The first step in improving your website’s speed is to assess how your site’s current performance scores. There are multiple online speed tests that you can run and some are better than others. But what is a reasonable site speed score?
If you run your website through the same performance tool multiple times, you may notice that you get slightly different scores every time.
This is normal and due to a variety of reasons, including:
- The current traffic visiting your website when the test is run
- Your laptop/computer’s local network current load when you run the test
- Server pooling mechanisms reloading for the http server or database server
- Caching mechanisms requiring a refresh
- Maintenance activities occurring behind the scenes for your site, such as backups occurring
Due to this variance, it is a good idea to run the test a few times with at least a few minutes between each test and then take the average.
You may also notice that the score changes over a longer period of time due to the actual test being upgraded / improved. Lighthouse is an open source project that is being continually improved by programmers around the world.
If you update Google Chrome, the actual testing methodology may change. You might notice your score is then different, even if no changes have been made to your site.
Therefore, it is best to go with the latest version score and work on improving the speed based on the latest test data. It does not necessarily mean that your site is any faster or slower than it was previously.
What’s a Reasonable Site Speed Score?
After running a speed test, the selected tool will typically display a score out of 100 for the site. This score is based on the tool’s own scoring algorithm, which is unknown and may change overtime.
In general, performance scores are estimates of how well a site implements best practices. However, these scores should be viewed as indicators and helpers towards a higher goal of optimizing actual browser load times.
Regardless of the performance and speed test, don’t focus too much on the test’s score out of 100 or letter grade. Look at this metric: the number of seconds for the web page to load.
A good rule of thumb for page load time is 3 seconds or under. If your site is loading under 3 seconds, then the site is optimized pretty well and you may not have any work to do.
For Google Chrome Lighthouse tool, the following scores are the best ranges to aim for on desktop and mobile. These are above average scores for websites:
- For Desktop: a score between 70 and 80 out of 100
- For Mobile: a score between 50 and 60 out of 100
Also, keep in mind that a performance tool will often grade the website mobile speed based on a slow 3G connection whereas the majority of visitors are on 4G or faster connections.
How to Utilize Speed Scores Properly
Instead of obsessing over a perfect score, focus on the user experience and how your web visitors will experience the performance of your site. When reviewing the speed scores:
- Thoroughly read and research the suggestions that the tools offer. Some recommendations may involve fixes that you have no control over or are not worth your time.
- Always test the implementation before and after to see if it really works for your situation.
- Use these scores in conjunction with other tools to get a complete overall picture of the performance of your site.
The bottom line is that you don’t necessarily need a 100 score to have a successful website. After adjusting your expectations, if you are still seeing low performance scores, reach out to our team to discuss speeding up your slow WordPress site.