Synthetic performance tests are great tools, but they are just that: another tool for the toolbelt. You can gain some fantastic information from them, but like all tools, not all performance tests are created equally. Some are better than others for certain things, and their results can easily be misinterpreted.

For instance - let’s test one of our AgentFire sites on 3 different credible performance tools.

WebPageTest.org

Pingdom

Google PageSpeed

As you can see, each tool is scoring the site differently. At first glance you can see how the perceived performance of that site can be greatly skewed depending on which tool you are testing it on.

Even when you take a highly credible website like redfin.com and run it through these same performance testing tools, you can see that even it scores low. Does that mean Redfin, with it’s millions of dollars, has a poorly built website? No.

The main downfall of these performance testing tools are that they are purely mechanical, and the technology just isn't available to automatically measure how a human being uses a site. 

Not to mention there are certain items that we have added by design that may be causing a lower score due to the biases of these tools and their automation.  

For instance, in the past we have seen that we had received lower scores on Pingdom for 'remove query strings from static files' and 'serve files from cookieless domain'. But in reality, the reason we're not doing what Pingdom suggests is for security reasons. We were able to do a better job of protecting our sites from DDoS attacks and hacks if we continued to do things the way we were doing them. 

So in this case the result was a lower score, but a more reliable and safer hosting environment with no actual decrease in site load speed… that is a pretty good trade off ;)

Now with all this being said, we will of course always monitor site performance. At AgentFire, we are constantly making optimizations to our websites, tools and networks to ensure our clients are delivering the best experience possible to their visitors.

From the customer standpoint, the biggest thing you can do to help your website’s performance is to monitor the size of your pages. Ensure you are properly optimizing images and try to avoid using large file sizes for any other content you might be adding on your pages.

Of course if you need any assistance, or have further questions - feel free to reach out to use at [email protected].

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