I get questions all the time about slow loading websites. Let’s face it we all live busy lives, and when we go to a web page every second, it takes to load decreases our chances of actually staying on the website. It’s very common to run a site for 1-8 months and then suddenly notice lots of performance issues. It is true that some web host is slower than others, though. I want to share a way in which I check WordPress sites for plugin issues or loading times. Let me introduce to you gtmetrix.com.
First, go to the website and put in your URL. For example, we will use tbwhs.com.
As you can see this is the data we get from gtmetix.com. At first, it can be a little overwhelming. But, you’re in luck because I am going to explain what some of this data means. First, you will see a summary of “Page Speed Grade” and “YSlow grade.” As you can see, my page speed grade is an A (91%), and my YSlow grade is a B (83%). Then you will notice “Page load time”; as you can see mine is 1.36 seconds. “Total page size: mine is 736KB, and “total number of request”; mine is 55.
Typically, I like to see page load times under 3 seconds. If it takes longer than that, there can be many problems, which I will address a little later in this article. There is no best practices page size that I like to see for page size, though. Obviously, the lower, the better. Lastly, many requests are very important. Is the number of requests that are being pulled from your website. Just like total page size you want this number as low as you can get while still making your website functional.
So, let’s look close at the “Page Speed” tab. Tells us the grade (A to F), type, and priority (from high to medium). This tab gives us all kinds of information on different elements that affect our website’s page speed. There are about 30 things gtmetrix.com is looking for. I’m not going to go over them all, but basically, if you click on them you can get information on them. You can always click on “what does this mean” and get more information about whatever one you would like to learn about. There is some excellent information in there!
Next, is the “YSlow” tab. Also gives us an A to F grade, type, and priority readout. Just like page speed, this looks for different elements that we can tinker with to make our website load faster. Obviously, you want to make sure you take care of the highest priority metrics first. I would aim, to at least have a B score for this.
Next, the “Timeline” tab gives us lots of information on the different request that are being pulled from our website. You can view your website data in the “Waterfall”. Waterfall is very helpful for seeing what is being requested on our site. For instance, we find out which plugins, images, etc. are taking the most time to load from our site. We can click on them to find out more information them.
Lastly, is the “History” tab which gives us reports on page load times, page sizes, and request counts, and page speed and YSlow scores over time. Meaning we can check our settings over the last day, week, month, three months, six months, or year. This allows us to see if our changes are intermittent or if whatever we are trying to improve is actually working. I do like to check these at least once a month so that I can see the improvements.
Make sure if you’re having problems to remove plugins that you don’t use. A lot of the time their are plugin conflicts which can hinder your websites performance. I actually wrote an article on choosing WordPress plugins which you might find helpful.
This website is very useful for web designers. I find myself using it all the time to find out what is happening on websites I have developed or client’s websites. You can find out a lot of key data when checking these different metrics with gtmetrix. I did find a video on YouTube which I thought was very helpful for those that would rather watch a video tutorial on gtmetrix.
Are you experiencing problems or issues with your website? A lot of the times installing a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache can help improve your scores. Also, some host are known for having slower than average servers. For example, what might work on Hostgator.com’s servers could be drastically different than what is working on WebHostingHub’s servers.
Please do leave your comments down below on using gtmetrix.com and I will address any issues or problems you might be having.