Putting Page Speed in Real-World Context

Speed is increasingly important on the Web not just in terms of user experience but in currying favor with search engines too.

Often, however, the information that 'Net professionals gather about how well their pages adhere to the recognized set of best practices is done without any real world context - and that's a problem (or, at least it was).

Google just announced that its popular PageSpeed Insights tool will now use data from the Chrome User Experience Report to make better recommendations for developers. The tech giant also announced that the optimization score within the system has been "tuned" to be more aligned with real-world data.

Let's take a closer look at what Web pros will find in the updated PageSpeed Insights offering:

+ The Speed score reported in the PageSpeed Insights report now categorizes a page as being Fast, Average or Slow, determined by looking at the media value of "First Contentful Paint" and DOM Content Loaded. If both metrics are in the top one-third of their category, the page is considered fast.

+ The Optimization score now categorizes a page as being Good, Medium or Low by estimating its performance headroom. The calculation assumes that a developer wants to keep the same appearance and functionality of the page.

+ The new Page Load Distributions section presents how this page's FCP and DCL events are distributed in the data set. These events are categorized as Fast (top third), Average (middle third), and Slow (bottom third) by comparing to all events in the Chrome User Experience Report.

+ The Page Stats section describes the round trips required to load the page's render-blocking resources, the total bytes used by the page, and how it compares to the median number of round trips and bytes used in the dataset. This could prove quite useful as it can indicate if the page might be faster if modifications tothe appearance and functionality of the page were made by developers.

+ The new Optimization Suggestions section contains is a list of best practices that could be applied to the analyze page. If the page is fast, these suggestions will be hidden as the page is already in the top third of all pages in the category data set.