5 Resources You Can Use To Test Your Website’s Performance Right Now

Online resources to measure and monitor website download speed

Car speedometer
Car speedometer.

For a website to be successful, it must work well on a variety of devices. Just as importantly, it must load quickly on those devices, regardless of a visitor’s connection speed.

A website that load quickly creates a better overall user experience (after all, no one ever said “Wow, that website loaded too fast for me!”). Web performance is also one of the factors that Google takes into account in their ranking algorithm.

A fast-loading site is more appealing to search engines and more enjoyable for people to use.

Being able to evaluate your site’s speed (and understanding where improvements can be made) is an important component of website success. Here are 5 tools that you can use to test your website’s performance today.

1. Dotcom Monitor

Dotcom Monitor will “Instantly test your website speed in real browsers from 23 locations worldwide.” You will be able to see information like the overall size of the webpage you are testing, the load time, and the number of HTTP requests that it makes to get resources like images and other files necessary to display that page in the browser.

In addition to this high-level information, you can drill down to get a detailed breakdown of how the various resources your site uses (images, scripts, CSS, etc.) contribute to its download performance. If you are looking to make improvements in your site’s download speed, knowing what the biggest contributors are to its overall size is especially important to know.

While the service on Dotcom Monitor is offered for free, they do also offer a paid subscription option if you want your site to be regularly monitored instead of having to manually conduct those tests.

2. Google PageSpeed Insights

As I mentioned earlier, overall page speed is one of the factors that Google considers in their rankings.

In an effort to help web developers improve their site’s performance and their overall search engine rankings, they have created PageSpeed Insights.

One of the nice things about PageSpeed Insights is that it goes beyond just giving you specs on the page it has analyzed. Google’s tool also offers a number of suggestions for improvement, many of which may not even be in the site’s HTML/CSS, but are server improvements that could be used to speed up load time – and since these suggestions are coming straight from Google, following their advice has a great chance of helping you improve your site’s overall rankings.

3. Pingdom Tools

Pingdom Tools is one of the more well-known and popular performance assessment websites. It will give you similar information to the aforementioned Dotcom Monitor (number of requests, load time, page size) and it also has a detailed breakdown of each element of a page and what the performance impact of that element was. They also offer recommendations for improvement.

One area of Pingdom Tools that may be confusing is the “performance grade.” This number seems somewhat arbitrary at times. I have run multiple tests on the same site and gotten different performance grades, although nothing on the site had changed.

If you do decide to use Pingdom Tools, I suggest that you take this performance grade statistic with a grain of salt and use the more concrete data instead.

4. Webpage Test

WebPageTest is a similar tool to both Dotcom Monitor and Pingdom, offering much of the same information plus some helpful tips for optimization. The main difference between this resource and those others is the way that information is presented. Both Dotcom Monitor and Pingdom present the information in a more user-friendly way, while WebPageTest is seemingly more targeted at web professionals. Depending on your level of expertise and comfort with technical information, this resource may be more to your liking than those more beginner-focused ones.

5. WebSiteOptimization                                                       

The Web Page Analyzer from WebsiteOptimization.com falls somewhere between those layman-friendly tools (Dotcom Monitor and Pingdom) and the more technically advanced presentation of WebpageTest.

The information is not presented in a graphically friendly way like on some of these other sites, but one of the nice things about this resource is that all the data that is returned is presented on a single page. All of the other resources require you to click through numerous pages to drill down to get the data, so if you are just looking for a one-page overview of stats, along with some useful “analysis and recommendation” tips, this one may be worth a try.

Bonus: What Does My Site Cost?

For a very different way to evaluate your site’s download performance, you can also visit What Does My Site Cost? This site shows you what the average person in various countries would have to pay in terms to load your site from a mobile network. It is, of course, not a 100% accurate look since there are so many variables that go into that scenario, but the data is does provide can be used at a high-level to get an understanding of your site’s mobile performance and what the cost impact it has on your visitors is.

In Summary

These are just a handful of online tools that you can use to evaluate your site’s performance and get recommendations on how that performance can be improved. This information can also be used as you try to establish a performance budget for a website.

As you can see from this article, many of these resources share things in common. After all, there are only so many ways to present the same performance data. If you are interested in evaluating your site’s performance, you should give each of these a try to see which one works best for your needs.

Edited by Jeremy Girard on 1/14/17