The time elapsed from the moment of the request of a certain URL until the requested page is fully displayed is defined as response time. This process consists of 3 units – transmission, processing and rendering.
- Transmission is the time necessary to transmit the user’s request and receive the server’s response.
- Processing describes the period during which the server has to process the request and generate the response.
- Rendering is a client-side operation and includes the time needed by the client machine to display the response.
There are several ways to measure the website’s response – client-side testing, server-side measurement and remote website monitoring from different locations. All of these methods have their advantages, but the choice is up to you.
Server-side measurement is reliable, but can sometimes be difficult when there are proxy servers, which are quite common today. Being a server-side application, there can be a lot of issues with the configuration and in some of the cases it will go down with your site and there may not be much else that you can do. Server-side measurement is a good approach for collecting visitor information, but does not have the full functionality of the remote monitoring.
Client-side testing is the best way through which you can get the most accurate perception of what your users are experiencing. However, it is limited to your network or geographical location and, more often than not, it does not reflect the universal experience that the average Internet user has with your site. There are several tools which can help you measure your website’s response time. Some are simple client-side scripts and others are more advanced (e.g. Yslow from Yahoo! and Page Speed from Google). The latter two tools are best used with Firefox and are mostly used as additions to Firebug.
Although client-side testing is a great way to gain first-hand information about the users’ experience, it can be time consuming and it only provides you with details for your site’s visibility from only one location. This may not be an issue if your business is local, but it is not sufficient for online retailers and service providers with clients all over the world.
Remote Website Monitoring
Remote monitoring is a recurring test that is performed by one or more remote locations at the same time. You can run various tests from different geographical locations, effectively simulate user’s experience from the different checking points and get accurate information about your website’s response time. It is accurate, easy to implement and its applications are backed up with a flexible reporting system and emergency 24/7 live support.