your small business or putting out content for a blog, checking your website speed is very important for a positive user experience.
Sites that load quicker generally perform better with search rankings and visitors are less inclined to bounce from your page before even getting there. Here are some useful sites to measure how fast your website is on desktop and mobile.
TOOLS TO CHECK YOUR DESKTOP SITE SPEED:
- • Google PageSpeed Insights
- • Pingdom
- • WebPageTest
- • GTMetrix
- • KeyCDN
- • Think with Google (Mobile)
- • Uptrends (Mobile)
WHY IS YOUR WEBSITE SLOW TO LOAD
If your site is like 30% of all websites, chances are your website is built with the WordPress content management system. Although WordPress is relatively easier to get started compared to a typical HTML site, it tends to run slower because of the server side programming language behind it – PHP.
PHP is a dynamic scripting language that requires more execution time than a static site with just HTML – there’s just more moving parts at run-time.
In addition, WordPress is an open-source project where independent developers produce third party plugins and themes which may be conflicting or not fully optimized.
It’s the same reason why the Windows operating system tends to crash more often than Mac OS – more third party software is available with Windows.
TOOLS TO TEST YOUR WEBSITE SPEED
There are many tools to perform a website speed test and the process is fairly simple depending on which site you use. When performing your web speed test, there should be multiple options for the test location.
The results can vary depending on the test location relative to the location of the data center where your website is hosted. These tools for testing site speeds are free to use so try different locations and see how they perform against each other.
The metrics used can also vary from site to site so run a test with each one and see what information is most pertinent to your needs.
Google uses Lighthouse, an open-source tool to improve web page quality, when evaluating the speed of your website. The speed score of 90 -100 is considered fast, 50 – 89 is average, and 0 – 49 is slow. The generated report lets you know what areas need improvement and how they can be optimized.
There’s also a list of information about which factors passed the speed audit. You should run the Google PageSpeed test first and if you find that you need additional data, you can try the ones mentioned below.
2 – Pingdom
If the Google PageSpeed report seemed a bit sparse, Pingdom is probably your best bet. The report generated by Pingdom is more thorough and provides better explanations about the metrics. You can filter and sort the data based on many different file requests such as SSL Time, Load Time, Connect Time, to name a few.
There is so much data available to survey, it really pin-points the areas that your website can improve on – you also have the option to download the results in a JSON formatted HAR (HTTP Archive) file.
Even with all this data, the interface is user friendly and simple to navigate. Pingdom is also a great tool if you need a constant monitoring service for your website. If you’re serious about speed, Pingdom can be your one stop shop.
3 – WebPageTest
The interface for WebPageTest isn’t all that flashy but has plenty of substance to back it up. One feature that sets it apart is the multiple options for test locations. You can test your website speed test from different locations around the world while also being able to visually select the test location from Google Maps.
Furthermore, after setting the location preference, you can narrow down your search based on a specific web browser – currently available are Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
To see how your site stacks up against another, WebPageTest allows you to perform a visual comparison test. You can input multiple website url and generate a comparison report to see if your site is up to par compared to a more reputable one.
4 – GTmetrix
Gtmetrix lacks options for test locations but makes up for in simplicity. They pull data from Google PageSpeed and YSlow and displays file request timeline, called Waterfall Chart. The Waterfall Chart is similar to Pingdom, where you can visually see how long it took for a DNS lookup in chart format.
There’s a paid plan if you need to monitor and save more URLs especially from different locations, but the Basic free plan should be adequate for most people monitoring just a few websites.
Create a free account if you want to save up to 20 reports in order to compare new reports to past data, and monitor up to 3 URLs. The free searches have daily API limits of 20 credits, 1 credit is used every time a non-video search analysis is requested – 5 credits for a video request.
5 – KeyCDN
KeyCDN is by default a content delivery network. CDN helps websites provide faster delivery of website content so it makes sense that they also have a tool to measure the page load time to see how well their product has an effect on website speed. The interface is simple but allows test locations from 14 geographical areas and includes a website preview with a waterfall breakdown.
They also provide a shareable link to the test results which may come in handy if you’re providing such web services for clients. In addition to speed tests, you can also run performance tests, ping tests, HTTP/2 tests and quite a few more including a tool to trace any IP or hostname.
If you’re running a speed test without a CDN, you can use their free test account to see if by using their CDN helps make your page load quicker. Most web hosts have some sort of CDN built into the cPanel, and anyone can take advantage of its features by simply enabling it.
MOBILE WEBSITE SPEED TEST
With mobile network speeds advancing so quickly, it’s no wonder more and more people turn to their mobile devices to browse the web. Thus, it has become increasing important for websites to be mobile friendly and responsive, so a website speed test for mobile devices is just as necessary.
Here are 3 sites that can help measure speed performances on mobile.
Think with Google is essentially like the aforementioned PageSpeed Insights, but for mobile websites. Perform a speed test and it’ll display your site speed in either 4G or 3G network and how your mobile website speed is trending this month.
In order to generate a report, there are several steps that need to be taken to decide how to optimize your pages but the layout is simple to use and straightforward so there shouldn’t be much confusion.
2 – WebPageTest
To use the mobile website speed test with WebPageTest, the procedures are basically the same, the only difference being the test location. Search queries can be narrowed down to a specific mobile device and the web browser within that device.
From the drop down menu, choose from a list of android and ios devices and then choose the browser for that device.
3 – Uptrends
Uptrends has 10 test locations across the globe to choose from with desktop and mobile options. With the desktop speed test, you can test the speed relative to screen size and bandwidth throttling.
Similar to WebPageTest, the mobile website speed test has choices for different phones and includes most of the iPhone models.
TEST YOUR WEBSITE SPEED WITH CDN
If you’ve been running your speed tests without a content delivery network (CDN), chances are your results were less than satisfactory. Now it’s time to see how the results can improve with a CDN.
Cloudflare is a popular choice that’s usually included free with most web hosts.
Whichever web host you’re using, check with them to see if a speed optimizer like Railgun is also included with Cloudflare. By now you’ve probably noticed that the results for all speed tests aren’t exactly the same.
The takeaway here is that there isn’t one perfect speed test. The idea is to not get too hung over the numbers but to just try and improve in the areas that you can.
Simple things like using a CDN network, minifying code, removing unused CSS, and using images with smaller file sizes can make a difference in website speed performance.