Three main tools are used to identify problems on a website: Your own visual checks by visiting your website and navigating through it. Getting other people to visit your website and navigate through it. Benchmarking tools which analyse all the elements of a website and give you information on how quickly they loaded.
GT Metrix is a website which provides vital tools for creating a website which is functioning well. There are a number of benchmarking tools available. I use this tool to analyse a website which I am working on as it not only identifies what issues are making it run slower but also offers invaluable advice on how to remedy each issue.
Creating a website involves doing a number of tasks in order for the computer code to display information in the way which you want it displayed. The technical side of creating a website is spending hours making sure that the various components of the website are set up correctly so that they work well and respond quickly to the interaction of website visitors.
The GT Metrix website allows anyone to create an account with them and analyse the times that it takes for your website to load on computers from around the world. You can select a server in various parts of the world such as London or Vancouver. All you need to do is put the website address in and click the blue Analyze button.
It is a particularly handy tool as you can download the analytic report in pdf form so that it can be used to show the client the work that has been done on the website. It is a good tool also because it combines a Yslow analysis along with a waterfall breakdown in a single service. I use the reports to systematically work through issues that need to be resolved to improve the website. I see each report as a worklist. Here are two reports on the technical performance of this website:
One is the shortened executive summary:
One is an indepth analysis:
Why does the loading speed matter ?
A slow performing website will frustrate your users, sending them elsewhere. A faster and more responsive website will keep them more engaged and focused on your content, rather than waiting for all the elements to load. Another reason to optimise loading times for SEO. Google use page speed in their ranking algorithm. This means that faster performing sites rank with higher visibility in search engine results. A chief priority for website developers is page speed. Here is what the official Google blog announced in 2010:
Using site speed in web search ranking
“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests. Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.
But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.”