How to Check Your Website Loading Speed
One of the major deciding factors for a first-time website visitor whether to continue browsing or leaving is the page loading speed. In this post we will talk about some of the important factors that affect how fast a website loads, and how to test your website's loading speed in order to make improvements.
When it comes to page loading speed, each web page on your website should be treated separately. While most pages will be using some common resources such as the CSS style files or JS script files, the content, image and HTML code for each page will be generally different. Hence, while testing the speed of your website and planning for optimizations, you should evaluate each important page individually.
A website that takes ages to load because its code, files and other resources are poorly used and optimized can be considered to be the number one bad web design practice, which not only takes a lot of time of the visitors while waiting for the pages to complete loading, but it also consumes a lot of their bandwidth and cause them not to want to visit the site again. Though, the website loading speed is not only related to how well it is structured and optimized.
Now, let's see what some of the factors that make a web page load longer are.
The Factors That Affect Website Loading Speed
There are many things that contribute to how fast or slow an online page loads and usually not all of them are well known or paid attention to even by seasoned webmasters. It is hard to order these factors by their importance as each may have varying weight in different situations but having a general idea about what causes a website to load faster or slower and making optimizations accordingly, will help you attain faster loading speeds.
First and foremost, the total size of your web pages, including the HTML code, CSS styles, scripts, images, videos and other resources, is the number one factor for how fast a web page will load. The amount of server-side calculations and running scripts also make a page load slower. Secondly, the location of the hosting server your site is hosted on can be listed as one of the major factors. Closely related to this, the location of the visitor in the world plays an equal role. As the distance between your website's server and the visitor grows, the latency will grow too, resulting in longer page loading times. Imagine that you are on the planet Mars and you are trying to access a website that is hosted on a server on Earth; it will take many minutes to open a web page.
The current bandwidth availability on the server that is allocated to your website and the number of active (concurrent) visitors at a given time are also important factors, as they determine how easily your pages will load. Other highly important things are the Internet connection speed of the visitor, the specifications of the device (OS, RAM, processor) and the web browser the visitor is accessing your site with. Whether scripts are disabled or not, or whether images are blocked or not also greatly affect the overall loading speed.
Size of the image files also adversely contribute to the loading speed. If you are using lots of stock images on your pages, make sure you use small-enough versions of them and optimize them as much as possible.
Now, let's continue with checking the speed of your website.
How to Check Website Loading Speed
First of all, you should keep in mind that even though there are a couple of ways for testing website loading speed, you will not get a definitive value that you can use as "My website loads in X seconds", because that value depends on many factors mentioned above.
To test how fast your website loads, you can start with doing a manual test on your own. Simply open your web browser and find a counter that shows the fraction of a second and measure the time it takes between pressing enter to visit a website in the address bar and the moment it completes loading. You can check the favicon in the title bar at the top to figure out when a web page starts and finishes loading.
Note that, the value you measure will not be the same as any other visitors who are located in different parts of the world, country or even the city. For example, people who are closer to your server location and people with faster internet connections will open your site faster. You can continue performing your personal speed tests on multiple locations and calculate the average for an estimate value.
A more effective way to test website speed is to use online tools which we will talk about below.
Check Your Website Speed with Website Speed Test Tools
Testing your website loading speed with online tools may not give highly accurate values as they work like an individual user accessing your website from a certain location with lots of things to factor it, but it will still give you a pretty good idea about how fast or slow your website is and which parts you can improve.
One of the most popular tools you can use for testing your website's speed and performance is Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.
What the PageSpeed Insights tool does is that it analyzes your website and gives a speed and performance score based on a number of parameters and rules about the use of HTML, CSS, JS, images and other resources. It also provides you with suggestions to improve your website's loading speed based on the identified issues. Simply enter your URL and hit the Analyze button to see how well your website will perform.
Another highly popular tools for checking your website speed is Pingdom.
Pingdom is one of the best website speed test tools you can find online, which creates a detailed report about your website including its page size, load time, total number of resources, response codes, request and content types, how long each file takes to load and many other useful things webmasters may need for optimizing their sites. They provide multiple locations to test your site from, which is a fantastic thing for websites targeting international users.
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Now that you know what affects website loading speed and how to do tests to measure your site's performance, you can continue with optimizing your site and files to provide a better and faster user experience to your visitors.
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