Sarah Saker

Four of the Best Tools to Increase Website Speed

By: Sarah Saker | May 10, 2018 | 
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Four of the Best Tools to Increase Website SpeedYou can have the best content in the world, but it won’t mean anything unless your website speed is fast and loads quickly for your readers.

Thirty-nine percent of internet users will leave a website with pages or images that take too long to load.

This proves that web users simply do not have the patience to wait around for anything.

There’s always another website waiting to take your place if you’re not fast enough.

Best Website Speed Optimization Practices

In this article, we’ll take a look at some useful tools which offer a detailed report on the state of the website speed.

But before we get to that, let’s review some good website speed optimization practices for your web pages.

  • Compressing Images. To decrease page loading times, compress and resize your images before uploading to your website. According to SearchEngineLand, an entire page should never be more than one megabyte, including all images and content. Most content management system’s don’t compress the image at all, or they do a poor job.
  • Choosing the Right Font. More people are using custom fonts for their websites nowadays, and this can affect website speed quite a lot. KeyCDN compares some of the most popular web fonts and concludes that Web Open Font Format is the best because it supports 86 percent of browsers. You can also optimize use by choosing a few styles you’ll need such as bold and italic.
  • Reduce Redirects. If possible, get rid of redirects as they can affect website speed. This is especially important for mobile browsing because the mobile network is less stable than desktop. There are two main types of redirects: server-side redirects, such as 301, and client-side redirects. According to Varvy, the server-side redirects are faster. These are better to have as they help Google navigate your website.
  • Use Browser Caching. You can also use browser caching to ensure your page loads faster for visitors who’ve previously gone to your website. Caching saves some of the files necessary for your website to work—HTML, CSS, JavaScript files, and images. Not only can these files cause issues due to their size, but they can also overburden the server with individual requests. Gift of Speed offers a detailed guide on how to enable caching for Apache and Windows Servers.

You’ll need to invest some time optimizing your pages so they’ll run smoothly. That will improve both user experience and SEO.

Thankfully, there are dozens of free tools out there which test your website speed and offer in-depth analysis.

Following are some favorites.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Because everything we do on our websites revolves around pleasing Google, they should be the first one to consult for testing website speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights offers a grading system from zero to 100. You should aim for a score of more than 80.

And in case you were wondering, the Google.com page scores a 99/100.

Now there are two separate website speed factors: above-the-fold loading time and full-page loading time.

The first refers to the part of the page you see when you reach the website and is the first thing that loads.

However, according to WP-Rocket, you shouldn’t put all your faith in PageSpeed Insights.

It turns out, their recommendations are general guidelines, and sometimes aren’t worth your time.

Is there a better website speed tool then? There might be.

Pingdom

One of the most popular tools for testing website speed is Pingdom.

It offers a comprehensive overview of your pages and highlights the problems. Pingdom has a beautiful design and is ideal for beginners.

How do you use it? Simply enter the website you want to test and choose one of the available testing locations.

Then, you’ll see a summary of your performance. But if you scroll further down, you’ll find even more details and insights.

And if you’re looking for something specific, use the filter to narrow your search and check the different performances of file requests.

A subscription to Pingdom (which is a bit pricey) allows you to monitor website speed every minute and track changes.

This is quite useful when you’re making various small tweaks to your site.

According to Value Penguin, Pingdom has more than 700,000 users on the web, including Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify.

Considering how popular those sites are, Pingdom must be doing something right.

GT Metrix

The first thing you’ll notice about GT Metrix is its slick and beautiful design.

As soon as you enter your website address and click analyze, you’ll see animation eye candy while you wait.

In the meantime, you can read the interesting facts and statistics about the tool.

The tool divides your results into four main sections—PageSpeed, YSlow, Waterfall, and Timings.

These sections offer detailed information and recommendations on your website speed.

If you choose to become a registered user, you’ll receive one extra perk—a recording of the loading process, so you can visually pinpoint problems and glitches.

Something to keep in mind is that some of these tools don’t use real browsers but instead, use emulated browsers.

Apparently, PageSpeed Insights from Google does this, which is why it can sometimes offer misleading results.

GT Metrix uses real browsers to test user interface and make sure everything loads properly.

WebPageTest

The last tool we’re looking at is WebPageTest which, at first glance, looks quite old-school. However, this mighty tool has a lot of surprises in store.

The first thing you’ll notice is it offers 38 test regions with various browsers and operating systems.

Why is this important?

When testing website speed, you need to think about the location of your target audience.

If your website focuses on North America, you don’t care about the loading speed in China, right?

Advanced settings let you choose the type of connection you want to test, how many repetitions you want, and more.

You can even choose your preferences for every browser, individually. There are many details, and most of the content is free.

One interesting feature you should try is Visual Comparison. It lets you input some URLs and compare them visually over time.

For example, WebPageTest ran a test on Google and Yahoo pages to demonstrate how it works.

Besides the visual presentation, you also get raw data, charts, and things you didn’t even know you needed.

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All of these tools are helpful for determining website speed.

And depending on your personal preference, needs, and ultimately, the amount of data you want to see, one of these will work perfectly for your website.

A quick summary:

  • Google SpeedSite Insights is great for beginners and remains a reference point for all other tools out there.
  • Pingdom is extremely popular and offers a fair amount of data, though you might have to pay for additional perks.
  • GT Metrix gives you a beautiful presentation that is easy to follow and straight-forward.
  • WebPageTest offers countless options and numerous tweaks that any advanced user will certainly appreciate.

Which tools do you use to gauge website speed?

About Sarah Saker


Sarah Saker is the outreach manager of Design Rush.

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