With the dawn of the mobile revolution, it has become more critical than ever to have a website that is not only responsive by design for multiple devices, but also fast and mobile friendly. Statistics show that in the hospitality world 30-40% of users are increasingly using mobile devices to research and book vacation rentals. It is clear that Google rewards websites in both organic and paid search placements with higher rankings when a user does not use the back button after getting to a landing page. While this is only one small factor in consideration, it makes a big difference from a usability standpoint when a customer is using a phone or tablet to open a website over a cellular network. Gone are the days of testing page speed with your desktop computer as T1, T3, Cable, and Fiber connections are much more commonplace in urban areas. So how can I really tell if my website will open fast for all my users? How do I isolate the cause of those problems?
If I were you, I would not rely on just one tool to test my website. Keep in mind, you will get varying results depending on server locations, bandwidth being used, time of day, etc. So make sure to test a couple of times and get an average. As well, in this example we will only test the homepage of a website. I strongly encourage you to test new landing pages used for your AdWords campaigns as well as any that may have extra functionality, forms, widgets, or just a lot of pictures…All of these below are free tools!
1. WEBSITE OPTIMIZATION For many years, I have referenced this tool as a starting point to get a quick glimpse of how the different objects on my webpage are being seen by crawlers. http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/
The 2 main things I look at are:
Check out the red highlights in the analysis tool then ask your webmaster how they will address these items.
2. Pingdom Pingdom is great in many ways as you can sign up to get alerts when your website goes down via email or text message. I use tools.pingdom.com to get even more in-depth with what objects are slowing my website down in addition to THE ORDER that they load. Sometimes just having some objects load at the end allows a user to see the important stuff and gives time for the other secondary style sheets and .js calls to load. You can drill down to see specifics, get a “performance grade” and it will also keep a history so you can see how well you have improved over time.
3. Google Page Insights - Lastly, I will check Google’s Page insights to see what score they provide. It is out if 100 and theoretically the higher the better. The nice thing about Insights is that they break down all the links, server calls, and objects and let you know where your biggest opportunities are for optimizing for page speed.
Remember, most times you can tackle 2 or 3 biggies – usually image size, caching, and order in which objects load to make a dramatic difference in your website’s page speed time. In the end, the effort is worth it because it will result in a lower bounce rate, higher rankings, and a better overall user experience. Many have said for years…you only have 8 seconds to make that first impression! Now go OPTIMIZE!