Website Performance: What It Is & How to Assess

Website Performance

What if a few technical changes to your ecommerce website could significantly improve the revenue it generates? In today’s fast-paced online marketplace, a slow website can be the difference between making a sale and losing a visitor. A faster website not only improves your users’ browsing experience but can also boost your search engine optimization (SEO), help you retain customers, and improve your conversion rate. Here’s how to measure and improve your website performance.

What is website performance?

Website performance refers to the quality of a user’s experience on a site. It includes measures like load time, responsiveness, and overall functionality across devices, browsers, and locations. 

Strong site performance provides a better user experience, improves user engagement, and can drive your conversion rate. Slow load times can lead to frustration, loss of potential customers, and decreased sales. Search engines like Google prioritize site speed and user experience, meaning website performance can affect your ranking on the search engine results page (SERP).

6 factors that impact website performance

  1. Server response time
  2. Page size
  3. DNS lookup time
  4. Code quality
  5. Browser compatibility
  6. Location

Many variables impact website performance. Here are the six most important factors to consider: 

1. Server response time

Server response time is the time it takes for the web server to respond to a user’s request for the webpage. This is calculated by time to first byte (TTFB) which measures the time it takes for the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server after making a request. It covers both server processing time and network latency, providing insights into a website’s initial responsiveness. A slow server response time means slow loading, negatively impacting a site’s performance score.

2. Page size

Larger page sizes can lead to slower load times, especially on slower internet connections—page elements like large images, videos, or other multimedia elements can bloat page size and hinder performance. 

3. DNS lookup time

DNS lookup time—or domain name system lookup time—refers to the time it takes to convert a domain name (like “shopify.com”) into an IP address, allowing the user’s browser to understand and access the site’s web server. 

4. Code quality

Poor code quality, such as excess or outdated code, can slow your site’s loading time, so web developers try to minimize and remove inefficient code and optimize markup.

5. Browser compatibility

A user’s browser and the device they use to access your site can cause it to load slowly or not display correctly—that’s why it’s important to optimize your web pages for different devices. Websites optimized for mobile devices load faster, provide a better experience to mobile users, and—as a result—have better mobile SEO. Given that mobile now accounts for more than 50% of all ecommerce traffic, compatibility with mobile browsers is an essential priority for your business. 

6. Location

A user’s location can also impact website performance. For example, websites hosted in given regions may load faster for users in that region. One way to do this is by using a CDN, which caches data in different locations to make sure your site is optimized for performance all over the world.

10 tools to measure website performance

You can use several monitoring tools to measure website performance and identify areas for improvement. Here are some examples:

  • Shopify online store speed report. Shopify’s online store speed report will show how your website compares to industry standards and other Shopify stores, helping to increase conversion rates by improving the shopping experience for your customers.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights. Google PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page and generates suggestions to make that page faster.
  • Pingdom. Pingdom provides insights on website speed and performance metrics and identifies performance bottlenecks.
  • GTmetrix. GTmetrix analyzes website speed and provides actionable recommendations to improve site performance.
  • WebPageTest. WebPageTest analyzes website performance and allows you to test your site from multiple locations worldwide.
  • YSlow. YSlow analyzes website speed and provides suggestions on how to improve page performance.
  • New Relic. New Relic monitors website performance in real time and helps you identify and troubleshoot performance issues.
  • Cloudflare. Cloudflare provides website performance optimization, security, and CDN services to businesses of all sizes.
  • Sematext. Sematext provides website performance monitoring, user experience analytics, and error tracking.
  • K6. K6 lets you simulate website traffic and test website performance under heavy load conditions.
  • Uptrends. Uptrends provides website performance monitoring, website uptime, and user experience analytics.

How to improve website performance

Strong website performance is essential for ecommerce, as it directly impacts visitor experience and conversion rates. There are several methods you can use to improve your website performance.

Optimizing page loading time.

You can optimize page load time by reducing the number of HTTP requests the page requires. This means reducing or removing large images, scripts, and stylesheets the site needs. You can also compress files, minimize code and markup (like CSS and JavaScript), and use a content delivery network (CDN) to rapidly serve static files.

Monitoring performance metrics.

Keeping an eye on relevant performance metrics (such as page speed, bounce rates, and conversion rates) and using automated tools to monitor these statistics can help you quickly identify and fix performance issues.

Testing your sites on multiple browsers.

It’s essential to test your website on various platforms to gauge its performance. Trying on different browsers and devices helps you detect inconsistencies in page rendering, loading speed, and user experience and adjust accordingly, ensuring the website functions well across all platforms.

Replatforming your website.

Migration and replatforming a website involves moving it from one platform to another to improve its performance, functionality, or user experience. It’s a big undertaking, and you should only pursue it after careful analysis and planning, considering factors such as cost, timeline, and potential risks associated with the website migration. This might involve upgrading hardware or software, migrating to a faster web server, or using a more robust content management system (CMS).

Website performance FAQ

What is good website performance?

Good website performance refers to how quickly a website’s pages load and display in the web browser, providing a seamless browsing experience for users. A fast website is essential for retaining visitors and ensuring high search engine rankings and conversion rates.

How often should I monitor and optimize my website’s performance?

You should monitor your site’s performance regularly, perhaps weekly or monthly, and optimize performance metrics like page speed, HTTP requests, server response time, and DNS lookup time. This will ensure fast load times and peak functionality. Regular monitoring can help you identify and address performance issues before they negatively impact user experience and sales.

How does website performance affect search engine optimization (SEO)?

Website performance, including page speed and load time, can affect SEO. A faster-loading website can lead to higher search engine rankings, as search engines prioritize websites that provide a better user experience. Slow load times and performance issues can negatively impact search engine rankings, leading to decreased traffic and conversions.