Website speedometerDoes your website load in 2.4 seconds or 240? With today’s high broadband penetration, many people have started to take load times for granted. I run into more and more websites that take a long time to load due to bad coding, gratuitous (and risky) use of widgets, an ungodly amount of embedded media, etc. Yesterday even Techcrunch was brough down due to these issues. If your pages are slow to load, people won’t come back. Here are some ways to speed test your website:

1. The very basic speed test

In last week’s webmaster tools post Lee mentioned iwebtool’s speed check which returns the size and estimated loading time of any site. The tool is pretty basic though – it only gives you the size of the page itself (and not anything else). You can get this same info by running a Google search for your site using “site:[yourdomain.com]” – it will return the size of the page next to the domain.

Results for AU Interactive blog: 21.7 Kb in iwebtool and 22 Kb in Google.

Web page speed report

2. Old school Web Page Speed Report

This tool has existed for ages. It gives you a succinct breakdown of the number of objects, http requests, and download times estimates. The recommendations at the bottom are pretty stringent (by today’s standards). One drawback is that the tool doesn’t take into account external scripts or load times caused by objects called by them, which in reality isn’t the whole picture.

Results for AU Interactive blog: 51.2 Kb

Basic website speed test results

3. The Firebug Website Speed Test

This method requires that you install the Firefox extension Firebug (which is free and open source). It’s definitely worth it though because it gives you the most complete picture of how your website loads. After installing the extension – open up firebug (bottom right check-mark in your Firefox window) and click on the “Net” tab, then load your website. It will show you in real time how the elements load along with their size and download speed. This lets you pinpoint bottlenecks and elements that slow down your site. You can even break them up by type (html, css, javascript, flash). This method shows you all the objects that are loaded, even those that are called by external javascript. This, in my opinion, is by far the best way to speed test your website.

Results for AU Interactive blog: 149 Kb (30 from cache)

Firebug speed test results

Using method 3 (Firebug) I was able to see that Feedbutton (which I’ve since removed) was causing 11+ second delays in load time on this website. Do yourself and your visitors a favor and test the load times of your sites. Do it. C’mon. Do it.