The simple answer- yes.
Your website is the central hub of your business. When a visitor lands on your site, it takes about 50 milliseconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website (and thus, your business), and determine if they will stay or bounce. Even if your site is full of great content, is aesthetically pleasing, and has strong search ranking and visibility, website performance is equally important. When a page load time goes from one to three seconds, the chance of a bounce increases by 32%, and by 90% when the load time reaches 5 seconds.
Understanding the performance of your site – and being able to report on that performance, either for yourself or for your manager or team – is an extremely important aspect of a solid marketing strategy.
In order to know if your site is performing well, we need to see what other questions performance-testing tools can answer.
What Can Website Performance-Testing Tools Tell Me?
1. How many people are visiting my site?
Not only can you track how many visitors have been to your site, but you can also use real-time reporting to see who is on your site right now.
Besides curiosity about how many people are going to your site, this tool helps you see any changes in traffic after sharing content or offering a promotion.
2. How many visitors are new or returning users?
Instead of tracking individuals, each user is given a unique ID. When this ID is used, you know they are a returning user; if they have a new ID, it’s a new user.
Unfortunately, clearing cookies will result in a new ID, so returning visitors may be reported as new.
This metric can help you compare the success of campaigns aimed at drawing in more new customers.
3. How are people finding my site?
Keep track of which channels are driving the most traffic.
Whether it’s through organic search or social media posts, tracking the origin of a visitor will help you better target your audience and adjust your marketing plan to accommodate your consumers.
4. What pages are visited most on my site?
By knowing what content is getting the most views, you can produce more relevant and engaging content.
This also helps you understand the navigation of your website; if a page isn’t getting any views, maybe visitors are having a hard time finding it.
5. How long does my website take to load?
As mentioned earlier, you want your page to take no more than 3 seconds to load.
Not only are slow websites frustrating and inconvenient, but site speed also affects your search engine ranking.
Types of Website Performance Testing Metrics and Tools
1. Site Speed
When you only have a few seconds to hold your visitor’s attention, you want your site to load as quickly as possible.
Some common causes for a slow site include server errors, too many plug-ins, or large photos.
Free Sources: Google PageSpeed Insights, UsabilityHub (free plan)
Paid Sources: Pingdom, dareboost
2. A/B Testing
Test and compare changes made to any aspect of your website.
Recording data on changes in visitor behavior can help you polish your website layout and navigation, as well as test new content, features, and offers.
Free Sources: Google Optimize, Visual Website Optimizer
Paid Sources: Crazy Egg, Optimizely
3. SEO Monitoring
If you want your site to be seen, you have to utilize SEO.
Collect information on rank, visibility, accessibility and more with tools that review and test your site like a search engine.
Free Sources: HubSpot Website Grader, UpCity SEO Report Card
Paid Sources: SemRush
4. Bounce Rate
If visitors are bouncing, that means they are not looking through your site.
Track bounce rate to compare what content and layout best engage your visitors; also, slow sites usually have higher bounce rates.
Free Sources: UsabilityHub, Google Analytics
Paid Sources: Heap
5. Click Tracking
Know where visitors are clicking most with recordings of user activity on your site.
This tool will help pinpoint issues with site navigation, which content is getting the most attention, and the effectiveness of your page layout.
Free Sources: UsabilityHub
Paid Sources: Crazy Egg, HotJar
See users scroll, click and move around your site and visualize the most popular parts of your website using Heatmaps.
Find out if there are parts of your site that go unnoticed, and use the user information available to create more intuitive navigation.
Free Sources: MouseStats (limit 100/mo)
Paid Sources: Crazy Egg, HotJar
7. Conversion Funnels
Compare the drop-off rates of each page to know when your visitors tend to abandon a purchase.
Figure out the pages that a user visits on their buyer’s journey and improve the flow to avoid any wrinkles that could cause a drop-off.
Free Sources: Google Analytics
Paid Sources: HotJar, mixpanel
8. Surveys and Polls
Surveys can be featured on any page or appear after a certain action; similarly, poll widgets appear on a page of your choosing, after an action, or when a visitor is about to leave the page.
User feedback is a great way to gauge the performance of your website from a user’s perspective; if you want your website to be more enjoyable for visitors, you might want to ask what your visitors want.
Free Sources: Pollcode, QuestionPro (limit 100 responses)
Paid Sources: HotJar, QuestionForm
With such a wide variety of tools and metrics, pinpointing any issues with your website is simple. No matter your goals, there is a tool out there that can help you reach it. All these tools collect and organize data so you can see exactly what steps your business needs to take to improve website performance.
Thanks for stopping by,
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in December 2018 and has been edited and updated in March 2022.