Website Speed Testing: Tools to Make Your Site Faster

September 26th, 2012 Leave a comment
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Website Speed Testing

While more and more users are using high-speed internet connections to access the web, there is still a need to optimize our web pages so that our users do not have to wait for pages to load. Most people are impatient on the internet and your web site’s performance needs to be top-notch to compete. In order to determine where the speed problems or bottlenecks are in your site, you often need to use speed test tools that can analyze what is going on. In this article, I discuss various speed test tools you can use to get your site moving.

1. Google’s Page Speed Online

This is Google’s fantastic tool to analyze page speed, originally based on Google’s Chrome Web development browser extension. This tool can analyze your site’s performance using Google’s Web Performance Best Practices, which is a set of rules for front-end performance. This tool is especially great if you have mobile users since it can report on the Mobile Device Best Practices as well. Page Speed can create reports and generate suggestions to help you make your page faster and better.

2. WebPageTest

WebPageTest is a great tool for ensuring multi-browser compliance since it can render the page in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer and then show you the speed differences between the two. You can also choose to conduct the test from a different geographical location so you can see how your page loads for your European customers while at home in the US. There are several other simulation features such as ad-blocking and testing different internet speeds. The reports this tool can generate are pretty sophisticated with waterfall charts and suggestions for improvement. This is a very powerful and free tool that can improve page optimization.

3. YSlow

YSlow is Yahoo’s web page analyzer that can suggest ways for you to improve your site’s performance based on their set of Rules of High Performance Web Pages. This tool can grade your site based on this criteria, create a summary of components, give suggestions for improvement and provide statistics for you site. You can use YSlow with Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari as well as through mobile/bookmarklet and command line. Considering that Yahoo’s grading criteria is pretty stiff, this is a great tool to determine how your site stacks up.

4. dynaTrace

dynaTrace comes in two flavors: free and premium. At its core, it provides page load times, diagnoses problems, helps optimize rendering times, traces scripting and DOM issues, does web test automation and compares your site to its peers. If that doesn’t sound powerful enough for you, the premium version adds in a pile of other great features such as baselining, regression alerts, team capabilities and much more.

5. Show Slow

Show Slow is an open source tool that can help you monitor more than one site for performance and speed issues. This tool incorporates three tools we have mentioned above, YSlow, Page Speed and dynaTrace. Show Slow does require registration but is free to use. While the upside of combining some of the tools is helpful, the downside is that it is public monitoring. However, you can install your own private version of Show Slow on your own server. Either way, this is a helpful tool for monitoring how changes to your site can affect performance.

6. Load Impact

Load Impact is an excellent way to determine your site’s capability for handling large loads or spikes in traffic. Traffic can be simulated by an automated system so you can view your performance for load time and requests per second. Free tests are public and show up on the main page for everyone to use. If you register you can get private tests and some more variables to play with then testing.If you have ever wondered how durable your web server is or how fast you could handle 5,000 page requests, this is the tool for you.

7. Web Page Analyzer

Found at websiteoptimization.com, the Web Page Analyzer is a free web site performance and speed analysis tool. This is probably the easiest and oldest of the speed test tools available, but don’t let that fool you. There is a lot of powerful information to be found. Web Page Analyzer can give you information on your page’s size, assets and load time as well as provide recommendations to make things better, all in a very easy-to-read table.

8. Which Loads Faster?

When trying to determine how your site stands up to your competition, load time can be a big factor. Which Loads Faster allows you to pit two websites against each other to determine which one is the fastest to load and by what margin.Originally, this open source project was created to promote the important of web performance and you can use it as a tool on your site to just that for your own pages.

While there are dozens of more web site tools available on the web, this is a list of some of the better ones. Web site performance matters, whether you are trying to build a site better than your competitor, want more sales conversions or just want your business to have a great web presence. By using these tools you can make your pages load faster and get recommendations on ways to improve your site so it will continue to be fast and efficient for years to come.

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