A decade ago, 100KB was considered to be the absolute maximum total file size for a single web page. Today, developers rarely adhere to any limits thanks to the availability of high-speed broadband. However, there are several reasons why you should still worry about every byte:
- Visitor perception. Slow sites are annoying and reduce sales conversions. Will clients trust your technology services when your own site is sluggish?
- The mobile web. Web access from mobile phones and tablets is growing exponentially. These devices typically have slower connectivity and client-side rendering.
- Audience factors. The number of active web users has plateaued in the west but Africa and Asia are growing rapidly. Some locations may not receive fast broadband for many years — if ever.
- SEO. Google analyzes your page speed and may penalize your site if it’s slower than a competitor’s.
Fortunately, there are a number of browser extensions which can help you identify technical bottlenecks. The most well-known are Yahoo’s YSlow for Firefox/Firebug and Google’s Page Speed for Firefox/Firebug and Chrome. The choices are more limited if you’re using IE, Opera or Safari and the plug-ins may not be practical if you’re working away from your PC.
Therefore, Google has recently released Page Speed Online — an experimental tool which provides a list of helpful tips which could improve your website performance. Enter a URL and you’ll be shown a list of high, medium and low priority suggestions:
As well as a “desktop browser” mode, Page Speed Online can also make suggestions for mobile devices. In practice, you’re likely to see a similar set of suggestions but some may be re-prioritized accordingly.
The only disadvantage is that the online tool cannot access pages on private intranets or those which require a login. The browser extensions must still be used in those situations.
Overall, Page Speed Online is a great tool for quick testing. There’s no need to install a clunky browser extension so you have few excuses — test your site today.
Has Page Speed Online helped you solve major issues within your pages?