Evaluating Your Website, Part 1: Speed

Whether you are a non-profit, one-man shop or small business with a dedicated web professional, the new year is a great time to evaluate your website - really it’s a great time to evaluate all of your marketing efforts, both online and off - and in this series, we are going to look at some tools that you, the average website owner can use to find out how your site stacks up.

The first thing we’re going to evaluate is the speed of your website. Speed is often overlooked as we tend to focus on the aesthetics and usability of our site and just assume that the speed is acceptable.

Who Cares About Speed?

You may be asking, “Why should we evaluate speed? What role does it play in how visitors behave on our site?” According to the Google Developer Tools, “Fast and optimized pages lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions.” Would you like higher visitor engagement? Retention? Conversions? How about more sales? Donations? User interaction? I thought so. So, let’s dig in.

To use the Google PageSpeed Insights, we will visit the following URL and then type in the URL of the site that we want to evaluate. You can use this tool to evaluate any page within your site. I would suggest evaluating the most important pages on your site (homepage, store page, product page, etc.). In the example (image below), I’m evaluating my site homepage, Firebrand-Media.com. It’s not pretty so you may want to shield your eyes.

Firebrand Media Page Speed Test

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

The results, or more specifically, the suggested corrections found in the PageSpeed Insights can be fairly technical. Don’t let that scare you off. Really, you just want to focus on a few key points and then leave the technical bits up to your web developer.

0 - 100

The PageSpeed Insights give you a score of 0 - 100 for both mobile and desktop performance. In addition, they give you a color coded grade: green = pass, yellow = caution and red = fail. There is also a preview of your site, or more accurately, the page that you supplied the URL for in both a desktop browser and mobile device. In addition to the speed test for mobile, there is also a User Experience test for mobile that will check the usability of your site for those accessing it on a mobile device. If your score is in the green area for both mobile and desktop, congratulations. You can now focus on another aspect of your web marketing. If you are in the yellow or red area, then you should probably find a web developer to help address the problem areas.

Tests like these are invaluable but, you or your organization have to determine what your budget is for addressing these issues. Once you do that, find a developer that can make the necessary fixes within your budget or if you can’t get all of them fixed, focus on the most important issues and then make a plan for addressing the outstanding issues in the future.

Want to read more about page speed and why it’s important?

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About The Author

G. Brad Hopkins's avatar
  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
  • @gbradhopkins