Speed of website load and operation has been recognized as a very desirable trait for your website. Numerous Studies show that the faster a website responds the lower the boumce rate and the higher the conversions to sales. See the infographics here. Thus it should not be a surprise that faster website speed results in higher ranking by both Google and Bing. So more website owners are starting to track and diagnose their website’s performance. Here are some online tools that measure website speed in detail often with very useful tips on how to correct any speed problems:
Free Online Website Speed Testing Tools In Action
There are a number of online tools available to test the speed of your website. Many are free and provide useful detail information on what the bottlenecks are and how to fix them, This review will highlight the best free online sites and why we choose to use a selected bevy of tools to assess website speed and performance.
Google cemented the move to faster web page load time when it started to include speed of website load in its ranking algorithsms at the end of 2010. At the same time, Google provided a tool for website owners to measure their website’s performance:
This is a full-width landing page with hero image and audio recordings for a Broadway recording artist – so it is challenging to offer good response . Google tells where there are problems and provides Fix It hints. I believe the high Google standard for feedback has influenced many other free website performance measuring services.
Website Grader provides not just Speed but also mobile, SEO, and Security tests for a website. Here is it being used on theOpenSourcery.com:
As Webmaster all I have to do is scroll down and see the 4 speed improvement hints provided by Website Grader. Yes, it is case of “Doctor, heal thyself”. But what is particularly helpful are the insights on Security and SEO – lots of work to do.
WebPage Test is crammed with useful website speed and performance info. But “crammed” is also the problem – Pingdom and GTmetrix have a large leg up on displaying their test results. However, WebPage Test has a few unique tests not to be found elsewhere:
For example this comparative test shows the websites of Louise Pitre [celebrated Broadway actress], Celine Dion [chanteuse extraordinaire] and Beyonce [MamaMia pregnant and glowing] running in a parallel speed of loading test. The two French Canadian singers have much faster websites. This type of display among competing websites for speed and performance is often vital on some web contracts. Another plus is that WebPage Test does mobile based testing.
KeyCDN provides valuable info on the speed of your website throughout the world. This provides evidence for use of a CDN for world-wide top performance.Takethe5th has analysis of international political and economic trends; so its world-wide performance is of keen interest.
In addition the there are valuable additional tests for site speed in which load time for all resources are shown on a timeline – a valuable indicator where load delays are occurring. This is my second favorite online website speed tester for these two reasons.
This reviewer came across Pingdom in a tight spot – an important client’s website was getting poor performance despite use of normally excellent caching software. Use of Pingdom made all the difference and here is why. Pixoftoronto.com uses a lot of images, galleries, sliders, full-width hero images and video to show off the TO Scene. But that mix of media and plugins was causing load time issues:
What Pingdom supplies is a good summary of what is happening at load with important performance info which users can examine in more detail by clicking on the pulldown performance hints. These proved valuable in identifying the nature of the problem.
But what was really needed to decipher the complex combo of media and plugins was a timeline which showed the loading of resources used by the website. Pingdom supplied exactly that:
Through this analysis the speed pig revealed itself as a popular plugin which was eating up load time. After switching plugins response time improved dramatically. So whenever confronted with a tough speed operation, Pingdom is my preferred tool to start the diagnosis; but as you will see its not the only tool used to diagnose speed and performance issues at a website.
Next to Pingdom for diagnostic completeness is GTmetrix. In fact it has more information on YSlow and Video ratings than Pingdom. So you may want to use GTmetrix when these are important measure. Specifically, SandraCampbell.ca is a Weebly website for a creative writer with many skills. So as a developer we have less control over a Weebly site’s performance beyond optimizing size of the many media and/or switching some of UI widgets used:
In this case we needed to find what was slowing the site among images, video, and some Weebly widgets. It turned out to be some image sizes which we compressed using Riot.exe [highly recommended image optimizer] and the above response time is much improved. So as you can see, having a battery of free online speed testing tools really helps in development.
DareBoost, like Pingdom and GTmetrix has a wide range of speed tests with helpful display of the results. So users should try all three and see which fits their needs the closest. However, Dareboost has video results that can be quite helpful:
With this visual data there can be no Trumpian complaints about “fake news”. So DareBoost gets this special case usage a liitle more often then I like. Anther featuresis that DareBoost can test mobile viewports.
Site24x7 was pointed out as website speed tester that itself was fast and packed with useful information. That proved to be exactly the case at TorontoDance.com where nagging speed bottlenecks were plaguing the website. With Site24x7 results available, it soon became obvious that the real problem was with the event manager plugin getting overloaded.
In WordPress, custom-post-type loads can be very expensive if the plugin has to do complex multi-table cross joins. This was the problem – and so the event manager start-up was delayed until one of it operations had been invoked.
Dotcom Monitor automatically provides worldwide local testing of a website just like KeyCDN. However, Dotcom Monitor does not have the appealing worldwide display like KeyCDN. But what it does have is an immediate second after the first as seen in the screenshot above. And the second visit speed can be 40-50% faster than the first.
This result implies either poor or no CDN support or that a shared server or browser is “waking up” and then using cache data on the second trip/query. Again, useful performance info. Add mobile device testing as another feature. Sucuri Load Time Tester and Monitis provide alternate multi-location testing.
Chrome Browser Tools for Speed Testing
This review would not be complete without citing some of the Chrome browser tools. First, one should have known it – buried in the Chrome Developer tool [click F12] is some useful speed audit information as seen below:
Shades of Pingdom and GTmetrix without the timeline details.
And of course, there are Chrome extensions for Load testing. Short and sweet is the PageLoad Tester extension:
This extension provides all the load time vital statistics so one can spot sources of delay in an aninstant. Then unleash the proper and free speed testing tool from our list above for detail diagnosis. One of those tools might be the Performance Analyzer extension:
This again supplies immediate results including timeline before diving in with the heavyweight free online tools discussed above.
It is important to note that all the major browsers have both Browser Developer Tools and their own free online extension for speed testing. So in the past 3 years an almost embarrassment of testing riches has appeared on the free online website speed test scene.
In the past few years, more of my personal web development engagements have involved fixing runtime performance for a variety of websites. So the list above of free online tools are my hard earned Web Doctor Diagnostic toolkit. Most are free and online. But there are a number of tools that offer 24 hour monitoring features or global testing in the style of Key CDN.
But as promised here are my top 3 tools:
No 1 is Website Grader because it gives me a broad diagnosis of the state of a Website as well as a reading on speed
No 2 is Pingdom because its fine dispay of load time results [but I use GTMetrix too].
No 3 is DareBoost for its specialized speed test insights.
But actually I am thankful that there are so many free and effective speed monitoring tools – they are vital in tracking down Website speed problems.And if you think this list is formidable, wait until you see my follow up review of free online SEO tools.