Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Test the Website Speed Effectively – Popular Tools Introduced

updated on May 02, 2017
How to Test the Website Speed Effectively – Popular Tools Introduced Performance optimization is a long-lasting topic for all website owners since fast speed is critical for high search engine rankings and good user experience. Therefore, we have introduced various ways for speed improvement, such as optimizing the images, cleaning up the database, and enabling cache.

However, do you really know the performance of your website before adopting the speeding-up methods? There are tons of tools online that help with the estimation. Some are good, while some provide less accurate results.

Considering this, we will introduce and analyze the most popular tools that enable you to test the speed of your website so that you can find the best for you. You can easily learn their usage, accurateness as well as the limitations.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights is a starting point if you want an analysis of your website content and the suggestions to optimizing the website speed. After inputting your domain, you will get a score of the speed for both mobile and desktop. Besides, there are various suggestions for the speed optimization based on Google's analysis of your content. Beginners would find a way to start when using this tool.

However, if you want accurate results of the load times, you will find Google PageSpeed Insights is helpless. It doesn't provide any loading speed in seconds at all, and instead, there is only an overall score. You may get no idea about how the score comes out.

Test Website Speed with Google PageSpeed Insights

Conclusion: Google PageSpeed Insights can help you get an overview of your website's performance, but it is not designed to offer real deep insights.

GTMetrix

GTMetrix is a popular tool that can be used for free. It generates a report for the tested site which includes the load time and the performance scores from other tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Yahoo YSlow. Also, GTMetrix highlights multiple aspects that affect the website speed and rates your performance from A to F to suggest the optimizations that you should make. You are able to download the testing result in PDF.

The report seems quite helpful. However, the problem is that the results might not be consistent if you test the same site for multiple times. For example, we tested a sample site for multiple times. For the first time, we got the load time of 5.1s, while in the next time we got 2.7s. The results were quite different each time we tested. Besides, as the tool tests the fully loaded time, the results are not accurate for those sites which have enabled lazy loading for images or videos.

Test Website Speed with GTMetrix

Conclusion: GTMetrix is not trustful enough, so it needs to improve the accuracy of the test results. But it is still a good choice if you want to find the potential performance issues of your website.

Pingdom Page Test

Pingdom is among the most well-known speed test tools that examine various parts of a webpage including the file size, load time, HTML, JavaScript, images and CSS files. It allows you to test the speed of a page from four different locations including Dallas, TX and San Jose, CA in the US, Melbourne, Australia, and Stockholm, Sweden.

Still, for a test, you only need to input the URL of a page on your website. A few seconds later, you will get the results. Pingdom not only presents the performance grade, load time and page size, but also offers a lot of insights which you can download or share easily. From our experiences of trying Pingdom for over 10 times, the load time is quite precise. Also, the insights give you many ideas about the optimization by showing you what slows down your site.

Test Website Speed with Pingdom

Conclusion: Pingdom is a great tool for keeping an eye on the website performance. It has accurate results with many details you may need, and you can sign up for free.

WebPageTest

WebPageTest is similar to GTMetrix while it allows you to preset more factors for the test. After entering a URL, you can choose the test locations and the devices, the network connection, number of tests, and more.

Test Website Speed with WebPageTest

For each test, you can get the grades for some factors, the detailed load times, and the waterfalls. The results are generally accurate, but the grades are a little unclear because there are no standards for them.

WebPageTest Test Results

Conclusion: You can certainly use this tool for speed test, but we'd suggest you not rely on it completely for the analysis. Depending on the location you choose, you may wait half an hour or even longer for the results to be displayed, which is frustrating. We do think the slow servers have added some latency to the test results. There are already many complaints about this issue.

Final Thought

In this post, we have introduced four of the most popular tools that you can use to test the website speed. Among all of them, the one we recommend most is Pingdom due to the accuracy, and then WebPageTest.

To make it easier to compare these tools, we will present the test results of the same page from the same location in the following table. Note that Google PageSpeed Insights is not included since it doesn't show the load time.

Load TimeGTMetrixPingdomWebPageTest
1st Run5.1s1.29s3.697s
2nd Run2.7s1.22s4.072s
3rd Run3.9s1.19s4.091s


In the comparison, Pingdom takes the least time to display the results, and the variation between the test results is the smallest. What's more important, the load times tested by it are closest to the real statistics we've got on our server.

However, you can still refer to the results in other tools like GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights to find out the potential performance issues.