Better Charts, 2020 Industry Data, HTTPS as Default and Much More!!
At Defiant, we know that our products require constant care, feeding and improvement. We launched Fast or Slow about 10 days ago and have been hard at work making the web’s best site speed test even better.
A Better Summary Bar Chart
The past 10 days have seen several releases with many awesome new features. My personal favorite – and something I asked for – is an update to the bar chart that you get at the top of your site performance report. It now looks like this:
The older bar chart just showed how long it took your page to become interactive for each location. A mouseover provided some additional data. Now we’ve broken out loading phases into tabs at the top of the bar chart that you can click to switch between charts.
You’ll also notice a thinner bar on the far right that has red, yellow and green segments. This shows you which locations fall into the fast, mid-range or slow categories. These colors are calibrated using industry standards for loading speeds. So if one of your location has slow DNS, slow first byte, or is slow to become interactive, you can look at the specific bar chart for that loading phase and see which location is slow, and whether we consider it slow by industry standards. Pretty cool, huh?
I asked for this because I’m using Fast or Slow as a research tool internally, and I found it hard to compare location speed for specific loading phases. I wanted a single view to see First Byte or DNS, etc. And this gives me that, and I absolutely love it. I’m already using it to do a few fun speed comparisons between sites.
Better Scoring Calibration
The performance scores that you get from Fast or Slow use the same algorithm that Google’s Lighthouse uses internally. In fact we’re using Google’s Lighthouse to do the actual benchmarking by launching a headless Chrome instance at all 13 locations around the world when we benchmark your site.
However, Lighthouse produces scores that use 2018 industry data from HTTPArchive. We prefer to use current site performance data to produce comparative speed scoring. So we queried the 2020 data that HTTPArchive provides, and we used that to produce the scores that Fast or Slow gives you from each location for your site.
Site performance has changed since 2018. By using the newest data and an industry standard benchmarking tool that Google uses internally, you can rest assured that you have a performance score that gives you an excellent indication of how Google’s ranking algorithm will perceive your site performance. You also have a clear picture of how your site stacks up against all other websites in 2020.
HTTPS Is The Default
Woohoo! I know many of our fans are saying that because you asked for this. HTTPS is the new default for Fast or Slow. When we first launched Fast or Slow, we set the default on the home page to HTTP because, if a site is not running HTTPS, then it will always be running HTTP if it’s up, and you won’t get an error.
However many of our users didn’t like that default behavior because if you just type in your site and hit Go, instead of selecting HTTPS, we would take the redirect into account when showing your site performance. And that slows things down. And in reality, most users will go directly to a HTTPS website rather than go via a redirect.
So we have changed the default benchmark to HTTPS and if you aren’t running HTTPS (which is insane by the way), then we give you a helpful error, with a suggestion that you join us in this century and configure your site with HTTPS.
You still have the option to benchmark using HTTP if you are going for that retro vibe.
So Much More Goodness
We included many other awesome changes. Here are a few of them:
We changed the way we calculate First Byte to be more accurate.
We changed the summary scores to use the average timings from each location, rather than the average score from each location. The old method produced results that were just slightly off, and this change fixes that.
We added a link from the menu on the left of the results page to our help documentation. We had plenty of contextual help but this was a small oversight. Now you can jump straight into the home page of our documentation from the profile results page.
We added automatic network health monitoring to all our profiling locations. If parameters at a location exceed our thresholds, we mark that location offline for a period until it recovers. That way you won’t get bad results mixed in because we’re having internal issues. This happens automatically which is kinda nice for Scott, our head of operations, because he likes his sleep.
We made a really nice change where, if your site is actually at www.example.com and you entered example.com, we ask you if you want to profile the www site directly. This helps you skip what we call “avoidable forwarding” and gives you the performance as if your user or Google hit www.example.com directly. This works the other direction too, if you enter www.example.com and your site is actually example.com.
We updated the version of Chrome we use to benchmark your site from each location. This has given us a slight performance boost which gives you even more accurate performance results.
We also improved the speed at which your speed tests will return. I’m going to hand wave this improvement by saying that I’m rather proud to work with a brilliant engineering team, and sometimes they do engineering magic and make things faster.
We also addressed a few avoidable profiling failures to make the entire system more reliable, even under adverse conditions.
By Engineers For Engineers
Fast or Slow is the leader in website performance measurement by a significant margin at this point. You can’t find another free product out there that profiles your site performance concurrently from 13 locations, and gives you a beautiful summary report that lets you drill down into each location. Plus, we’re using the most current data when providing summary scores and scores from each individual location.
I’m incredibly excited about Fast or Slow, and we’ll continue to work to make it even better. Internally, our dev team, operations team and QA team work very closely together in creating this product. It’s something we wanted, and it is created by engineers for engineers. You’ll notice that we haven’t tried to over-simplify UX elements or dumb anything down. We’ve kept things technical and detailed so that the developers, QA teams and ops teams out there can easily get to the meaningful data they need to take action and speed things up.
As always, keep the feedback coming. You can post a comment here or find us on Twitter @isitfastorslow.
Mark Maunder – Defiant Founder & CEO.