Testing Website Speed the Right Way

A slow-loading website can lead to several difficulties down the road. An ecommerce site may not perform well to the rigors of customers who anticipate a smooth ordering process. Do you own a blog that receives a considerable number of visitors? A slow loading page can lower the visitor count down and possibly lock entire pages down under high demand. Struggling with slow speeds can come from a variety of sources. There are also a few useful tricks to keep a site smooth and fast.

Diagnosing response times from visitors

How a visitor accesses a site can affect site loading speed. On the sever end, this is related to uploading versus downloading time. The initial loading page is often the face of the site. There are a few ways to measure this and remedy problems with initial loading times:

• Ping test

A ping test will confirm a connection to another server or computer that holds the information to the website. A ping test is very simple to use and will determine the wait and receive times between the server in milliseconds. Sometimes, a ping test is also referred to as a website speed analysis. These tests can be done in browsers and are often free on websites like Pingdom.com and Webpagetest.org.

• User accessibility testing

The site will need to be checked for cross-browser performance on every type of common web browser. This can be compared on a ping test for each browser to determine if the site needs optimization for specific browsers.

• Measuring code quality

Measuring code quality is a final and intricate step to determine if the code is optimized. For example, outdated flash code could be replaced with HTML5 script for faster performance.

Measuring and improving load rates

Visitors will often navigate through several pages. Many of these pages will contain code or functions that enable content from other main pages simultaneously in the site. As a result, it can affect the response time for both the entire site and the individual page.

Here are the proper ways to reduce those overall load times:

• Consistent resource locations

Keeping files in a consistent location will reduce the lag time between loading.

• Reduce redirects

Redirects add an extra request on a site by moving the visitor from one page to another. For example, a food blog may contain a redirect to another page within a niche site. Reduce these redirects by enabling the content as an embed within the page. Redirects can be a problem with web applications as well. Amazon has some AWS application monitoring tools that you can use to track this. They aren’t super easy to set up, but it’s possible.

• Reduce latency by reducing clutter

Latency time in a network is the time combined for each request to the server. Compressing image sizes and website code will reduce the latency.

Learning About Service Level Agreements

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract made between a web host service provider and its clients. At the most basic level, an SLA explains the services that the service provider will provide to the client. An SLA should also describe the consequences of any events that may disrupt this service (e.g. server downtime, network outages, a software or hardware malfunction) and how these events will be resolved by the service provider. The SLA should also list any associated reimbursements, fees, or warranties. Additionally, an SLA should explain data recovery procedures, describe client expectations, explain how to terminate the hosting service, and discuss metrics (e.g. server availability, response time, bandwidth, latency) that the service provider will use to assess the efficiency of their services.

An SLA is not necessarily the same as a Term of Use agreement; rather, the relationship between the two is up to the discretion of the service provider. Some businesses combine the two while others instead treat their SLA as a supplemental document. Furthermore, a service provider may offer their clients different SLAs based on their needs. A client who operates a twenty-computer business network would abide by a different SLA than an individual user would. The service provider also decides whether or not their company’s SLA is legally binding.

Understanding an SLA can ensure that a company or an individual is actually receiving the services that have been paid for. An SLA should be written from the customer’s perspective, in a way that clearly states what the service provider is offering to its clients without excessive use of technical jargon. A thorough SLA will describe how common problems will be resolved, including how quickly the provider’s information technology department can typically respond to a server issue and how much downtime the client can roughly expect. If you plan on trying to enforce your SLA, you may want to spend some time looking at an SLA management tool that you can use to

The SLA should also clearly describe any reimbursement clauses. Many modern web hosts offer a 100% network uptime guarantee, and will accredit a client’s account in the event of any unexpected downtime. Some companies offer similar reimbursement plans for any hardware that they lease to their clients. However, these processes may not be automated – for example, some companies require the client to manually report downtime prior to reimbursement – so be aware of the conditions offered by a service provider.

Another thing to consider about SLAs is what they pertain to. For example, if the SLA pertains to the uptime on a web application, you may want to be sure that an application performance monitoring tools you’re using are fully monitored to ensure that you uptime calculations are correct. You can do this with a variety of free and paid tools online, just make sure it’s something that you take the time to do.