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Load time is an important feature of any website, many users will not hang around waiting for your page to load, particularly if they are new to your site.

Adding plugin’s, affiliate links, graphics etc. all take their toll and it is worth keeping an eye on your load speeds.

First up are a couple of useful FireFox plugins which can help you along your way:

Yslow is plugin produced by Yahoo as an addition to the Firebug Plugin.

When you access a page Yslow shows the load time in your browser bar:

yslow01.png

If you click the icon then you get some useful information on possible optimisations you can make to your site:

yslow02.png

For more information on what Yslow does and how you can use the information it retrieves then read Yahoos article Thirteen Simple Rules for Speeding up your Website, it is a very interesting article.

The second Firefox Plugin is Load Time Analyzer, which like Yslow will show the load times in the browser bar:

lta01.png

Load Time Analyzer also allows you to view a graph of events showing how long each element on a page took to load. It is not pretty, and does not render too well, but the information is useful.

The Firefox Plugins are useful, but have the obvious limitation that they only show load times to your own PC.

WatchMouse can give you an indication of how your site loads in different countries. It is an online tool which is a free to use taster for some of paid services offered by Watch Mouse.

It does not help optimise your site in any way, but can be a useful way of determining how effective your hosting is.

watchmouse.png

As you can see my site was not available in China at the time.

If you have any suggestions for other tools you find useful in analyzing performance please leave a comment….

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    5 Comments

    Comment by Mutiny Design

    Thats a really useful plugin. I am worried that the loading time of my sites is too slow because of all the javascript and PNGs. The only plus is I am not weighed down by 150kb of abttered old HTML from the mid 90s.

    How slow do you think is too slow?

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    Good question :evil: :evil:

    In the past I have benchmarked competing sites and decided where I needed to be against those, but without direct customer feedback that is still very subjective….

    I found these tools after upgrading a web-app and being told the system was slower… we knew it would be as it had become more complex but the question of “how slow” or “how fast does it need to be” is one I still have no answer too… I think I will optimise everything I possible can until either I run out of ideas or the complaints stop!!!

    That scenario is a little different as they are our own servers… and it is server issues that are causing the problem as opposed to application code….

    Comment by Mutiny Design

    Thinking about it, I don’t I think it would be much of a problem to have a page load time of a couple of seconds. I think it is when the site is continually slow at loading pages that it will become a problem.

    Comment by SiteLogic

    No I would not worry about a couple of seconds either…. the sites I maintain are suffering load times of over 20 seconds for some pages and it is proving a bit of a pain!!!

    The issues are all server side… complex SQL queries, cron jobs etc. so these plugins are not much use in terms of problem analysis, but they do allow me to get better info back from users / admins who are running FireFox….

     
     
     
     

    This reminds me of starting my first big web site where I learnt PHP :) . The lesson was very good because I learnt the scripts optimisation and databases optimisation perfectly. What loaded in 3-4 seconds, loaded in 0.1 seconds after doing the optimisation steps.

    Later I even did some site speed optimisation projects for clients.

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