Website conversions drop by nearly 5% for each second your website takes to load; it’s important to get that page up to users as fast as possible. You need quick performance, speedy content, and responsive servers.
But how do you ensure that your website is up to scratch? What do you actually measure, why, and how?
This article will explain the ins and outs of performance testing tools. By the end, you should have a solid idea of what you need to do to check your website for bumps in the road. This way, you can discuss the issues up-front with your IT department and ensure your website runs in as smooth of a manner as possible.
What Are Performance Testing Tools?
You can perform several tests on a website to ensure it is loading and rendering fast for its users. Also, with these tools, you can measure any interaction that is not related to loading data. For example, you can get information on where rendering or processing bottlenecks exist.
When wondering how to test your website, some of the different methods of testing that you can use are as follows:
Capacity Testing: Determining how many users can use the site at the same time. Or, this may mean checking to see how many interactions you and others can perform simultaneously.
Endurance Testing: Checking to see if a website can handle a significant load for an extended period of time. This is usually done to check there are no memory leaks or other long-term issues.
Load Testing: A type of Performance test, you can do this to see if the website can handle a significant load of upload and download at the same time. Also, to check if the rest of the hardware can cope with large amounts of stress.
Performance Testing: Performance testing ensures that the website is fast to load, responsive to users, and scalable based on the dynamic needs of the site. This is especially true if it needs to load or handle a sizeable database at any time.
Stress Testing: Also a type of Performance testing. When you perform this test, it simulates an extreme user load on a website. It allows the tester to see if there are issues with synchronization between many users and the server in heavy load.
Why Do I Need Performance Testing Tools?
There are several reasons why someone might want to ensure their website is working at top speed. Each one, when not handled, can have a significant impact on your customer retention or user flow.
One of the most significant stats you will want to be testing is “TTFB” or the “Time to First Byte.” TTFB is the amount of time it takes from when users interact with your site to when they receive their first packet of data. It is an excellent indicator of how your website is going to run moving forward.
Optimizing TTFB is one of the most significant ways to ensure you get off the ground running with your customers. Their user experience can significantly impact how they view your site and the kind of returns you can expect. If TTFB is too high, you should look into solutions to resolve it to prevent hemorrhaging users.
Performance testing tools will be able to search for high TTFB or other variables that are problematic in a similar way. You can then work to prevent it from happening in the future once you know the problem exists.
There are several different reasons – including overloading a server – why you may end up with very long times to load an entire webpage. Even if the backbone of a page has loaded, users may find that it takes even more time to load its content. This can be a double-whammy for some users who expect to see what they are looking for, only to meet a spinner or loading bar.
Should this occur, the user experience will deteriorate by a significant amount. Users will bounce fast to other sites that may answer their questions or otherwise solve their issues.
Users will rarely tell you themselves when this happens. They will not yet have invested in your site if they visit for the first time and will not feel beholden to assisting you. For this reason, you need to test for this possibility yourself.
Other possibilities of why your site may be running slow could be due to dead code. For example, your website could be blocking the rendering of its content until it has run through several code subroutines. This could stop users from progressing with their use of the site.
Performance testing tools may not find the specific line in your code causing a problem like this. But they could be a valuable tool in your arsenal of diagnostics.
Such tools can help you determine the specific place and time where your site runs into bottlenecks. You can then use this information to debug the site and fixes to free up users’ computers to render the site on time.
What Performance Testing Tools Are Available?
You can use several methods to measure a website’s ability to load and render properly. Using them well can mean the difference between a sticky user and one that bounces straight to another site. For that reason, we have provided a list of performance testing tools available to you now:
Google Page Speed Insights
This tool for coders and admins can give you detailed insights into how your website runs. You can input your website’s URL, and the tool will provide you with a score for whatever website you are testing.
Along with the general score, you will also get several recommendations about making the site better. If you do these, you can then move on to the next set of recommendations again and again until the site is perfect.
