Measuring performance provides an important metric to help you assess the success of your app, site, or web service.
For example, you can use performance metrics to determine how your app performs in comparison to a competitor, or you can compare your app's performance across releases. The metrics you choose to measure should be relevant to your users, site, and business goals. They should be collected, measured consistently, and analyzed in a format that can be consumed and understood by non-technical stakeholders.
This article introduces tools you can use to access web performance metrics, which can be used to measure and optimize your site's performance.
There are several different tools available to help you measure and improve performance. These can generally be classified into two categories:
- Tools that indicate or measure performance, such as PageSpeed Insights or the Firefox Network Monitor and Performance Monitor. These tools show you how fast or slow your website is loading. They also indicate areas that can be improved to optimize your web app.
- Performance APIs that you can use to build custom performance tools.
Tools like PageSpeed Insights can provide quick performance measurements. You can enter a URL and get a performance report in seconds. The report contains scores to indicate how your website is performing, both for mobile and desktop. This is a good start for getting an idea about what you are already doing well and what could be improved.
At the time of writing, MDN's performance report summary looks similar to the following:
A performance report contains information about things like how long a user has to wait before anything is displayed on the page, how many bytes need to be downloaded to display a page, and much more. It also lets you know if the measured values are considered good or bad.
webpagetest.org is another example of a tool that automatically tests your site and returns useful metrics.
Try running your favorite website through these tools and see what the scores are.
Modern browsers have tools available that you can use to run against loaded pages and determine how they are performing; most of them work similarly. For example, the Firefox Network Monitor returns detailed information on all the assets downloaded from the network, along with a waterfall time graph that shows how long each one took to download.
You should also check out Chrome's Network Monitor documentation.
You can also use browser performance tools such as the Firefox Performance Monitor to measure the performance of a web app or site's user interface as you perform different actions. This indicates the features that might be slowing down your web app or site.
See also Chrome's Performance tool documentation.
When writing code for the Web, there are a large number of Web APIs available that allow you to create your own performance-measuring tools.
You can use the Navigation Timing API to measure client-side web performance; including the amount of time needed to unload the previous page, how long domain lookups take, the total time spent executing the window's load handler, and more. You can use the API for metrics related to all the navigation events displayed in the diagram below.
The PerformanceEntry object is part of the performance timeline. A performance entry can be directly created by making a performance
measure (for example by calling the
mark() method) at an explicit point in an application. Performance entries are also created in indirect ways, such as loading a resource like an image.
While this article does not dive into using these APIs, it is useful to know they exist. You can also refer to the Navigation and timings article for further examples of using performance Web APIs.