Web pages continue to become larger and more complex with each passing year, presenting ever greater difficulties for webmasters. Tuning a website or application for the best performance possible can become a significant headache when you have to contend with numerous files and resources, many of which are pulled from various remote locations. A utility by the name of WebPagetest aims to simplify the process by delivering detailed website performance metrics and highlighting areas where developers can improve their sites.
WebPagetest is an open source service created by AOL that was released to the general public for testing and improvement under the New BSD License in 2008. Users can download the source files from Google Code, or they can simply rely on the web-based portal for testing. Basically, WebPagetest runs a series of diagnostics to test nearly every facet of web performance and spits out a flood of information related to how fast a given website is under real world conditions.
To gauge a site’s performance, go to the home page of WebPagetest and enter the URL of a website to test. Click the “Start Test” button to the right, and the application will compile the data it needs in a matter of seconds. You can look at a “Waterfall View” of the exact chain of events that occur when a website is loaded, with DNS Lookup, Initial Connection and Content Delivery times highlighted in a handy bar chart format. Go to “Test Result” in the top navigation bar to see the overall score for the site as well as letter grades ranging from A to F for metrics like text compression, image compression, keep-alive times and more.
Want To Setup Your Own Website Test Portal?
While the browser version of WebPagetest is responsive and full-featured, you may want to install a private instance on your own machine for testing various projects. It’s easy to get started, and all you need is a server with PHP and Apache installed. That means that it’ll run on either Linux or Windows. The source files are organized into two folders: one for your server and another for any test machines that you plan on using. If you’re remotely competent with basic server configuration and administration, you’ll find setting up WebPagetest to be quite easy.
Though it’s probably not the best tool for novice webmasters, WebPagetest is one of the leanest and most capable website performance testing suites available. It’ll tell you absolutely everything you need to know about your website’s overall speed and provide valuable information that can be used to optimize performance. Best of all, WebPagetest is backed by a rich community of open source developers and features dynamite documentation to boot. If you’re serious about making your website as fast as possible, WebPagetest is the only tool you’ll need.