In this post, John Graham, Senior Software Developer at Miles Technologies, discusses the importance of thoroughly testing your website’s performance and the best tool to do so.
Web application and website speed are some of, if not the most important, areas for users in the current web environment. You may not know it, but your website speed may be killing your bottom line.
Marketers conduct page abandonment studies that measure the threshold of loading time that users will accept before giving up on your website. Studies estimate that 25% of users will abandon a page after waiting for 5 seconds. With the vast selection that the internet provides, users can typically find an acceptable alternative without ever bringing up their angst to your customer service team. You may not even know an issue with your website exists, yet your slow loading times are leading to lost leads and lost sales.
How can I ensure optimal website speed and performance for all my users?
This is an important question that every company should be asking their website developers. Simply testing the website or web application in a native environment just isn't enough. These tests are typically conducted in "ideal" scenarios with no running process or simulated load testing. Most development cycles also won't include testing of all your pages in all the current browsers, mobile devices, and operating systems (OS) that will be accessing your site.
The best way to be sure that your program is running up to speed is through monitoring software. One of the best monitoring software tools is New Relic monitoring. This program runs 24/7/365, providing you and your software development team priceless information regarding your sites performance
New Relic offers a variety of statistical analysis including the tracking of:
- Page views
- Load times
- Error rates
The development team can use this information to identify pages and processes that are running slow or causing errors. Your sales and marketing team can track peak usage times, and get a better understanding of user behavior within your website or web application.
New Relic offers a level of detail down to what devices and browsers people are using most, and the performance of your site on each of these platforms. As a developer, the level of detail that New Relic provides is invaluable. When a user says "Last Tuesday around 5pm the site was really slow” what information can be gained from that? It used to be a shot in the dark to figure out exactly what was causing the issue. Was it a resource problem? Was it a certain action that the user ran to cause this? What page was causing the issue?
Actual website and application names have been removed from this image
All of these questions are necessary to isolate and improve the performance of your site. I use this tool on a weekly basis to easily track down processes that will cause pain to the users of our systems. If you've ever been frustrated with a development team that can't seem to nail down the actual issue of a site’s slowness, this tool will give you the information you need to improve the speed and performance of your website.
What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining your website or web application? What methods have you tried to test or improve your website speed? Let us know in the comments below.