Testing site performance is an important part of making sure you offer a great experience to your users. Not only that, but it also influences your ability to achieve top placement on SERPS.
Search engines, especially Google, are sensitive to ensuring they promote sites that are easy to use. The fastest, most intuitive sites will often have an edge over the rest.
To make sure you’re among them, continuous testing is a must!
Without testing, it’s easy to overlook site problems that may impact many of your users.
Remember, it only takes about one full second for a user to notice that a site is slow. That can lower their confidence in you and your solutions. It’s especially devastating when it happens as the user is browsing products, verifying their shopping cart, or checking out.
So, what can you do about it? Luckily, there are plenty of tools that can help.
Let’s look at some of them now.
When it comes to great free tools, Google has gone all out to give Web designers and developers free tools to work with. GTMetrix, a third-party app, combines Google’s PageSpeed Tool with the open source YSlow project, providing an instant grade for your website’s speed. It may be the fastest one-stop answer for diagnosing speed problems. Each speed test produces a custom report that includes dozens of individual rankings and actionable advice items.
There are countless browsers out there, and ambitious new contenders seem to arise every day. Although Chrome and Firefox have the lion’s share among power users, you can never really assume what kind of system setup your users might have. Screenfly, from QuirkTools, is the solution. Simply by typing in your site address, you get access to site renders from dozens of popular platforms. (For a little extra fun, try putting Screenfly’s own URL into the address bar.)
Customized content is becoming more important to today’s fully responsive Web experiences. Many bits and pieces of custom content are based on the user’s geographic location. This tool gives you the easiest method available to see just how your geo-targeted content, geographically sensitive SEO rankings, and other regional factors are doing. In addition to location, you can also customize viewing platform and browser. Slower sites do have a risk of timing out, though.
We know, we know. You might not really think of Google Analytics as being an obvious choice for this list. After all, it doesn’t produce instant advice – you have to dig into the data. When it comes to free tools, however, there’s just nothing better. Plus, it can provide you with the most important performance insight of all: Where you’re losing your users. (For those wondering, the User Flow Report is usually the best way to do this without pulling your hair out.)
There are lots of link checking tools out there, so it’s easy to overlook this – but, not having a link checker in your toolkit is like not having a Phillips head screwdriver. This particular Dead Link Checker may be the best for batch work, as you can run through multiple websites and then get the final report emailed to you. It carefully checks out each individual link on a page or entire site, producing all of the 403 and 404 errors it finds.
When you first get to Nibbler, you might wonder what the heck you’re looking at. It doesn’t offer much in the way of clues, and a report can take a long time to generate. Surprise: It’s well worth the wait. It tests nineteen different on-page and off-page functions throughout your site to synthesize a score including accessibility, user experience, marketing, and technology. The free version of the tool evaluates five pages, enough to get a general idea of where action is needed.
Last but not least, one of the top tools from #1 inbound marketing platform HubSpot. While you’ll find all kinds of useful stuff on HubSpot’s platform and many Web properties, the Website Grader combines power and ease of use. Unlike many of the other tools above, it gives you SEO and security factors along with your mobile and performance stats. It empowers you with a meaty, detailed list of tweaks you can do right now – and highlights your top priorities.
In the Time it Took to Read This Post, You Could Test Your Entire Site!
It wasn’t that long ago when comprehensive UX testing was a painstaking process that meant combing through each page and every browser variation manually. Nobody, but nobody, had the vast spectrum of hardware needed to simulate what users might encounter.
Now, it’s all been condensed and consolidated into a handful of powerful tools.
With the picks above, you have a unique chance to test your website performance in just an hour – and completely rework the areas where you need improvement in less than a day. That will deliver the best performance possible for your users, helping you build trust and motivate them.