Webpagetest Provides a Consummate Free Web Page Performance Analysis

Webpagetest.org is a consummate FREE web page testing network with rich page load and visual performance data as well as Google’s pagespeed optimization recommendations.

Don’t be afraid of it. It won’t bite and this stuff is important :) Use it early and often and track the key metrics over time and before and after website and web hosting changes.

This is not a web performance monitoring service. It allows you to run a test for a single web page (or a scripted transaction) in most of the popular browsers and some mobile devices as well.

Let’s run a test of my website and see the results together. I’m just going to enter my URL:  apmexaminer.com and click the “start test” button.

web page test - screenshot - start

At that point your test is queued up to run and after less than a minute a report on web performance and user experience is presented.  There is a summary table of key performance metrics, a small version of the waterfall fullpage performance report for a first visit to your site and then a returning user.

The summary table at the top presents key performance timings.

I think the 3 most important are:

First byte – the time it takes until the website responds with the first packet of data after the page is requested. This is a key measure of your website’s latency.

First render – when the browser begins to visually paint the web page so the user can see it

Fully loaded time – how long it takes to retrieve every resource from the internet needed to render your web page

You can read what all the timings mean here.

web page test - screenshot - results1

The most interesting view can be seen by clicking the link to the right of the screenshot that says “Filmstrip view.”  This view aligns the visual rendering of the tested web page with the fullpage resource waterfall report.

This view let’s you see how the web browser visually  renders the web page over time as the web page assets are loading.

web page test - screenshot - visual performance

Did you try it on your web page?
How long does it take before your website starts to render?
Most leading websites these days are beginning to deliver user experience in around 1 second.

When you look at the filmstrip view move the slider under the screenshots back and forth and the corresponding line representing which content is downloading at that point is shown vertically in the waterfall report below.

Use the “performance review” section, which displays Google pagespeed optimization recommendations to prioritize improvements and focus on the resources that get loaded leading up to visual rendering first.

Are you using the free tools I’m sharing to take ownership of user experience and performance for your website?

Webpagetest was developed by Patrick Meenan of Google. Patrick’s contribution to the web performance space is significant.

Browsers supported: IE 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, Firefox, Chrome
Mobile devices supported: iPhone4, iPad, Nexus S

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