Analyzing Your Web Page Speed Test Data

Now that you have your results from Pingdom and PageSpeed you can use that data to help you make changes to your website to speed up the page load times.  This part of the series will focus on teaching you how to decipher the results from the speed test sites and use it in a proactive way.

 

What Is REALLY Making The Web Page Load Slowly?

First off be aware that the size of the webpage may not be the one and only culprit causing slow page loading times.  Quite often the overall size of a web page load may be only marginally related to the speed in which it loads for the viewer.   To start with, be aware that there are in general two kinds of websites out there today.  First are plain HTML sites, usually written by hand or through an editor like Dreamweaver or a similar product.  Second are the content management systems with names such as Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, and many others that hold your content in a database and then create pages on the fly as they are requested.  This allows you to insert more dynamic content that can change depending on various factors such as time, date, or even the name the user logs in under.  CMS's by their nature are much more complex and require more server resources to run than plain text HTML sites.  When this is added to the increased use of Javascript, embedded videos, and other rich multimedia the server can get bogged down, especially if it is experiencing a heavy load of page requests from visitors.

Hand written, plain text HTML web sites usually do not have many speed problems, but as stated above if you are using a content management system (CMS) like Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, or others the CMS alone can be a major source of the slow down.  The optimization of your CMS’s underlying code as well as the congestion of your hosting and database server can play a huge role in how fast your content is delivered to the end user but with a little work and some changes to a few files you can speed up even the largest and most complicated website.  Here is how to get started.

Analyzing The Results Of Speed Test Tools Like Pingdom and PageSpeed

First go back to the Pingdom report and look around for the initial server response times.  This should be at the top of the list.  This tells you how long it takes from the time your server gets a page request before it starts sending out the data.  Two things can make this be slow.  One is a congested, overloaded server.  If you are on one of the giant mega-hosts this may be part of the problem as some companies will cram as many as 500 sites onto a single server.  If you think this might be part of the problem take a look at my article on web server speed for some tips and assistance on solving hosting server speed problems.

The other thing that can cause slow initial page loads is how much stuff your server has to calculate before it fully renders the page.  This is the main problem with very complicated CMS based sites which use many different modules, plugins, and widgets to display things on the page.  Each widget you add to a page requires the server to make a request to the database system to pull in the data before it can be placed in the appropriate place on the page.  Lots of widgets equals lots of requests and thus, lots of time spent processing.  

 

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