Performing a Website Speed Analysis
Website speed is crucial to your business’s success. Completing a website speed analysis and improving your page load time by milliseconds can increase sales. Customers tend to lose patience and leave when load times get over 2 seconds. Even more importantly, Google considers website speed when determining search rankings which means more potential customers for your business in the first place.
Anything you can do to improve your website’s speed is absolutely worth the time, effort and expense. But first, you have to analyze your site’s speed so that you know how far you are from the ideal.
What’s the ideal website speed? Google aims for page load times of half a second. Anything over 2 seconds is too slow. Depending on your industry and the size of your business, you may be satisfied with a two-second page load time, or you may want to get as close to a half second load time as you can manage.
Basic Website Speed Analysis
Start by testing how quickly individual pages load. Dotcom-Monitor’s Website Speed Test and other free online tools allow you to test how quickly a single URL loads when accessed from servers located around the globe via a variety of platforms and browsers.
This only works for pages that are read-only/content-based. Identify which pages on your site can be tested this way. If articles and product information reside in a CMS (Content Management System), then you can test a few pages that are populated by the CMS. There’s no need to test every single product page unless they’re hardcoded.
If you need to test the speed of complicated processes, such as adding products to a shopping cart or checking out, you’ll need more complex tools.
Complex Website Speed Analysis
If your website slows down considerably during the checkout process, customers will abandon their shopping carts and may never return. You can’t test the speed of those pages by testing the individual URLs because each page depends on information entered in the previous page.
To test the speed of those pages you’ll need a testing solution that can mimic user behavior. UserView, which allows for multi-step transaction monitoring, combined with Load testing software is ideally suited for this task.
Several commercial SaaS (software as a service) load testing solutions, including Dotcom-Monitor’s LoadView will charge you based on the number of virtual users in your test. So you can record test scripts and then run them with only a few virtual users to get an idea of your website’s baseline speed.
Of course, your website will load more quickly with 10 visitors than with 100 or 1,000. But no online business can survive if their site can only handle 10 customers at a time. If your website speed isn’t up to snuff with only a few virtual users, make some improvements before moving on to full load testing with hundreds or thousands of virtual site visitors.
Identifying the Problems
Load testing software should supply reports that help you identify and troubleshoot the bottlenecks. If all your pages are slower than you’d like, then a faster web host will help. If only a few pages are a problem, they may need to be redesigned so that they load more quickly.
Any changes to your site can impact speed, so perform a website speed analysis with each update or release.