The way that your website works for your visitors matters. Sites that download quickly are perceived as being better than those that download slowly. You may only get a few seconds of their time before they navigate off the page and go elsewhere. Google’s add-on for Firefox users, Page Speed, can help you analyze pages and sites to see where improvements may need to be made. How does this program work and what can it tell you?
How to Use Page Speed
Once you’ve downloaded Google Page Speed it will be lodged in the Tools folder within Firefox. To use the program you simply need to:
1. Go to Tools, Firebug, Open Firebug.
2. Click on the tab marked Page Speed to open up the tool.
3. Go the web page/site on which you want to run the analysis and wait for it to download fully (i.e. look for the word Done in the bottom browser bar).
4. Click on the Analyze Performance button and wait for the report to come through.
The report that you will be given will be based on a variety of data. Each component will be marked and you’ll also be given an overall Page Speed score (out of 100). If improvements can be made you’ll see them listed in the report where they are prioritized (as color coded symbols) according to urgency.
What do the Color Coded Recommendations Tell You?
There are currently four symbols that you could see in your report. These basically tell you whether there are improvements that you could make and where.
1. An exclamation point in a red circle is the most urgent symbol. This tells you that there are priority improvements that could or even should be made to increase page speed. The priority here is based on the fact that these recommendations may be the easiest to implement but may come with the greatest improvements in terms of results.
2. A yellow triangle denotes improvements that may take a little more work or that may be of a lesser benefit than the previous recommendations.
3. A green tick either tells you that everything is OK or that any changes you could make will have a small impact on performance. These may still be good to do, but the recommendation is to work on these after dealing with more urgent issues.
4. A blue circle with an ‘i’ in it is used to show an information message. This may mean that the analysis didn’t work correctly or that the page contents were not relevant to a particular analysis measure.
If an event that is marked by one of these symbols has a + symbol next to it then you can click to expand it. This means that the analysis has come up with one or more suggestions to help you improve performance.
Using this kind of tool may be useful. If Google do start to use page download times within their PageRank metrics, as they are hinting they might, then faster downloads could be of benefit to you there. In general terms, however, it is worth remembering that a faster site could bring with it a lot of visitor advantages, keeping users on the page, in the site and coming back in the future.