Measuring web site speed

My first challenge in the quest for ultra high performance magento is to measure current performance. How fast does our site load? How long does it take from the moment a user clicks our link to the time they can see our web page?

There is no simple answer to this relatively simple question. There are some great tools that help to answer the question, but none of them are quite perfect. I’d like to get a regular snapshot of our page load times across a range of pages, taken at regular intervals. So far I’ve found a range of tools that will give me instant data on the page load time, only one that will check it regularly, and the slowest interval is every 20 minutes for $5 per check location per page per month. My research continues…

I found a great question on serverfault (via this) that linked to most of the monitoring services I could find. There’s a trove of information in there. The providers I looked at in some detail are:

We are already using the free tier on Pingdom to monitor uptime. One url gets hit every minute, free of charge, and notifications get sent if the site is down. For $10 a month, we can increase that to 5 urls, plus 50c/month for each url thereafter. I think that’s likely to be our most sensible option.

Simplicity

If there was a service that was 37 signals simple, checked that our site was online regularly, sent alerts, and monitored the site speed a few times a day, for $10 or $20 a month, I’d sign up immediately. Pingdom or Monitis looks like the closest thing.

Two categories of speed

Speed testing services seem to fall into two categories. Services like Pingdom’s monitoring track the time it takes to load the html page. Then browser tools give an indication of how long it takes to “render” the page in a browser. So the first is measuring straight server response time, the second trying to measure the user’s load time.

Personally, I’d like both to be measured and recorded regularly, I want all the data I can get, all the time! I haven’t yet found such a service, it seems like all the page load measurement tools are aimed at giving advice, and benchmarking, rather than ongoing monitoring.

There are lots of benchmarking tools around.

Monitis

I’d forgotten about monitis while I was writing most of this. They offer the services I’m looking for, but the real stickler is the minimum frequency of every 20 minutes. I’d much rather than 10 pages on our site measured for speed every 4 hours, than 1 measured every 20 minutes. Under their pricing model the cost per page speed test is $5/month, every 20 minutes, per location.

Update, I just called Monitis and spoke to a very friendly chap who said they would make a custom plan for my requirements. Once I’m clear on how many pages I want to check and how often, I’ll send them a request for a quote.

Update: I forgot to include this link, I’m guessing this is the article that put site speed on many people’s radar.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Pergento, a blog chronicling my adventures in pursuit of ultra high performance magento.

I’m engaging with my brother with the aim of radically improving the reliability and dramatically increasing the speed of his magento based ecommerce sites. I’ll share stories of my adventures as the journey unfolds. I hope to be able to share tales of what works, what doesn’t work, and most significantly, how the changes I make affect conversion. The goal of this whole exercise is to help drive higher revenue through magento powered sites.

Amazon and Google seem to both agree that page performance affects sales. I’ve seen the figure repeated from Amazon that a 100ms increase in page load times reduces sales by 1%. I’ll try to find a source for that. Likewise, I’ve read that increasing the speed of a site can dramatically boost search result placement. Again, I’ll try to find the references.

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