How Fast Should Your Website Be?

By Daniel Hales | Published 18/01/2021

Having a fast website is as important as ever, people expect things to load almost instantly and search engines will give a slight boost to faster websites. There’s even been studies to suggest that having a slow website can massively decrease your conversion rate.

So there’s really no reason not to have a fast website. But what is a fast website and how do you know if you have one? The best way to do this is to use tools in order to benchmark your website against. There’s 2 tools we’d recommend looking at when assessing your website’s speed: GTmetrix and Google’s Page Insights.

Using GTmetrix

GTmetrix is a free tool which will analyse your website and give you information on how fast it performs as well as giving you tips to improve this. There are multiple metrics that GTmetrix will give you, these are the main ones we’d suggest looking at:

  • GTmetrix Grade – This gives a grading to your website based on the sites performance and structure. The higher grade, the faster the website and the less optimisations you can make. You should always be aiming to have an A grade, although 100% scores across both performance and structure may be hard to achieve.
  • Large Contentful Paint – This is how long it takes for the website to first appear loaded to the end user. There may still be other parts loading in the background. GTmetrix suggests trying to keep this under 1.2 seconds, but we’d aim for slightly better and try to get it under 1 second. At this speed, loading is almost unnoticeable.
  • Time to Interactive – This is the time for your website to be usable. GTmetrix suggests under 2.5 seconds for this but we’d say a truly fast website is under 1.5 seconds.
  • Fully Loaded Time – This is the time for the web page to be fully loaded, but is less used and the above two metrics are more important to focus on. We’d still try to have this under 3 seconds and anything longer could mean issues with the website. If it’s longer than 3 seconds we’d suggest looking at the waterfall tab to see what’s taking the time load.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift – This is how much the website’s layout shifts as the page loads and can be frustrating to the end user if it moves around too much. This should be as close to 0 as possible with GTmetrix suggesting you aim for under 0.1.

You should now have an idea of what looks good for these different metrics and have an idea of whether your website is fast or not. If you’re unsure it might be worth testing a few competitor websites to see how you compare to them. From that you can then try and have the fastest website in your niche.

It’s also worth noting that if you sign up for an account you can change the test server location, which is defaulted to the USA. This can give you a better indication of what your target market is seeing if they’re based elsewhere.

Using Google’s Page Insights

Page Insights is a tool by Google and gives you similar insights to GTmetrix. The main difference is that Page Insights gives you a score for both Mobile and Desktop. Desktop is much easier to score higher as mobile takes the mobile networks into consideration which are typically slower.

When looking at Page Insights we mainly focus on the top overall scores, which we aim to be above 90. This can be hard especially for mobile and you may need to consider functionality when deciding whether to optimise for this or not.

You should now have an idea of whether your website is fast or not. If you need help improving the speed of your website our team is here to help and you can get in touch via our contact page.

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