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Website Performance

Website Speed Test from 13 Locations World-Wide

This is a quick note to tell you about a service that I have wanted for a very long time. We just launched FastOrSlow.com which is a website speed test. The difference is that it tests your site from 13 locations around the world. This is huge, in my humble opinion, and here is why.

Website performance used to be measured using a tool bundled with Apache web server called Apache Bench or ‘ab’. There were similar tools for other platforms, but the basic idea is to see how quickly your ‘stack’ can serve up a page to a single user or a lot of users. And a lot of users might mean “a lot of users one at a time” or “a lot of concurrent users” and you could adjust this with command line parameters to ‘ab’.

This ‘stack’ test really is just testing how fast the web server and database combo can fling HTML at the Internet. But what we realized over the past decade is that page render time matters a lot. In other words, it doesn’t just matter how fast you get HTML, images, stylesheets and javascript flung at you. What matters too is how quickly your web browser can assemble that into a document that is viewable by your site visitor.

We also realized that website speed is also affected by things that happen BEFORE the page is served up, like DNS lookups and how long it takes your browser to connect to the site and send its request.

Now you understand why I’m so excited about FastOrSlow.com. The service simulates actual browser requests to your website from 13 different locations and measures your site performance across ALL those dimensions, from initial DNS lookup, to how fast your content is flung at the browser, to how long it takes the browser to render that content.

Fast or Slow is a multi-dimensional website speed test and those dimensions include geography, server speed, DNS speed, network transit times and render time.

But what really makes the service so compelling is that it does all of this and produces a report that is very easy to read and understand. And you can drill down to individual locations and get at the data for that specific location, across all the dimensions.

I’m very proud of our team for creating Fast or Slow because taking this level of complexity and presenting it to a user in an easy interface, and generating results that are easy to understand, is hard. In my opinion the best engineering teams do this. They abstract away complexity, they put that responsibility on their own shoulders and they make life easier for the end-user.

If you’re interested in site speed, site performance, if you’ve recently made changes to your site back-end, content structure or hosting and want to check performance – or if you just want to make sure your website is crazy fast for the whole world, definitely visit Fast or Slow now. It’s completely free with no strings attached.