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Can you measure how fast (or slow) your website loads?

Mar

Can you measure how fast (or slow) your website loads?

Got a shiny new website? That’s great. Had a website for a while? Also great. Got a slow loading website? Maybe not so great.

Websites are valuable tools for businesses, especially in the awareness and trust phases of a customers journey.

Awareness: Helping potential customers find that your business exists in the first place.

Trust: Helping to develop trust in potential customers for your business, product and/or service.

However one of the enemies of websites is slow loading speed.

Unfortunately, for every website that loads slowly, there will be a percentage of visitors who are not willing to wait and will move on to the next one.


Causes of slow loading websites

There are many potential causes of a slow loading website:

Slow website host

    1. A website host is a company that sells the space to build websites on. They essentially sell you a piece of “real estate” on the internet which will hold your website. your piece of real estate sits on their computers, which are called servers.
    2. When someone visits your website, the website host’s servers will send them a copy of your website to view.
    3. Therefore the load speed for the visitor will be at least partially determined by how fast these servers are. If they are too slow, the visitor will have a poor experience when loading your website.
    4. If you have a slow host, you can generally switch to a faster website hosting company quite easily.

Slow network

    1. I’m sure you all have been on the internet trying to load websites and the whole thing is just slow.
    2. If you try to load a website and it seems to load slow, try loading another site or two. If they are also slow, it may be a congested network that is the issue.
    3. Like our electricity network, the internet also experiences peak times of use (e.g. in the evening when everyone gets home from school and work).
    4. Loading sites during peak times may give the impression of slow websites when it’s actually a slow network.

Your website is actually loading slow

    1. This happens, especially over time as you load more and more onto the site.
    2. Common issues can be images on your site.
    3. They should be sized and optimised before loading them onto your website so they are big enough to be seen clearly on your site, but not so big that they slow down your website load times.
    4. Aside from images, there are also a lot of things going on in the background of websites. The more of these background events that happen, the slower your site is likely to load.

How to measure your websites loading speed

This is quite easy to do. Many organisations have developed free tools to help measure website loading speeds. Let’s take a quick look at one of these, Pingdom Tools.

https://tools.pingdom.com/

Pingdom Tools offer a range of products, at a range of price points. The good news is that their website speed test is offered as a free service (by the way, we have no affiliation with this company, we just think this might be useful for some of you).

When you visit their website:

  1. You will be asked to enter a URL.
    1. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is just the fancy term for your website address.
    2. Load your website and then copy and paste it into the URL field.
  2. Next, you will be asked to enter the Test From field.
    1. This is a drop-down list, that once clicked on will show you a number of locations around the world.
    2. Choosing one of these locations will be choosing where the computer that performs the test will be located.
    3. For most of you reading this article, you will likely be located somewhere across southern or western New South Wales, so choose Pacific-Australia-Sydney.
  3. Once you’ve entered both these fields, you are ready to test your websites speed. Click the Start Test button and wait a bit for the test to run.

Results

When the test finishes, it will display Your Results.

This will show a range of data. The main ones we want to look at initially will be the Performance Grade (a letter and a number e.g. C 71), and the Load Time (measures in seconds e.g. 6.71 s).

Performance Grade

This consists of both a letter (from A-E) and a number (between 1-100) and is a ranking that Pingdom Tools assigns to your site based on the measurements they have taken during the test.

Achieving A 100 will mean you achieved the best possible score, but I doubt there is any site in the world that has actually achieved this.

If your site is less, then we need to ascertain if it is critically slow, or still actually operates at an acceptable speed for visitors. Move on to the Load Time result.

Load Time

This is the actual time in seconds your site took to load during the Pingdom Tools test.

Compare your results to ours

How bad did you do? Or good?

As a comparison, try loading the BEC’s website by clicking on our link here: https://becadvice.com.au/

Did your site load slowly for you? We actually scored a Performance Grade of C 71, and a load Time of 6.14 s.

But importantly, how was the load time of our site for you? If it was too slow, then our normal visitors may lose patience and go elsewhere. If it was fine for you, then hopefully it is fine for our other visitors.

Did your site do worse than ours?

Hopefully, you found that our site loaded in an acceptable time frame for you, and that was with a Performance Grade of C.

If your site did worse in the test than ours, then depending on the scores it may be heading towards too slow.


What can you do if your site loads too slow?

If your website loads slowly, then the Pingdom Tools test is actually a great resource to help work out what needs to be done to your site to make it load quicker.

The downside is, it’s a bit daunting. The tool provides a lot of data and a lot of it is likely unfamiliar to you.

If you’re unsure of the next step to take, then you can contact a member of our Digital Solutions team.

We can help interpret the results, and also help identify possible solutions. For example, if your website was built using WordPress, then there are a range of plugins that can help to optimise your site and get it loading faster.


Need help?

If you have any questions about this article, or how we can help you, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our Digital Solutions team have advisors who are experienced in websites, social media, marketing and software to mention a few, and for any business who possesses an ABN, then you are entitled to four hours of free advice with us, subsidised by the Australian Government under the Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) Digital Solutions program.

The Digital Solutions team

Michael Douglass

Digital Advisor

T: 0401 924 444

E: mdouglass@becadvice.com.au

Learn more about the Digital Solutions program and team here.