Fast or Slow: Your Site Speed From Around The World
Hello and welcome to Fast or Slow. My name is Mark Maunder and I’m the founder and CEO of a business called Wordfence.com. We sell the most popular WordPress security plugin in the world. I’m giving you this background to help explain what Fast or Slow is and why we created it.
Wordfence is a busy e-commerce website. We have customers around the world who access our site. Around 50% of our business comes from outside the USA. Conversion rates and user satisfaction are very important to us – not just because we like happy users – but because it affects our ability to generate revenue and be profitable.
Google published an internal study in 2009 that showed that a site speed drop of just 200 to 400 milliseconds has a profound effect on user engagement. And this effect gets worse over time. Google showed that “…users exposed to a 400 ms delay since the beginning of the experiment did 0.44% fewer searches during the first three weeks, but 0.76% fewer searches during the second three weeks.”.
User engagement affects our visitor’s willingness to interact with our website, which affects conversion rates. If we see a drop of 0.76% in conversion, that results in a revenue drop equal to a mid range yearly salary. In other words, if our site slows by just 400 milliseconds, it has the potential to cost us the ability to hire another team member.
The Google study showed that a site speed drop of just 400 milliseconds or 0.4 seconds can have this effect over time. So we decided to start taking performance very seriously at Wordfence.
But performance has even greater ramifications. In 2010, Google announced that site speed would become a “ranking signal”. This means that slower sites appear further down in the search results, and faster sites appear higher up.
In 2018, Google announced their “speed update”, and that page speed would become a ranking factor in mobile searches, too.
In 2018 the Google Ads team also announced a new metric for measuring page speed. According to Google: “The 1-10 mobile speed score is based on real-world user experience data, taking into account many factors including the relationship between page speed and potential conversion rates.”
But How Can We Measure Real-World Speed Around the Globe?
In trying to make our site faster for our visitors, we encountered a problem: all performance benchmarking tools available right now measure from a single location, and that location is usually in the USA. Half of our sales are outside the USA.
We needed to urgently solve this problem. We needed a clear picture of how our site performed for our global market, from their city. And, as Google says, we needed a measure of “real-world user experience” rather than just how fast it takes our web server to respond to a ping.
So we got together last year and had a brainstorm. We came up with a project code named “Sundial” – which would become Fast or Slow. The idea was to develop a way to measure real-world performance from around the world, and an easy way to read and interpret the results.
To create Fast or Slow, we set up servers in 13 cities around the world. We carefully calibrated each server to have the same performance. Then we set up headless browsers on each server so that we could actually get a true indication of the speed of a site inside a real web browser.
We have servers in the following locations:
- USA Southeast
- USA Southwest
- USA Northeast
- USA Northwest
- USA Central
- South Africa
Fast or Slow provides you with an overall score of your site performance, across several dimensions, that looks like this:
Each image below is clickable for a larger version.
But we’re just scratching the surface. Fast or Slow includes a overall summary with numbers for each element of your page speed:
As you can see above we also break down your performance by geographic location, with an easy indication of where your site is slower and where it is fast.
We provide you with a detailed loading progression graph which I haven’t included here because it can be quite large. And a helpful map showing you our profiling locations, the location of your content and a visual indication to show you what is slow.
And then we go deeper. You can see the data for each of the individual locations that profiled your site. There are a total of thirteen locations. This view provides a ton of useful data on the performance of your site from a specific location. Firstly we provide a summary for each location which gives you the option to view more detail.
Clicking each location gives you everything the overview has, but for that individual location.
Fast or Slow is a website profiling tool that gives you an incredibly accurate and real-world view of your site performance from major locations around the world. This is the only free website profiling service that gives you a true indication of how the whole world experiences your website. And that is extremely valuable because your site might be fast for Europeans or American’s, but if it is slow for half your market, that has a significant financial impact.
You can profile your site performance right now at FastOrSlow.com and it’s totally free!
You can also follow us on Twitter via @isitfastorslow.
Mark Maunder – Defiant Inc – Founder & CEO.