Hey, it’s Hoz here and today I’m talking about the best free web performance testing tools for website owners that you can use to test the page load speed of your website or blog.
I’d like to point out the criteria I set for this list because there is an astonishing amount of free website performance testing tools online, many of which are brilliant, and by narrowing my list of tools down to only 3 I exclude many of these wonders.
The criteria I set was simply this: can my buddy use the tool? If yes, the tool is good; if no, then cast aside.
In reality, testing a website’s performance in depth is not quite as easy or simple as pressing a button yet. To take a bird’s eye view on the matter, we really want to test 2 things:
- sever-side performance
- client-side performance
From a layman’s point of view, you may think of server-side testing as nerdy, because it’s all about numbers and odd-sounding names like server load and script timeouts, while you may think of client-side testing as sexy, because it’s mostly about visual charts (when you use the right tool).
This fact alone led me to exclude many wonderful tools, mostly for server-side testing.
My buddy wanted to be able to:
- type in a website address
- press a button
- see some sexy speed performance metrics
In essence, the tools needed to be simple to use and be intuitive enough to understand.
So the tools that I chose were selected because of 2 things:
- their ease of use (user-friendly)
- their visual appeal (especially when it comes to the data)
So let’s get to the list.
Here's what we're going to be covering...
- 1 3 Free Website Speed Tools for Testing Page Loading Speed
- 1.1 Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 1 of 3: Pingdom Tools
- 1.2 Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 2 of 3: GTMetrix
- 1.3 Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 3 of 3: Google Page Insights
- 1.4 An Old Fav Website Testing Tool That I Couldn’t Leave Out…
- 1.5 What is the Best Free Online to Test My Website Speed?
- 1.6 Resources
3 Free Website Speed Tools for Testing Page Loading Speed
The first tool I chose is Pingdom’s tool. This most certainly qualifies as one of the best free web performance testing tools for client-side testing, purely because of its visual appeal.
There are tools that are more comprehensive that Pingdom’s offering, but clients absolutely love this tool, and I have to admit that I love it too. They’ve done – in my opinion – a fantastic job on the front-end design.
Let me show you how I use this tool:
Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 1 of 3: Pingdom Tools
As you can see, the Pingdom user interface is very nice indeed.
Let’s see what we have in second place:
Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 2 of 3: GTMetrix
GTMetrix is not as sexy as Pingdom, but it’s a handy tool and once you play around with it a couple of times you really get to appreciate its features.
Best Free Web Performance Testing Tools 3 of 3: Google Page Insights
I had to include this tool in the top 3 simply because it’s Google’s tool and we all want to rank in Google. Because of that, this is arguably the tool we should all be using since it’s Google’s playground and they know what’s important to them.
When it comes to client-side testing, these 3 tools are enough to get you the data you need.
An Old Fav Website Testing Tool That I Couldn’t Leave Out…
Webpagetest is actually the first website testing tool I came across and used years ago. It didn’t make it to the top 3, but it almost did. So I wanted to at least give it a mention.
I also dedicated an Ask Hoz session to this topic, as it’s always going to be useful.
Let’s go through that session, shall we?
What is the Best Free Online to Test My Website Speed?
Excerpts from the video:
… All those tools are free but let me mention what they are: there is Google page insights. This should be the tool that we’re all using because it’s Google’s own – and of course I’m assuming that your end-goal is to rank well in Google.
So as I say, really, this should be the only tool.
However, what you will find when you visit this – it’s that like many of Google’s tools, it’s rather bland. Google is good at programming but not that good at interfaces.
Now, I still use this tool as part of my trio of tools when I test the speed of any website.
The other one that I use is called GTMetrix.This is a good tool. The only problem with this tool is that there’s only one location to test from in the free account, and that is Canada.
So unless you’re using a CDN (content distribution network) and you’re on a cloud host where instances of your website are spread out across the globe (you can use Cloudflare to do that, but if you’re using WordPress you may want to check out my WordPress optimisation guide where I talk about why I don’t use Cloudflare).
Unless that’s your setup, then when you test your speed from Canada if you’re on the other side of the world from Canada then your page loading speed is going to reflect that.
It’s going to be slower than you expect. It’s going to be slower than the speed somebody local to wherever your server is experiences.
Whatever metric you get back will be the page load speed for somebody in Canada downloading that page when your page is hosted wherever it is hosted right now in the world.
Which brings me to my favorite tool, which is called Pingom tools.
Now, this is a great tool and the interface is brilliant. It’s really nice to use and this is actually the first tool that I go to these days.
The good thing about this tool is that it has different locations that you can set the search from. Locations right now include:
- the US
Now, all these tools are free but Pingdom and GTMetrix do have paid accounts. Presumably one perk of being on the paid plans is that you get multiple locations to test from so that you can get more accurate with your website testing.
But the few locations you get in the free plan are good enough for most, at least to get a good idea of whether any changes improve your site speed (so these tools are perfect from a benchmarking point, as long as you keep using the same location to test from in order to measure the effects of your changes).
Another cool thing about these tools is that you don’t need to log in or create an account. You can just go straight to the tool, bang in your URL, hit analyze and boom, you get your results.
So these are the only website speed testing tools that I use these days for client-side testing and these should be the only ones that you need as a website owner trying to improve website performance.
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