8 Free Tools to Test Your Website’s Performance.

That’s it, you’ve finished creating your site, and it’s just as you wanted it in terms of design and content. But have you thought about testing your website’s performance?

Testing a site’s performance is an essential step in visualizing what’s taking too long to load, so that you can make the necessary corrections.

Indeed, a slow site means saying goodbye to the hope of good SEO and hello to a high bounce rate.

In this article, you’ll discover the importance of performance testing for websites, as well as 8 free tools to help you carry it out.

Why test your site’s performance?

To be well ranked by Google and other search engines

If you want to rank well with search engines like Google, quality content is not enough.

Your site also needs to perform well in terms of display speed, interactivity and visual stability.

In fact, Mister Google has made user experience an official ranking factor with its Core Web Vitals.

And Core Web Vitals means essential metrics, including:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP ), which evaluates the loading time required for the page to display the main elements on the user’s screen.

But also, the First Input Delay (FID), which measures the time elapsed between the moment a visitor first interacts with your site by clicking on a button, link or other until the moment the browser responds to this request.

And finally, the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which lists unexpected layout changes that can disrupt the visitor, such as content that suddenly shifts.

In short, to be considered high-performance in Google’s eyes, your site should have an LCP of less than 2.5 seconds, an FID of less than 100 MS and a CLS of less than 0.1.

To limit the bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your site and leave after visiting just one page.

It’s even said that the probability of a bounce increases by 32% as page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, and even worse per additional second(s). (Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017)

GTmetrix performance test results
As far as the results are concerned, you get an overall alphabetical score. This represents a weighted average of the performance score (70%) and the structure score (30%).

You also get the results for the Web Vitals metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Total Blocking Time (TBT – FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

GTmetrix then generates a summary with :

Visualization of page loading speed
The main problems identified
A graph with page details. (complete loading time, size and number of requests and breakdown by request)
Then click on the various tabs to obtain :

1 – Detailed performance indicators and browser timings for :

First Contentful Paint (FCP)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Speed Index (SI)
Total Blocking Time (TBT)
Time To Interactive (TTI)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
2 – The page structure with the various successful and unsuccessful audits and solutions to be implemented

3 – A waterfall graph with a request-by-request view of page loading

4 – Test history

You can also compare your URL with one or more others.

And you also have the option of sharing your report via Facebook, Twitter or a copy-and-paste link.

I strongly advise you to create a free account in order to :

  • Keep your report data for 3 months
  • Download a PDF version of GTmetrix reports
  • Choose a test location other than Vancouver
  • Modify connection speeds
  • Create a video of the page loading and download it as an MP4 file
  • Get video iframe code for integration
  • Block Ads
  • Perform 50 weekly on-demand tests
  • Get 10 daily API Credits (great if you’re a dev and want to test the GTmetrix API)
  • Monitor one page daily
  • Access system resource usage graphs

Performance test results with WebPageTest

Once the test is complete, the results will be divided into several tabs:

  • Summary
  • Details with a waterfall view
  • Web Vitals
  • Performance
  • Content
  • Domains
  • Processing
  • Screen capture
  • Image analysis (a tab opens and Cloud nary analyzes images)

After inserting the page URL, if your site has had enough traffic on mobile and desktop in the last 90 days, an Essential Web Signals evaluation is displayed. It includes the scores obtained over the previous 28 days and an indication of success or failure.

Next, you’ll see the scores you’ve achieved for performance, accessibility, best practices and SEO.

  • 0 to 49 (red): Bad
  • 50 to 89 (orange): Needs improvement
  • 90 to 100 (green): Good

To switch between mobile and computer scores, simply click on the mobile or computer buttons.

Test your site’s performance with the aim of improving it.

Testing your site’s performance is something you really shouldn’t neglect. Especially now that you have a range of free tools at your disposal.

Afterwards, don’t forget to follow up the suggestions for improvement provided and apply the appropriate corrective measures.

In many cases, installing an optimization and caching plugin and setting it up (correctly) won’t be enough. You’ll also need to optimize your images, fonts, JavaScript and CSS.

Then, of course, you’ll need to think about improving your site’s accessibility and, of course, its SEO.

What tools do you use?

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