The site creates its insight scores with a service called Lighthouse. Lighthouse is a tool developed by Google and intended to help admins and developers improve web pages all over the Internet. It focuses on the accessibility and performance of web pages and several other factors to give its report.
Google’s tools can also give you information on whether you are using best practices while displaying your website. It also has a target Search Engine Optimization score it will provide you with feedback on.
This score is not always linked to your performance but can also give you insights you would not otherwise have.
As a paid alternative to Google Page Speed Insights, Pingdom Tools could have been overpriced. Instead, its unique selling point is that it offers different information that can be useful to you.
Google’s offering lets you know how your site is running at that specific time. Instead, Pingdom Tools gives you information on your website over the long term.
Pingdom Tools can display several different pieces of information. For example, uptime information, real-time monitoring of your website, and ongoing page speed stats. This allows you to have a live overview of your website’s health at any time.
This can be especially useful to you as a growing company. As your popularity grows, you will want to keep an eye on if your website can handle the load of additional data requests. Pingdom Tools can let you see if it is starting to get too much to handle.
Also, you may end up with a sudden peak of use due to “going viral” or something similar. In this situation, this tool can help you understand when that will happen. Once you have that information, you can install extra infrastructure where necessary.
Pingdom Tools is not only beneficial for developers. In offering the same tools to the rest of your company, tips for speeding up your WordPress website can be valuable to several teams.
Your marketing team, for example, can use it to gather insights on how best to promote your company. Your IT technicians can also use it for internal tools and ensure your company’s internal security. They can do this by using its insights to work out if malicious activity occurs at any time.
Like Pingdom Tools, GTMetrix offers visibility on how a specific web presence is handling its work. You can use it to analyze and watch website speeds. Also, you can use it to investigate opportunities for optimization or otherwise improve an online presence.
GTMetrix also offers suggestions on how to improve your site. This can help when attempting to debug ongoing issues.
GTMetrix also makes use of other tools across the market. It can culminate reports from other locations that perform similar roles and give you the results from all of them at once.
This can save you from needing to access sites such as Google Page Speed or YSlow. It can thus speed up the process of improving your website to a significant amount.
When Not to Trust These Tools
While these tools are inherently helpful, there will be times when they do not suit your needs. As all companies are different, you should know what situations you should not trust what these tools recommend.
Google Page Speed Insights
Google Page Speed Insights is suitable for testing for issues that may impact your web page’s speed. But the tool is not good for measuring the speed itself. While it can tell you whether the site can enjoy further optimization, no page speed tests occur when it runs.
If you wish to test page speed itself, for auditing purposes, or your marketing teams, you will have to look elsewhere. In summary, if you find that Google Page Speed Insights informs you of several issues, you can rest assured that the speed is not as fast as it can be.
While Pingdom Tools displays vast arrays of information on your site’s health, it only allows this to work for one user. Should you be a part of a company that needs many logins for the same account, you will find yourself at a loss. You must make separate accounts for each individual.
This site’s abundance of information also does not come with any customizability, meaning that if you were looking for more detail than the presets the website gives you, you would be out of luck.
There is minimal granular reporting available with Pingdom Tools. If this is a sticking point, you will need to either accept it or try different monitoring methods.
While GTMetrix has information on how to improve your website based on several metrics, it has its limitations. For example, it is central to the USA and does not support other locations. This means that if you ask it to test sites hosted elsewhere, it may give you incorrect information.
If you wish to test your website, you may also have to wait. GTMetrix has limitations in that if several users are making use of it at once, there may be a wait time. This is not always the case but could make the difference between selecting GTMetrix or another option.
Why Your Hosting Provider Matters
Not every website host is created equal. If you have a WordPress or WooCommerce site and aren’t using a managed WP hosting solution designed with WordPress in mind, your website’s performance will suffer. A WordPress optimized host – like Pressable – offers lightning-fast performance, strong reliability, and dedicated support services that can help you with both general and WordPress-specific issues.
Get in contact with our specialists. They will answer any questions you have and talk about what we can offer you to ensure your website runs at peak performance.
Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.