The problem I face that I face is that website speed depends greatly on many different factors like where your customers are located, what version of IE are the using, are they connected using broadband, or are they connected through DSL. So all these factors event the time of the day on their cable modem will matter quite dramatically as to how fast they perceive your website.
So simply using a tool like Y Slow just doesn’t give you enough information to determine how fast your site is. So how can you accurately measure the speed of your website?
The solution here is to measure the customer’s perceived and actual load time from many different points across the country and world from different browsers. Oh and by the way we also want to care about the connection speed. So how can you do all this accurately and easily? Well a year ago this simply wouldnt be possible.
Today, we have a free tool called WebpageTest.org.
Webpage Test is what the professionals use when they want an accurate measure of site speed. This is a completely free tool started by AOL and now managed by a community of contributors on Google code. This tool is much more accurate than simply using Y!Slow, which is a good start, but certainly has it’s inaccuracies do to the fact it’s a browser plugin. The problem with the browser plugin approach is that you only get one limited perspective; this does not give you the full picture, especially from the eyes of your customers all over the world. Webpage Test allows you to choose what city, country and browser you would like to test your site. It even will generate video comparisons, allowing you to see how much faster or slower you are compared to your competitors.
Visit webpagetest.org and give it a try for yourself. Simply enter in your website name and choose a location and browser from which you want to test your site performance and click start test. Wait until the test completes and you should see grades in the top right and big waterfall full of data. This waterfall will show you the resources loading on your site and in what order.
I am not going to go into detail today on what everything means on the result page, but if you are intrigued and have questions like, “why do I have 4 F’s and one D and how can I score A’s”, we are here to help, so just give us a call.