The reason businesses create websites is to get worldwide recognition and possibly profit of their products and/or services.  Search Engine Optimization, launching a social media campaign and analyzing statistics through Google are a few ways to ensure proper maintenance of your site. But all this doesn’t matter if the user is waiting at their computer screen for a page to load.  Studies have shown that users will leave a page after 4 seconds if it hasn’t loaded.  Aside from providing relevant content and images, the mechanics of how your site operates is the number one priority.  Using GTmetrix to determine the performance of your site is worth more than 4 seconds of your time if you want users to stick around.

GTmetrix

In essence, GTmetrix is a free tool that analyzes your page’s speed performance. We’ve already listed some reasons for why this is important and you may be thinking that your website it fast enough. It’s about efficiency and optimization.

Once you run your URL and test your site, you’ll be provided not only with a detailed report but recommendations on how to optimize various components of your site. Google has announced that they are using page speed in their ranking algorithm’s so it’s more important than ever to get up to “speed” with your site. Two of the major speed analysis tools are Google’s Page Speed and Yahoo’s YSlow.

Page Speed

When you analyze data of a webpage with Page Speed, it evaluates the page’s commitment to a number of rules. These are general front-end development best practices that you can apply at any point of developing a website. The Page Speed service fetches content from your servers, rewrites by applying these best practices and then servers to the end users using Google’s servers.

YSlow

YSlow is a tool that grades a web page based on one of three predefined ruleset or a user-defined ruleset. It gives suggestions for improving the page’s performance, provides a summary of the page components and displays statistics about the page.

So what is the difference?

Though the services are similar there are differences in their calculations. Each services analyzes a page according to rules they believe are relevant to page speed and performance. In the end, some of the rules overlap and you end up with a different analysis of the same page with varied solutions. This enables you to have a different perspective on how to optimize your code. Let’s run a few sites and see what happens.

In this report you can see that the site has a fairly good grade for Page Speed but not so good for YSLow. When you click on a particular recommendation, it gives you a description of what the issue is and a link to locate the issue easily. The first issue is image dimensions. According to this report the following list of images are missing height and/width attributes.

When you run an URL you will see a tab for Page Speed, YSLow, detailed timeline and history. Next to the Grades is that actual loading time for that particular page.You can see that the first few recommendations are issued at a high priority without a coloured bar. While this may put you in a panic, realizing that the culprit is the server for those specific issues targets directly where to go to fix the problem.

The major fixes are listed first with a description of the type (CSS, images, script) and the priority of the issue (High, Medium, Low).   As your run down the list you’ll see recommendations to optimize images, remove unused CSS and Minimize request sizes. Again, clicking on the recommendations will allow you to pinpoint the appropriate links.

GTmetrix has a Top 1000 of sites on the Internet with the best grades and page loading times. While YouTube and Google are listed at the bottom of the table, it’s interesting to see who the front-runners are:

With Facebook topping the leaderboard at .69s Total time, significantly high grades for both Page Speed and YSlow, and their total size being 160KB. To the right are the actual reports that you can view for each site. That is not to say that even Facebook is perfect, as there are some issues but their overall grading is impressive.

Everybody deserves a fast web experience and GTmetrix provides you with a free tool to dig into the details of your site to examine its overall effectiveness. Speed is a crucial aspect in providing a pleasurable user experience for visitors of your site. Users have many options on the net to decide which content to consume and slow performing website will only add to their frustration. A faster website will keep them engaged and focused on your content rather than waiting for images to load.  In terms of valuable information, you need to spend more than 4s to consider the impact that running a URL through GTmetrix will have on your website.