Why is my website slow? How do I diagnose my web site?

The need for speed: According to a recent survey by Akamai and JupiterResearch, four seconds is the maximum length of time an average person will wait for a web page to load before potentially abandoning the site. When comparing to online shopping sites, they report that poor site performance came in second with high product prices and shipping costs as the leading factors for dissatisfaction among online shoppers.

While their research was focussed on online shopping, it still suggests that fast websites are essential to get traffic and more important retaining them. So, how do you go about determining what is the bottleneck in your site, slowing down the page load times. Is there a particular image(size, resolution) causing the low startup times or is it a Javascript or is it a CSS? So, how do you go about determining the bottleneck?

Optimizing your site

Online shoppingUsers are becomming less and less accepting when it comes to slow sites as internet maturity increases. The size of the page is the main deciding factor for download times, coupled with bandwidth.

Although you can influence the bandwidth of your webservers, you cannot influence the bandwidth of your users. So make sure that your pages are no larger than they need to be. To reduce the size of your pages, you can;

Decrease the size of your images:

  • Use JPG instead of GIF or BMP. Sometimes PNG files are smaller than JPG files
  • Use harder compression on your jpg images
  • Make the images smaller in size
  • Reduce the number of images
  • Use HTTP compression on your web servers, which may compress code/text by up to 90%


If the first part of your page loads fast, and the parts that aren’t visible yet take longer, than that’s ok, because the users don’t care about information that they’re not ready to look at yet. Check out the tool below to help diagnose your load times …

Tool: OctaGate SiteTimer

Luckily for us, there is a free online service OctaGate SiteTimer that will tell you exactly how long it takes for a user to download one or more of your web site pages. It visits the page that you request and downloads all content that’s directly linked from that page which include images, frames, script files and also follows redirects.

Review of OctaGate SiteTImer on AskStudent data


If your site has Youtube videos, advertising code inside iframes or external javascripts, you would know right away if they are making the site slow.

SiteTime service will prepare a complete report about every object found on the webpage including details like how much time did it took to download a particular graphic, what was the size of that graphic and if it did exist at all.

SiteTimer is a must bookmark for all bloggers and website owners. Site loading diagnosis has never been so simple.

Additional Links:

1. OctaGate Sitetimer — your site diagnosis tool

2. BBC article on the four second cut off for online shopping sites

3. Akamai and JupiterResearch Survey