Site speed is a big thing nowadays, especially in the modern era of mobile technology, so you will certainly want to be know how your site performs when it comes to loading speed.
Before we go into how you can analyse your site let’s just take a look at Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and what it doesn’t tell you. First of all, it is a great tool and one which you should definitely use to make your site faster and more effective, but let’s think about what it really does. Essentially it crawls your website and looks at the code, and from there it give you recommendations on what you get do to improve the way your site is coded as well as other areas that you can improve to decrease the time it takes for your website to load. Some examples of this would be to optimise your images, enable compression and leverage browser caching. So in essence what PageSpeed Insights is telling you is ways to improve your your website and make it faster, but what it doesn’t tell you is just how quick it loads (although it does include your server response time amongst it’s criteria). In order to find out exactly how fast your website loads you need a tool to measure it, and tell you exactly how long it takes, and that is where GTmetrix comes in.
Taking A Look At GTmetrix
GTmetrix is easy to use and will tell you exactly how long your website takes to load along with recommendations of what you can do to improve the load time. Just visit GTmetrix and enter your url and it will scan your site and give you a breakdown of your results, which will look something like this:
So we can see the score looks pretty good, but the loading time of 2.8 seconds was a little higher than we wanted for the home page. We had optimised everything and got the whole page down to around 1mb, so we thought it should really load a bit quicker. Now let’s take a bit of closer look at the results and you will see that the “Test Server Region” is in Canada which makes the 2.8 seconds seem a bit better seeing as it is quite a distance from our UK target market.
Customising The Analysis
You can signup free to GTmetrix and when you do this you can change some of the settings of the test to give you a more accurate idea of how well your page is loading in the location most of your visitors will be from. After signing up go to “User Settings” and scroll down to “Analysis Options”.
From here you can change the location of the test server, the browser and the test connection, allowing you to test your website’s load speed with an array of different variables so you can make a much more informed decision about any areas of your website you should focus on for improvements.
We decided to change the test server location to London and the desktop browser to chrome, and the difference in the results was pretty significant.
The load time was reduced by 2 seconds taking it to a tiny 0.8 seconds to load on an unthrottled internet connection. This suddenly sounds a lot better and a much less cause for concern. Any changes we could make to get it lower would only reduce the load by maybe point two of a second, which would likely have little to no effect on the performance of the website.
What About Mobile?
The next step is to check how fast your site is on mobile. We did this by testing on an Android browser. Unfortunately we couldn’t test this on a London server, but we could on the Vancouver server we used to test the site on Desktop previously to enable us to have an accurate comparison. Here’s what we got:
Coming up at 4.3 seconds it is a second and a half longer than on desktop, which suggests that maybe there could be a few areas we could optimise further, but given the location of the test server and the difference when testing with the London server we can probably assume that we can knock at least a couple of seconds off this time if not slightly more, and a 2 second load time on mobile is not the worst situation to have.
Hopefully you now have a good idea of what you can do with GTmetrix and you can test your own site to see how it performs. The key thing to consider when doing these kind of tests is if it accurately represents the conditions the majority of your visitors will have. So adjust the settings GTmetrix give you to get it as close as you can to your target audience to get the most accurate and relevant results. If you are not happy with your results and would like help improving them you can always contact us and we will be happy to take a look and let you know what we can do to get your website loading in a super quick time!