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Going Beyond PageSpeed Insights To Develop Faster Sites

The Page-Speed Insights of Google is an easy and effective tool to figure out whether a page is slower than it should be. This tool reflects a score that can help you to understand the performance of a page. Since the tool enables quantifying page performance, this score is often used to measure the overall performance of a site. However, a perfect score does not necessarily imply a faster site. There are smarter ways that offer in-depth analysis to assess and enhance the speed of a site.

The fact that a strong page performance is essential might make you wonder about ways in which you can increase your score. Let us look at some of the ways in which this can be achieved.

However, before we begin, you need to keep the following elements in mind.

    –  Latency is an important consideration and can be more damaging than bandwidth.

    –  The score that is reflected on Page-Speed Insights should not be taken at face value

    –  You need to lay emphasis on measurement, setting goals and prioritising

Let us look at each of the above in detail.

Latency Can Be More Damaging than Bandwidth:

Going through the Page-Speed Insight rules may initially give you the impression that it is just about serving lesser bytes to the user. However, this is only a part of the reality. There is a certain amount of time involved in a request reaching a server and for the server to respond back.

Processes Involved After You Make a Request:

When a user types a URL and starts making a search, a request is made. A lot of things occur following this. The last step involves the content being transferred. It is only this last step that is influenced by the bandwidth.

For effectively fulfilling a request, the following steps are also involved:

     Locating the server

    –  Connecting to the server

     Waiting for a response

    –  Receiving the response

There is some amount of time involved in each of the above steps and it is not just about the last step. The first three steps are not influenced by the file size and have a cost associated regardless of the fact whether the payload is small or big.

Reasons Why it Takes Time to Receive a Response:

Network signals cannot travel at a speed that is greater than that of light. This is the maximum and in reality, it takes data a longer time to be transferred. For example, it takes light approximately 40ms to travel to and from Paris to New York. If it takes data twice the time, then the minimum time required will be 80ms.

For this reason, CDNs are commonly employed that place servers closer to the users and reduce the time involved.

The following chart will give more clarity about how this works.

Latency

The values in the red box are the ones that are being considered as ‘latency’. They are about 220ms. The transfer of content takes 0.7ms. Compression or reduction in file size cannot help with the speed. The only method to reduce time is to reduce latency.

Requests Required for Loading a Page:

It takes more than a single request to load all the content required for a page. If the URL corresponds to a webpage, the browser will be able to determine that it needs to load more resources for the page to be rendered. These may include CSS, JavaScript or front files.

After a server has been located, the browser will not require looking it up again. It will have the required connect and users only need to wait for the response.

Page-Speed Insights Test:

Page-Speed Insight evaluations include aspects that can immensely have an impact on the page speed. For bigger sites, some of these may be difficult to implement. Moreover, the manner in which your site has been designed also has an influence. However, this does not imply that you should not try the methods. You just need to bear in mind that there are various factors involved and it is often difficult to determine the entire site speed picture.

Let us have a look at some of the Page-Speed Insight rules:

Tests Emphasising on Reducing the Bandwidth Use:

1. Optimizing Images:

This is not a big issue unless you have huge images. This measures whether images can be further compressed and is not impacted by the number of images that you load.

2. Enabling Compression:

The process of compressing is easy and must be used. It is simple unless you have huge JavaScript files.

3. Minify HTML & CSS:

In these cases, latency has a bigger impact than response size. This will reduce overhead by only tens of KB

4. Minify JS:

Consolidating JS into one file can reduce the total number of requests that is required to be made.

Tests Emphasising On Reducing Latency:

1. Leveraging On Browser Cache:

Quite a number of files that could benefit from caching are located on third party servers. Hosting them yourself can help you to change the cache time

2. Decreasing Server Response Time:

The threshold on PSI is quite high. Moreover, it excludes the physical latency of the server and focuses only at the time it takes the server to receive a response after a request is made.

3. Landing Page Redirects Must Be Avoided.

4. Prioritising Visible Content is Essential.

5. Eliminating Render-Blocking JavaScript and CSS:

It is not necessary to have zero requests on top of the initial page load to provide above-the-fold content.

However, make sure not to treat the above aspects as the final word as far as site performance is concerned. There are other factors too that you must consider. Some of these are not covered by PageSpeed at all while others are only partially included. They include:

    –  Cache content that you control

    –  Decrease the amount of content that is being loaded from 3rd party domains.

    –  Decrease the server response time further on the lowest level that is required by Page-Speed Insights tests.

    –  Using CDN to move server closer to that of the user.

    –  Reducing blocking request might also help.

Ways to Improve:

Measurement:

Besides relying on the Page-Speed Insights tool, you need to go ahead and load your page in Chrome and check out how it performs. You need to try and figure out the requests that comparatively take more time. You might notice that loading ads takes a lot of time.

Setting Goals:

If your goal is not to achieve the perfect Page-Speed Insights, then you need to exactly figure out what you are looking for. This is essential since it will allow you to assess your performance to a particular goal. You need to determine if bandwidth requirements will be able to serve your goal or if you need to adopt measures to reduce latency.

Prioritizing:

It is definitely important to prioritise page speed fixes. However, there are other factors too that require emphasis. You need to figure out what actually has to be loaded. Page-Speed Insights figures out if you are stressing on above the fold content. This is definitely a great target. It is a good idea to divide content into “critical” and “non-critical” ones. Example: If a particular site relies on ad revenue, then it is a good idea to first load all the content and then the ads.

In other words, definitely Page-Speed Insight is helpful, but there are other quick tricks that might help you to analyse and improve the speed of your site.

 

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