Website Performance Testing

Category: Webmaster

A newly designed Web site is like a shiny clean car. It looks great but you don't know how good it really is until you test-drive it. It's very important to test the performance of your Web site before it must endure heavy traffic. In fact, it's best to test Web site performance while you are building the site, so you can optimize bottlenecks as soon as they appear. Here's how to do it...

Website Performance Testing

How to Test and Improve Website Performance

There's nothing worse than sending away potentially paying customers with a 'Server Too Busy' error message or a site that loads so slowly it makes visitors yearn for the experience of watching paint dry on a wall. Web site performance testing is multifaceted. You have to take into account the factors that affect speed on both the server and the client (user) side.

One thing that matters is response time or "latency" - the amount of time that passes from the instant your Web server receives an HTTP request for a page, to the instant the server sends the page to the requesting browser. This can be affected by the horsepower of the server that runs your website, and by the quality of the Internet connection it has. Upgrading the server's CPU, RAM and hard drive can have a big impact on the ability of your website to respond to users, especially if you get hit with a sudden rush of traffic. And if you expect heavy traffic, use a web hosting service that offers dedicated servers (as opposed to shared or virtual servers) and has a heavy duty pipeline connecting it to the Internet.

On the user end, rendering time is critical; that's the amount of time it takes for a browser to read your Web page's HTML code and display to the user what the code instructs the browser to display. There are many variations of rendering speed, and ways to optimize it. For example: if text is the most important part of your Web page, then you want to write HTML code that displays the text before it fetches and displays images or video. That way the user has something interesting to read while pretty pictures are loading more slowly. To make your pages load faster, consider minimizing the size of your images, and using Javascript judiciously.

Compatibility with various browsers is also critical. Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are used by the vast majority of Web surfers, with IE users outnumbering Firefox users by about 2.5 to 1. The lazy Web developer writes only for IE, and that results in many lost visitors. Microsoft's version of HTML does not fully comply with the open standard of the World Wide Web Consortium, so what works in IE may look horrible or not work at all in other browsers. Even obsolete versions of browsers must be taken into account. Many users don't bother to upgrade to the latest version of their browsers, so a Web page may have to be written in several versions for "dumber" browsers.

Web site performance testing is a complex business, as you now know. Fortunately, there are many free tools, online and desktop based, which make Web site performance testing quick and nearly painless. (It's the fixing of bugs and optimizing of performance that takes a lot of time.)

Web Page Analyzer is a Web app that examines many metrics of performance for any given Web page. Just past the page's URL into the Analyzer's query box, or paste your raw HTML code into another box. The Analyzer calculates the size of the various elements specified in your Web page and reports their estimated rendering speeds. It also gives you recommendations on how to optimize your page's performance. But note: this app does not actually load your Web page or measure its actual performance in use! Another app does that. will test a given URL by loading its page from a specified location. This gives you an idea of how fast your page loads for users in popular places like Dulles, VA; San Jose, CA; Amsterdam; etc. You can also specify a testing browser, and the user's hypothetical connection speed.

My favorite tool for website performance testing is Google Webmaster Tools. Diagnostic tools let you scan your site for malware, linking errors, and will suggest changes to your HTML for increased performance. In the Labs section, the "site performance" tool shows you performance stats, and how your site stacks up against others. It also provides lots of tips for improving the speed of your site, such as enabling gzip compression, minimizing DNS lookups, and combining your external files, such as CSS and Javascript.

Use these tools to evaluate the performance of your website and get suggestions on how to improve it. The improved user experience that results will benefit both you and those who visit your site.

Do you have something to say about website performance testing? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Website Performance Testing"

Posted by:

08 Aug 2010

I used this site to check , there have many tools for webmasters

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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved