What are the best Website Speed Test tools?

Danny, July 24, 2019

It is widely known that the speed of your website has a major impact on your Google ranking and the visitor or customer experience. It affects the number of leads, and even online sales. At this point, you’re likely curious about how your website is doing in terms of speed. That’s why we have taken the time to list the four best website speed test tools. Keep in mind that expressing the performance of your website in a test score does not always provide an accurate picture.

Website Speed Test Tool #1: Webpagetest.org

Top of the list of tools for testing the speed of your website is Webpagetest.org. This tool for website speed tests displays the result of a website in a ‘waterfall’, showing which part of your web page is loaded at what time.

Webpagetest.org provides raw data: As a website builder or administrator you can draw your own conclusions on the basis of the statistics and info. What makes this test tool convenient is that you can decide which server location the test is run on before the speed check. Select a location that represents a large proportion of visitors to your website. You can choose the browser used for testing as well as the internet speed of, for example, a mobile device. In addition, you can check ‘first view’ (not cached) and ‘repeat view’ (cached). In other words: you can decide exactly how you want to run the test, which makes the speed check more accurate. You can also indicate that the test must be carried out in multiple runs. This functionality helps prevent temporary deviations affecting the test result.

Savvii is a fan of this type of speed testing tool that provides raw data, because quite a lot of tools provide fairly general speed tips for all types of CMS. Savvii only provides managed hosting for WordPress, and therefore wants to have the option to go one level deeper.

The drawbacks of Webpagetest.org are that this speed test is not very user-friendly for non-specialists and that it offers fewer tips. An advantage is the independence of the tool.

Website Speed Test Tool #2: Browser Dev Tools

Number two on our list of the best website speed check tools is the developer tools in your browser. Chrome’s developer tools can be accessed by pressing the F12 key (command-option-i for Apple). The tool has a ‘Network’ tab that contains a ‘waterfall’, just like Webpagetest.org, of the parts of your page that are loaded. These tools also have an ‘Audit’ tab containing the test tool Lighthouse, which can be used to view your website’s performance in real-time. If you prefer not to use developer tools for this, you can also install the Lighthouse extension.

The advantages of developer tools are that you can see the results immediately, and the test is not run from another server. Another advantage is that a lot of raw data is provided. Obviously, this is a bit more difficult to interpret.

The great thing about testing via developer tools is that you get a better picture of the user experience. Users are advised to always compare such a test with another in order to get as realistic a picture as possible. 

Download the ‘9 tips to speed up your site’ whitepaper

Website Speed Test Tool #3: Google PageSpeed Insights  

Google PageSpeed Insights (based on Lighthouse) is a great tool to start with. When you want to have an overall idea of how your website is performing, PageSpeed Insights is a good starting point. If you get a negative score with this website speed check, you are immediately provided with useful tips to get started.   

Note that if you get a good score, this does not mean your website’s performance is perfect. This tool is particularly useful because of the general tips and best practices provided: recommendations for image compression, more suitable image types and tips on the use of CSS and Javascript.  

PageSpeed Insights is a test tool that can be used for all websites. But following up on tips and scores may have an adverse effect. Some of the information provided may be less relevant or concern data from your CMS. To change these sometimes requires a lot of effort, with a maximum page speed test score as the only benefit. Although we understand that a good score can provide a feeling of security, the performance of your website cannot be expressed in a single score. Users are therefore advised to also look beyond the score itself. 

Google offers a number of useful tools and tips, but do not attribute too much value to them.  

Website Speed Test Tool #4: Pingdom Tools 

The last tool is Pingdom Tools, which has much in common with PageSpeed Insights. This website speed test provides general recommendations and overall scores and works in almost the same way as Page Speed Insights. All in all, both speed tests are reasonably in line with each other. An advantage of Pingdom is that you can select a server location from where the test is run. One reason to opt for Google PageSpeed Insights is that it is slightly more extensive. It also makes sense that following the recommendation made by Google will result in a better ranking. In addition, the test report of PageSpeed Insights is slightly more user-friendly. 

Conclusion on Speed Test Tools 

The question of which website speed checker is the best match for you depends on your level of expertise and what appeals to you. Our recommendation: always use more than one tool and run the test several times. The scores will always be different, and in the end your website’s loading speed depends on a combination of factors.  

It is important not to depend on a single measurement tool or on a single test score. We want to ensure the best performance for your site. A good PageSpeed score does not necessarily indicate a good performance. Also, talk to your hosting party to find out what the correct measures are in terms of speeding up your website.

Download the ‘9 tips to speed up your site’ whitepaper

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