It is essential to analyze your website frequently based on the best-performing metrics. That’s the only way to stay relevant amongst an ocean of resources. But why do this manually if you have a number of tools available at your service? Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom that do an in-depth analysis of your website and provide all the required data/information. One of these, GTmetrix, has become overly popular amongst webmasters over the past few years, given its high yielding results.
But before understanding the GTmetrix reports, let’s look at some simple ways to enhance your server response time:
Regardless of whether you have a static or dynamic website, it needs to be lightning-fast to keep your visitors on edge. Yes, visitor sessions on static websites might not be as long as those in dynamic websites, but there’s still a lot that can be done to take care of bounce rates.
- Minimalist Approach: Refrain from adding too many plugins or widgets.
We understand that you want to please your visitors and maximize revenues by adding the best add-ons to your website. But this can also affect the website performance adversely. It’s best to do performance tests over regular intervals and weed out the inactive/unwanted plugins. Such plugins often add loads of junk files, increase your backup size and, eventually put a lot of load on your server. Instead of using a whole lot of plugins, you can choose a third-party tool to automate tasks and reduce the overwhelming burden of your resources.
- Lightweight framework: Keep things light when it comes to design.
An eye-catching design theme can be tempting, but it can also stop your content from reaching out to the right audience. No matter how attractive the theme is, it still won’t attract visitors if it does not load fast enough. There are very few patient people on the internet, and they would not wait around for the shiny elements/icons to load completely. Instead, they would move on and probably never come back. Remember, the larger the page size or the number of features, the higher the load on the server. Thus, it would be a safer bet to use lightweight themes, preferably a default WordPress theme, and focus on creating unique content. In case you have a website with several essential features, opt for a theme with an amazing framework like those built on Bootstrap.
Now, let’s focus on understanding the GTmetrix reports. Have you tried it yet?
GTmetrix performs a simple test on your website, letting you know why your website has slowed down and what can be done to get it back on track. Instead of using colorful scores to analyze your website, GTmetrix takes a more classical approach and uses several measures to do so. It is a free tool developed by the team of GT.net, and anyone can be benefitted from the results of GTmetrix. All you need to do is to create a free account and run a performance test of your website. The interface is quite easy to use and understand. One of the best features of GTmetrix is that it uses many metrics from other testing tools, including Google PageSpeed Insights, for getting the best results.
Once you run the test, here’s what you will see.
On the left side, you will have your website’s performance scores (discussed below), and on the right, you will see the page details. Page details include Fully Loaded Time, (i.e., time taken to load the main content), Total Page Size (in MB), and Number of HTTP requests ( i.e., the number of times a visitor visits your website and pings your server to share files containing the page content). Faster the Fully Loaded Time, the better, smaller the Total Page Size, the better and lesser the HTTP requests, the better. Three symbols represent what your results mean- a green arrow pointing upwards means it is better than average, a red arrow pointing downwards means it is worse than average while an orange diamond shows that your result is within +/-5% of the average.
Below this, you will see six different tabs .Let us to understand each of them.
- PageSpeed Score: This is the first step of speed analysis on GTmetrix. It represents your Google PageSpeed Insights score and shows a list of most basic information about your website. The information provided will vary based on the kind of theme/plugins you use, the images you upload, etc. Each recommendation will be graded and categorized by its type from content to the server. All these recommendations will also be prioritized as High, Medium, and Low priority for your reference. You can use this information to make the necessary changes for upgrading your website speed. You can achieve a higher PageSpeed score by trying out some of these methods-
- Gzip compression
- Image optimization
- Enable caching
- Lightweight themes
- Minify CSS, JS, HTML files
- Minimize redirects
- YSlow Score: This is the second tab and step of GTmetrix analysis. It represents your score based on the algorithm developed by Yahoo! You will be able to see the insights and over 15 recommendations based on the YSlow score in the second tab. Some of the most common recommendations involve making fewer HTTP requests, avoiding URL redirects, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), reducing cookie size, etc. Again, these are categorized by types, priority, and grades. To score higher, you can-
- Make fewer HTTP requests
- Use cookie-free domain
- Use a CDN
- Make AJAX cacheable
- Reduce DNS lookups
- Waterfall: This is the third and perhaps the most important tab in GTmetrix analysis. The Waterfall tab dives deeper into your website and shows every single file loading on your website. In simple words, waterfall describes your website’s loading behavior and uses it to pinpoint the weak points. The Waterfall chart helps you to study every asset (including script, multimedia, or external file), and the bars next to those assets shows all the steps involved or how long these steps take. You can actually analyze each element to find which one is causing delays or performance issues on your website. This chart can be broken down to five columns (from left to right)-
- HTTP Response Status (tells the browser whether a request was successful or not; made with a status code plus a human-readable code- 1xx for informational, 2xx for successful, 3xx for redirection, 4xx for client error, and 5xx for server error.)
- File Origin (where the file is being loaded from, hostnames in case of third-party resources like YouTube or Facebook.)
- File Size (transferred size of the file; when combined makes the Total Page Size- the lower, the better)
- Load Time Breakdown (breaking down a specific duration of time for each load request.)
A set of colored bars represents each request, and each color represents a different part of the loading process. Brown is blocking, Teal is DNS Lookup, Green is Connecting, Red is Sending, Purple is Waiting, and Gray is Receiving. This information can be used to do an in-depth analysis of individual assets and find out why your website is running slow.
- Timings: This tab provides further information about the loading time and also the relevant user experience. It is represented by ‘event lines,’ which are again marked in different colors. Each line represents specific timings of certain milestones. Here’s what the colors represent-
- Green- First Paint (when the first rendering begins)
- Blue- DOM Loaded (when the Document Model Object is ready for the browser)
- Red- Onload (when the page and its elements have been downloaded and are being processed by the browser)
- Purple- Fully Loaded (when the Onload has fired, and no network activity has occurred for two seconds)
- Video & History: These tabs are available for premium account holders only. The video tab records a video of your website loading and shows you what all happens during this time. The history tab shows an account of all the past tests run by you. These are not-so-essential but interesting additions for those who are interested in going premium.
Why choose GTmetrix
GTmetrix offers several advantages over the commonly used performance tools, including the fact that you can customize your test. Unlike other tools, GTmetrix allows you to tweak your experience based on location, browser, and connection. You can also use the AdBlock option to analyze the impact of ads on your website. Apart from these additional features, the most amazing fact about GTmetrix is the comprehensive set of tests you can run on your website without paying a dime. The Waterfall chart is truly spectacular when it comes to performance analysis, and if studied properly, it will go a long way in speeding up your website.
With that, we consider the basic walkthrough for GTmetrix done. However, there are many more recommendations to talk about and many more questions to be answered. But with the starting points given in this article, you’re all set to website optimization services.
However, if you want further assistance regarding enhancing the server response time of your website or any other WordPress Maintenance support, you can contact WordPress Experts.