Sometimes it’s obvious your website is loading slow, but sometimes it can be more subtle. This is especially true if your site gradually slows down as it becomes more popular, or as your website hosting company oversells its servers. Don’t risk losing traffic to slow page loads, look for these five signs of slow-loading pages:
1—Page Load Speed Kills Your Productivity
WordPress, Drupal, and other content management systems are designed to serve pages as quickly as possible. They’re not designed to make adding new content to your site fast, so adding content is one of the first places you will notice slow page load speeds.
If you need to wait more than a second to save or preview a page in the WordPress administrator section, or if uploading small and medium images takes more than five seconds, there’s a good chance your pages are starting to load slower and slower.
2—Check Page Load Speeds On Your Mobile Phone
Desktop and laptop computers today can disguise slow-loading pages—especially slow-loading pages you visit often by pre-downloading content and using data caches. But your slower and less capable smartphone isn’t so adept at hiding problems.
Testing your page load speeds on your phone has an additional benefit if you use a responsive design—a website design which re-scales itself for different screen resolutions. If your site dynamically re-sizes images and other content, a slow site may take several seconds to correctly load on a mobile phone, making it clear that your page load speed is bad.
3—Google Is Complaining About Your Page Load Speeds
Google Webmaster Tools, a free collection of information about websites published by Google just for each site’s webmaster, tells you how long it took Google to download each page on your site. In addition to current download times, Google will also give you historical page load times so you can compare your current speed to previous speeds to see if your website is slowing down.
4—Error Logs Indicate Slow Page Load Speeds
If you use an online service such as Google Analytics for your statistics, make sure you also check your webserver logs from time to time. In addition to other valuable information, your server logs will tell you about problems caused by slow page load speeds.
In particular, you want to look for error pages sent by your server using the 503 (service unavailable) and 504 (gateway timeout) codes. These codes mean that your webserver couldn’t connect to your content management system (such as WordPress or Drupal) within a reasonable amount of time—probably because your server was overworked.
5—Use YSlow To Uncover (And Fix) Slow Page Load Speeds
Yahoo publishes a free add on for popular Web browsers which analyzes load times for each element of a page. Using a twenty-point checklist, this YSlow add on will determine what is loading slow on your website, why it’s loading slow, and what (if anything) you can do about it.
YSlow is an expert tool and it tends to recommend complicated optimization technology. But non-experts can still use YSlow to diagnose slow page load speeds and then look elsewhere for simple solutions.
Ultimately, your goal is to make sure your web page is building fast and efficiently. In addition to fixing your website for structural issues that the items above may find you will also want to stress your site. By running routinely scheduled Monitis Web Load Tester runs you will obtain detailed reports that display your normal page load time frames as well as allowing you to stress your website by increasing simulated traffic. By comparing the base line results with the results displayed as the website is stressed you will determine how fast you are now and how much traffic you can handle before your site starts performing poorly. Be prepared and be fast.